[WARNING: this list contains disturbing images.] In July 1991, police officers walked into Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment in Milwaukee where they uncovered one of the most gruesome and chilling crime scenes of all time. A severed human head was in the fridge and two more heads and a torso was found in a freezer.
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Dahmer had been an active serial killer and cannibal for 13 years. His reign of terror had come to an end but these crimes were never forgotten. There is still so much about his twisted story that creeps people out today.
Born on May 21st, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was the first son of Lionel and Joyce Dahmer. Six years later, his younger brother was born and the family was complete. Their home life appeared perfect, however, behind closed doors his mother suffered from extreme anxiety and attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. Dahmer’s first school teacher wrote in her report that she believed he was neglected at home.
Dahmer’s father recalled how his son’s fantasies connected with dead and sex began with roadkill during his childhood. He revealed said, “(Jeffrey) cut them open to examine the insides of the animals. He did what most all of us young males do when the hormones kick in tremendously, and he was doing something sexually with them. And I think the neuronal connections, you know, made contact and sort of hard-wired Jeff.” If these early warning signs were not dismissed as childhood hormones, the future cannibal killer’s urges might not have escalated.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Dahmer’s crimes that during childhood he had a collection of animal corpses he kept in his clubhouse. A young Dahmer was 4-years-old when he began collecting animal bones because he was fascinated how they would “fit together.” He also killed many of the animals himself.
His scientist father, who was struggling to bond with his distant son, decided to appease this childhood curiosity by showing him how to properly clean and preserve the animal parts. This technique Dahmer learned from his father, he would later also use to preserve the body parts of his victims which he kept in his own apartment.
Malcom Plant, author of ‘Making The Link’, explained, “It’s highly likely that an animal abuser will also be abusing humans. We found not only have most animal abusers been exposed to violence and abuse, but that this has resulted in reduced empathy and a normalisation of aggression.”
Dahmer attended Revere High School in Richfield, Ohio, where he was known as an outcast, loner and a prankster. He would sneak into photos of clubs and societies he was not a member of, fake seizures in the classroom corridors, and generally frighten many of his peers. His alcoholism also began around this time in his life too and there was always beer or scotch whiskey that he kept in his locker.
Sociologist Dr. Martha Schmidt was a former classmate of Dahmer’s and she revealed, “(His) behaviour began to be so strange that I felt very uncomfortable being with him alone. He liked to act, in his words ‘crazy’, he would just start shrieking or he would twist himself up in a grotesque way or run with a limp.” And I remember one time asking him why he behaved this way and he said, ‘I just like to shake people up.’”
In 1978, Dahmer’s parents were granted a divorce following each accusing the other of extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty. A former neighbour, Susan Lehr, said of Dahmer’s childhood, “The police were out several times. At the time I knew him, there was something devastating going on in his life and there wasn’t anybody there to help him. I feel bad about that.”
Following the divorce, his mother moved out of town with his younger brother and his father also left the family home. Dahmer was left alone. He began drinking heavily and at the age of 18-years-old he committed his first murder.
On June 18th, 1978, he brought a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks back to the house where he choked and bludgeoned him to death with a sledgehammer. Dahmer said, “The guy wanted to leave and I didn’t want him to leave.” He then scattered the bones in his yard and more than a decade later, police were able to recover more than 500 pieces of bone.
Six weeks after the murder of Steven Hicks, Dahmer enrolled at Ohio State University with hopes of majoring in business. However, his alcoholism meant that he only achieved low grades and he dropped out after just three months. In 1979, his father then encouraged him to join the U.S. Army where he trained as a medical specialist.
During his time in the army, two soldiers came forward with claims they had been drugged and raped by Dahmer. In 1981, he was deemed unfit for military service and received an honourable discharge.
Preston Davis, who was in the military service at the same time as Dahmer, recalled, “Jeffrey had killed his first victim a year before joining the military, and he would get drunk in the barracks and say, ‘I killed the guy in Ohio,’ and we’d say, ‘You didn’t kill nobody!’ He became a monster once he started drinking. Alcohol is what turned him into a monster.”
Dahmer’s total victim count was 17. He would select men who were vulnerable runaways, hitchhikers or drug dealers—their disappearances were then less likely to be reported straight away. He would strangle his victims, keeping the body parts as souvenirs and photos of the dismembered corpses.
