MoM 4: Jeffrey Dahmer, The Milwaukee Cannibal
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When you think of murderous cannibalism – who comes to mind?
The Wisconsin Cannibal.
The Milwaukee Monster.
Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer and sex offender during the late 70’s through the early 90’s. He drugged, strangled, raped, dismembered, and committed atrocious acts of necrophilia and cannibalism on at least 17 men.
Before we delve into the murderous life that Dahmer created for himself, let’s start from a place in time when he was truly innocent.
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960. His parents were Lionel Herbert Dahmer, an analytical chemist, and his mother, Joyce Annette Dahmer. They both describe him as a typical boisterous and loud little boy. Until at the age of four, when he went into surgery to correct a double hernia. After the surgery he was a different boy. Something had changed. He was now noticeably subdued and over the next ten years or so he became increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative.
When he was seven years old, his brother David was born. This worsened Jeffrey’s attitude.
When Jeffrey was eight years old, the family moved to Bath, Ohio. Here he showed very little interest in hobbies or social activities. He preferred to ride his bike around the neighborhood looking for the carcasses of dead animals. He enjoyed dissecting the bodies in the woods or taking them back to his house to examine them. One, disturbing, time he placed a dog’s head on a spike.
Here we have the makings of a total psychopath. Lack of empathy, lack of guilt or remorse, dishonesty, animal torture – this is the recipe for a serial killer. Please keep in mind that not everyone who experiences life this way will grow up to become a murderer. There is usually something deeper and more traumatic that occurs to trigger the murderous impulses into reality.
Jeffrey attended Revere High School and was largely a loner who did poorly in his lessons. He did become popular for one thing – he would mock his mother’s interior decorator, who had cerebral palsy. While in high school he began to drink heavily. He was disengaged from life around him, he was tense and for the most part, friendless.
Looking back after his crimes, he said that his murder and necrophilia urges began around the age of 14. Though he wouldn’t act them for a few more years. This was also the time that his parent’s marriage was dissolving. They were going through a bitter divorce. The divorce was finalized in 1977.
Jeffrey graduated high school by the skin of his teeth in 1978. Three weeks later, at only 18 years old, he would go on to take his first victim. Steven Hicks. Dahmer’s father was out of the house on a business trip and his mother had recently moved away and taken his brother David. So, he was alone.
Hicks was a hitchhiker that Dahmer came across and told him they could go to his father’s house to get drunk and have sex. Dahmer was able to get the man drunk quickly but Hicks soon wanted to leave. When he tried to leave, he was bludgeoned over the head with a 10-pound dumbbell. Then he was strangled to death. Dahmer then took his time to dissect, dissolve, pulverize, and bury the body in the backyard in small plastic bags. He later exhumed the body, crushed it up further and scattered it in the woods.
Dahmer later admitted that he killed Hicks because he wanted him to stay. He didn’t want to be alone.
That fall, Dahmer started attended university classes at Ohio State University. He only lasted for one semester before dropping out due to his alcoholism. He regularly missed class and when he did show up, he would be drunk and barely able to function.
After dropping out, his father insisted that he enlist in the military and do something with his life. He officially enlisted in December of 1978. He was soon posted in Germany as a combat medic. He did well at first with the strict routine and regulations of the military. But soon alcoholism became a problem again. He was discharged in 1981 because of his uncontrollable drinking. He was told that he could have a plane ticket to anywhere in the United States – he chose Florida. He said that he felt “tired and cold”.
He was in Florida for a relatively short time, he spent most of it in the hospital, it is unclear why. Perhaps related to his drinking. Later that year he returned to Ohio to face his disappointed father.
His drinking continued and he was arrested for disorderly conduct in 1981. After this, he was sent to live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin. He lived with her for six years. She said the time that Jeffrey spent in her house was odd. She once found a fully dressed male mannequin in his closet. He said that he had stolen it from a local store. She also found a .357 Magnum under his bed. She said that he was prone to stay out all night and abuse alcohol. She would continually complain to Jeffrey and his father about the smell coming from the basement. He told them that he had brought home a dead squirrel and dissolved its body in acid. That’s what was creating the repugnant smell.
