|“||After the fear and terror of what I'd done had left, which took about a month or two, I started it all over again. From then on it was a craving, a hunger, I don't know how to describe it, a compulsion, and I just kept doing it, doing it and doing it, whenever the opportunity presented itself.||”|
Dahmer was born in West Allis, Wisconsin, on May 21, 1960. His parents were Lionel Herbert Dahmer, a chemical analyst, and Joyce Dahmer. Seven years later, his brother, David, was born. By all accounts, Jeffrey had a normal childhood, though his parents' marriage is said to have been tense and he was often left to himself since they were often busy with work. He became very mellowed after he was operated on for a double hernia when he was six years old. It has also been claimed that he was molested by a neighbor. As he got older, he grew increasingly introverted and began spending time at a secret animal cemetery he had built himself and filled with roadkill, the centerpiece of which was a dog's head he had placed on a stake. He began drinking in his teens and was a full-blown alcoholic by high school. In 1977, his parents divorced and he very briefly attended Ohio State University before dropping out due to his drinking. On June 6, 1978, Jeffrey, living with his father, committed his first murder, killing a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks because Steven wanted to leave and Jeff did not want him to. When he tried to leave the house (the rest of the family were not home), Jeffrey bludgeoned and strangled him to death with a barbell and buried the body near his pet cemetery. Sometime after that, Jeffrey's father compelled him to join the Army, where he rated average. He was trained as a medic and deployed to West Germany, but was honorably discharged in 1981 due to his alcoholism. When this happened, he was provided by the Army an airplane ticket to anywhere in the country, which he used to go to Miami Beach, Florida. He spent most of his time there at a hospital but was eventually kicked out because of his drinking. He continued doing so when he came home, eventually being arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct later in 1981.In 1982, Dahmer moved in with his grandmother in West Allis. While he lived there, she found, on different occasions, a fully dressed male mannequin stolen from a store and a .357 Magnum gun in his room. She also felt terrible smells from the basement, to which Dahmer had brought a dead squirrel and tried to dissolve it in chemicals. He was also arrested for indecent exposure in 1982 and 1986. The second time he masturbated in front of two boys. In the summer of 1988, Dahmer's grandmother asked him to move out because of his strange behavior and the smell coming from the basement, prompting him to move into an apartment in Milwaukee, closer to his job at the Ambrose Chocolate Factory. The same year he was arrested for drugging and sexually fondling a 13-year old boy. He was sentenced to five years' probation and one year in a work release camp, moving out of his apartment. He was paroled two months early and moved into another Milwaukee apartment, Apartment 213 of the Oxford Apartments complex. On May 27, an intended victim, Konerak Sinthasomphone (by coincidence the younger brother of the boy he drugged and molested years earlier), escaped after having been drugged and raped by him. Dahmer later claimed that he had also drilled into his head. When the police arrived, he claimed Konerak to be his 19-year old lover and that he had left after they had drunk and argued. Since he was so charming and articulate, the police believed him and didn't look into the boy's real age or the fact that Dahmer was a registered sex offender on probation. He was arrested for the last time on July 22, 1991 when an intended victim, Tracy Edwards, managed to escape and call for police. When he led two officers to the apartment, they arrested Dahmer and uncovered several grisly items in the apartment, such as:
- Photographs of mangled bodies
- Four skulls in the refrigerator
- Several dismembered organs and bodies
- Blue barrel vats containing whole bodies
- Neatly wrapped strips of human flesh in the refrigerator
- A barrel containing three human torsos
Dahmer would visit gay bars, gay libraries, and the local mall, or walk the streets, looking for victims and invite them to his apartment to have sex or drink while watching pornography, or lure them by offering them money to pose for some photos. While looking for potential victims, and as part of his fantasy of feeling powerful, he would wear yellow contact lenses so his eye color would match that of Emperor Palpatine from Return of the Jedi and James Venamun from The Exorcist III. All of the victims were aged in their mid-teens to mid-thirties, a majority of them being bi- or homosexual, of African or Asian descent and lived "high-risk" lifestyles. A lot of them also had criminal records, often for serious crimes such as arson, rape, battery, and sexual assault.
After picking them up, usually on Friday nights so he could spend the weekend with them, he would bring them home, and drug them by crushing prescription drugs and blending it with their drinks. Afterwards, he would usually rape them, murder them by strangling them with his bare hands or with a leather strap, and dismember the remains in his bathtub while documenting the processes with a Polaroid camera simultaneously. He would then remove the organs from his victim's chest (dicing the ones he did not wish to keep into pieces), suspend the torsos to allow the blood to drain in the bathtub (due to so much of it pooling in his victims' chests after he killed them), and remove the flesh from the body with a knife.
Prior to dismembering the victims he killed when he lived in the Oxford apartment complex, he would pose his victims' bodies in suggestive positions, usually with the chests trusted outwards. In the case of Ernest Miller, he slashed his throat with the same knife he used to dismember, dissect, decapitate, and flay his victims since he didn't have enough pills to drug and incapacitate him. During his later murders, he experimented with handcuffing them and revealing his intentions before the drugs completely kicked in in order to torture them. When he killed his first victim, Steven Hicks, he bludgeoned him with a barbell and then fatally strangled him with it. He then dismembered his body with a carving knife, removed the flesh off his bones, and smashed them with a sledgehammer, spreading the pieces all over his backyard afterwards. His second victim Steven Tumoi was beaten to death while the former was in a drunken state.