The first murders took place in the basement of his grandmother’s house. She was unaware of his crimes but eventually grew tired of the late-night drunkenness and kicked him out. He then moved to an apartment on North 25th Street, Milwaukee, where he would continue to lure his victims with the promise of money or sex. In just two years, his victim count jumped from 4 to 17.
He later said, “It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight, when you depersonalize another person and view them as just an object. An object for pleasure and not a living breathing human being. It seems to make it easier to do things you shouldn’t do.”
Despite Dahmer’s neighbours sleeping just a few feet away from where the serial killer was murdering, dismembering and cannibalising the remains of his victims; he still managed to evade capture for so long. One of his neighbours later told reporters, “He was shy, a little withdrawn. But not real bizarre.”
Then they started to notice the smell. Dahmer had wrapped body parts including hearts, biceps, and portions of flesh from the legs in plastic bags placed in the fridge for later consumption.
Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist and consultant to the FBI Academy’s behavioral science unit, said, “Many serial killers keep souvenirs of their victims as ‘trophies’. The trophies are usually identification cards or pieces of clothing. But few, are driven by their loneliness to keep pieces of their victims’ bodies.” Adding, “An ordinary serial killer would have the sense to try to mask the smell. It’s awfully careless not to.”
After murdering a victim, Dahmer would take photos of the body in various stages of dismemberment. He would also pose the body in deeply disturbing positions, explaining, “It was my way of remembering their appearance, their physical beauty. If I couldn’t keep them there with me whole, I at least could keep their skeletons.”
On May 26th, 1991, Dahmer’s neighbour called the police to report a young boy running naked in the street. When they arrived, Dahmer managed to convince the officers that the 19-year-old boy was his lover who had too much to drink. Not wanting to get involved in a homosexual domestic dispute, the officers left the young teenager with Dahmer—the victim was handed back over to the serial killer.
Then on July 22nd, 1991, a man named Tracy Edwards appeared drunk in the street and had a handcuff dangling from his wrist. When he told officers a “weird dude” had handcuffed him they decided to check out Dahmer’s apartment. One of the officers noticed the sickening polaroid collection and began to investigate further – he uncovered the ‘Fridge of Horrors’ with jars containing genitalia and other body parts.
The chief medical examiner stated, “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene.”
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Frederick Fosdal was hired by prosecutors to examine Dahmer. He found that the serial killer had carried out lobotomies on some of his victim’s corpses—drilling holes in their head and pouring fluid in the skulls. Whilst they were still alive he injected them with Muriatic acid to see if he was able to keep them under his control. Fosdal said, “He had hoped to control and keep them around longer by making them zombie-like.”
He confessed to having sex with some of the corpses and also to preserving one man’s heart to eat. Fosdal added, “They were not brutal, sadistic acts. He said he killed them in the most painless way he knew. It all boils down to the question of control.” The psychiatrist also found nothing in his examination to support Dahmer’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. It was clear that Dahmer knew his crimes were evil and chose to carry out the gruesome murders anyway.
In February 1992, a jury found Dahmer guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms.
On the morning of November 28th, 1994, Dahmer was assigned to work detail with two other prisoners at Colombia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. They were left unsupervised. One of those prisoners was Christopher Scarver, who stood 6ft 3”, he began questioning Dahmer about his crimes against African-Americans—the majority of Dahmer’s victims were African-American.
The dispute then resulted in Scarver bludgeoning Dahmer to death with a steel bar from a piece of gym equipment. He also attacked the second man—Jesse Anderson. Dahmer died from his wounds on the way to the hospital and Anderson died two days later.
Scarver later revealed he spent 16 years in solitary confinement for the murders. When he was asked why he killed Dahmer, he said that the serial killer would taunt the other inmates; playing with his food and shaping it into severed limbs before pouring ketchup over it to appear like blood. He also claimed he was left with Dahmer unsupervised because the prison staff wanted him dead. Dahmer was 34-years-old at the time of his death.
Above is a fascinating rare interview with Jeffrey Dahmer and his father. I strongly recommend viewing it.
About The Author: Cheish Merryweather is a true crime fan and an oddities fanatic. Can either be found at house parties telling everyone Charles Manson was only 5ft 2″ or at home reading true crime magazines. Founder of Crime Viral community since 2015.