He was arrested again. This time for indecent exposure.
He became a regular at gay bath houses. He was accused of drugging and raping men while they were unconscious. He was never charged with rape – only indecent exposure. He was banned from the bath houses.
The indecent exposure escalated in 1985, when Dahmer was accused by two young boys of masturbating in front of them. He was only given a one-year probationary sentencing.
After completing his probation his grandmother asked him to leave her home. She was no longer comfortable with his late nights, strange behavior, and the foul smells coming from the basement. He quickly found an apartment on Milwaukee’s west side, close to his job at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory.
What I am about to tell you is extremely graphic and disturbing. Please proceed with caution.
There were nine years between Dahmer’s first and second victim. September 15, 1987. He may not have intended to kill this victim. In fact, when he met 26-year-old Steven Tuomi, they agreed to go to Dahmer’s hotel room and have a drink. Dahmer claimed that he drank into black out drunkenness and when he woke up the next morning – Tuomi was dead beside him.
To dispose of the body, he brought in a large suitcase and carried him out. He took the body back to his grandmother’s basement. Here he proceeded to masturbate over the corpse then dismember it. He threw the remains into the forest.
The following year, in 1988, Dahmer murdered two men.
James “Jamie” Doxtator. A 14-year-old boy that Dahmer offered money to take nude photos. He took the boy back to his grandmother’s basement. They had sex then he drugged and strangled the boy. He used acid and his own brute strength to destroy the body.
Two months later he lured 25-year-old Richard Guerrero with the same excuse of cash for nude photos to his grandmother’s house. They had sex. He then drugged and strangled him. He disposed of his body in a similar manner to the previous victim.
James “Jamie” Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, and Anthony Sears
There was an incident on September 25, 1988, that got Jeffrey into some hot water. He was charged with sexual exploitation and second-degree sexual assault and for enticing a child for immoral purposes. Dahmer had offered a 13-year-old Laotian boy $50 to pose nude. He gave the boy drugged coffee and fondled him while he was unconscious. Unbeknownst to Dahmer, the boy wasn’t fully unconscious. He managed to escape at his first opportunity. He was convicted of this crime in January 1989.
It is here that the timeline becomes somewhat fuzzy.
After he was convicted of the charges I just mentioned, he was given five years’ probation, one year at a work release camp (he could go to work during the day and return to prison at night, he was monitored closely), and he was required to register as a sex offender.
It was during this time, in March 1989, that he murdered Anthony Sears. He lured the man to his grandmother’s basement where he drugged, strangled, sodomized, photographed, dismembered, and disposed of the body. He kept Sears skull as a souvenir. How was he able to kill this man if he was under strict supervision from the prison?
While Dahmer was incarcerated, his father wrote a letter to the judge who had presided over his son’s trial. He requested psychological help for his son. Before the letter could be seriously considered, Dahmer was released. He only served 10-months and moved back in with his grandmother.
Between this time and when he moved into his own apartment in 1990, it appears that he did not kill anyone else.
The apartment he moved into would become synonymous with his atrocious crimes. He moved in, in May 1990 and quickly lost what little control he had left. There would be 13 victims over the next year.
Ricky Beeks. 33-years-old. Dahmer met him at a club and offered him money to pose nude. He was drugged and strangled. Dahmer had sex with the body afterwards. Beeks painted skull was later found during the search of the apartment.
Edward “Eddie” Smith. 28-years-old. They met at a local bar. Dahmer offered him money to pose nude. After Eddie was dead, Dahmer took great pleasure in photographing every step of the dismemberment.
Ernest Miller. 24-years-old. They met at a bookstore. Dahmer offered him money for sex. This is the only victim that he did not strangle. Instead he cut the man’s throat after sex. He took pictures during the dismemberment. He placed the biceps in the freezer, bleached the skull, and painted it. It was recovered after the arrest. It was with this victim that he seriously began experimenting with cannibalism.