He would also engage in sexual acts with the bodies, pose and take pictures of them, and eventually dispose of their flesh by dissolving them in chemicals to the point that they were completely liquefied and could be poured down a toilet or a sink. He would also keep several body parts in his apartment, usually the heads and genitals, even preserving whole bodies in large, chemical-filled vats. He eventually attempted to turn some of them into "zombies" by drilling holes in their skulls and injecting hydrochloric acid or boiling hot water into their temporal lobes using large syringes, which would prove to be fatal for Konerak Sinthasomphone and Jeremiah Weinberger. The heads, with which he had a particular fascination, were often boiled until the flesh came off, preserved with Soilex (a laundry detergent) mixed with water and bleach solutions, and painted to make them look like they were made of plastic. He would also consume many of his victims, eating parts of them such as their hearts, livers, and biceps. During the entire process of his M.O., he would drink alcohol.
Dahmer's murders were motivated by powerful abandonment issues rooted in his fear of rejection and loss and a need for control. The murder of his first victim, Steven Hicks, is very exemplary of this: he was killed because he wanted to leave, causing Dahmer to snap and kill him in order to keep him from abandoning him. He took a kind of sadistic delight in luring them. The cannibalism he practiced, consuming his victims to make them a part of himself, was an extension of his need for power.
On Criminal Minds
- Season One:
- Season Two:
- "The Boogeyman" - Dahmer was mentioned by Reid as an example of serial killers who carry out fantasies of revenge upon their victims; Reid also explains how childhood harassment led him to kill.
- "Fear and Loathing" - Dahmer was mentioned as an example of how charming serial killers can be, with a flashback accompanying the reference.
- Season Three:
- "In Name and Blood" - Milwaukee detective Vic Wolynski was said to have worked on the Dahmer case. At one point, he voices his disgust at people's morbid fascination with the subject, and claims to have personally seen the horrors in Dahmer's apartment.
- Season Six:
- Season Seven:
- "There's No Place Like Home" - Reid describes that Dahmer was under a delusion in which he was using his victims' corpses to create young male "sex zombies" that wouldn't resist his advances. He also mentions how he would keep his victims' skulls, hearts, and genitalia as souvenirs after killing them, in comparison to how the unsub, Travis James, kept the limbs of his victims. It also seems that Travis took some direct inspiration from Dahmer; both were serial killers who had similar victimologies (Caucasian teenage boys with high-risk lifestyles), would lure their victims to their homes with beer and sex, incapacitated their victims by lacing the drinks they gave them tranquilizers, and dismembered their victims post-mortem and kept some of their body parts. Travis being molested by someone living in the same trailer park as him is an allusion to the claim that Dahmer was molested by a neighbor.
- "Closing Time" - Reid mentioned how Dahmer would put the genitals of his victims on display, wondering if the current unsub was doing the same thing.
- "Profiling 101" - Dahmer's mugshot was among those that appeared in a montage of mugshots of real-life criminals shown by the BAU to a Criminology class.
- Season Eight:
- "Pay It Forward" - Dahmer was mentioned as an example of serial killers who go dormant for long periods of time or completely quit, in reference to his nine-year dormancy period after killing Steven Hicks.
- Season Nine:
- Season Ten:
- "X" - Dahmer was mentioned as an example of deranged killers.
- Season Eleven:
- Season Twelve:
- "Taboo" - Dahmer was compared to Stuart Barker, the episode's unsub, by the BAU and served as a partial inspiration for him. Both performed lobotomies on their victims to affect their frontal lobes and alter their sexuality (though Dahmer wanted to turn it on while Stuart wanted to turn it off), and when those lobotomies were unsuccessful, they disposed of the bodies in containers.
- "A Good Husband" - Dahmer was mentioned in the episode by Lewis, who describes the episode's unsub, Mark Tolson, as a mixture of him and Gacy. This appeared to be an accurate description. Like Dahmer, Mark was a psychopathic homosexual whose parents divorced when he was young; he also suffered from abandonment and control issues, had similar victimologies (homosexual Caucasian males), laced the victims' drinks with sedatives to incapacitate them, and dismembered them (Dahmer did it post-mortem, while Tolson did it ante-mortem).
- Killer Profile - Former profiler Max Ryan is revealed to have written about Dahmer in a book titled Serial Killers and Mass Murderers: Profiling Why They Kill. Copycat serial killer Daniel Dryden (who used the book as a point of reference) also copied one of Dahmer's murders, picking a man up at a gay bar, strangling him to death, and then placing the body in a blue plastic barrel; the address of the abandoned apartment where the barrel was left (25th Street, on block 213) also coincided with the location of Dahmer's residence (North 25th Street, Apartment 213).
- Note: In addition to these mentions and references, Dahmer is said to have been a source of inspiration for a majority of the unsubs in the show, according to the CBS website.
- Wikipedia's article about Dahmer
- TruTV Crime Library articles about Dahmer
- Radford University's summary of Dahmer's life
- Angelfire's article about Dahmer's victims
- Serial Killer Lab's article about Dahmer's M.O.
- Murderpedia's article about Dahmer's victims
- The Crime Web's September timeline article that mentions Dahmer
- Erotophonophilia (2010)
- Evil Beyond Belief (2009)
- 101 Crimes of the Century (2008)
- Signature Killers: Interpreting the Calling Cards of the Serial Murderer (1997)
- Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Secret: The Unsolved Murder of Adam Walsh (2016)