Ricky Meeks, Edward Smith, and Ernest Miller
David Thomas. Dahmer ran across him while walking down the street and offered him money for sex. Once back at the apartment, Dahmer didn’t wait to have sex first. He immediately killed Thomas and took pictures during the dismemberment.
By the summer of 1991, he was killing at least one person a week.
Curtis Straughter. 18-years-old. Picked him up while he was waiting at a bus stop. He offered him money for sex and brought him back to the apartment. He drugged, strangled, and had sex with the body. He dismembered it and kept the skull – which was found after the arrest, unpainted.
Errol Lindsey. 19-years-old. They met on the street and Dahmer offered him money for sex. He was drugged, strangled, and he had sex with the body. The unpainted skull was found after the arrest.
David Thomas, Curtis Straughter, and Errol Lindsey
The next victim that Dahmer picked up very narrowly missed his chance at freedom. It was the younger brother of the boy he had molested in 1988. Two women called into the police in hysterics, reporting that a young boy was walking around the neighborhood naked, incoherent (obviously out of his mind on drugs), and bleeding from his rectum.
Before the police arrived on the scene, Dahmer arrived and attempted to take the boy back up to his apartment, but the two ladies wouldn’t let him. The officers that responded were John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish. Dahmer calmly explained that the boy was his 19-year-old lover. He told the officers that they had been drinking, had a lover’s quarrel, and he stormed out of the apartment.
The women knew this story was a complete farce and tried to tell the police so. They told them that they knew the boy from the neighborhood and knew for a fact that he was no older than 14-years-old. They attempted to explain that the boy could not speak English.
Their concerns were brushed off. They escorted the men back to Dahmer’s apartment and briefly poked their heads in to have a look. They said there was a strange smell, but they did not investigate any further. If they had investigated, they would have found the dead, decomposing body of one of the latest victims in the bedroom.
The police didn’t want any further involvement in the homosexual domestic disturbance, so they left them alone.
Dahmer killed him almost immediately but not before attempting a crude lobotomy on the boy.
He was almost caught in the act but he would not be deterred. He kept murdering.
Tony Hughes. 31-years-old. They had known each other for at least two years. Tony was deaf and mute, and they communicated through letters and notes. Dahmer offered him money to come and pose nude. He was drugged and murdered. There was no sex. His body was dismembered, and the unpainted skull was later found after his arrest.
Matt Turner. 20-years-old. Dahmer met this boy at the bus station after a gay pride parade in Chicago. He offered him money to pose. Then drugged and strangled him with a strap. Turner’s head was placed in the freezer and the other pieces of the body were placed in a large blue barrel of acid.
Tony Hughes, Matt Turner, and Jeremiah Weinberger
This would become his signature disposal method. He would meticulously dismember his victims, photographing every step of the way. Even posing some of the bodies. He would then save bits and pieces of them and destroy what was left in this vat of acid. Where he got the large blue drum of acid is unclear. The sludge that was left over, he would fish out and flush down the toilet.
He began to see himself as kind of a mad scientist. He wanted to create the perfect zombie, submissive sex-slave. To do this, he experimented by drilling holes into the heads of his victims, usually while they were still alive, and pouring in boiling water or hydrochloric acid. He was aiming for the frontal lobe area of the brain. Thinking that if he killed off this section of the brain, he would have his “perfect specimen.”
The killing continued.
Jeremiah Weinberger. 23-years-old. They met at a Chicago gay bar. Dahmer offered him money for sex and said they could go back to his apartment in Milwaukee. Dahmer treated this man differently. He let the man live for at least one full day at his apartment before drugging and strangling him. He disposed of him in his regular manner.
In July 1991, Dahmer was fired from his job at the chocolate factory because of his poor attendance. That same day he picked up his next victim.
Oliver Lacy. 23-years-old. He agreed to go back to Dahmer’s apartment for “full body rubs.” He was immediately drugged and strangled. His head was put in the fridge and his heart in the freezer “to eat later.”
Joseph Bradehoft. 25-years-old. Dahmer picked him up at a bus station and offered him money for nude photos. They had consensual sex before Dahmer went about drugging and strangling him with a strap. He placed this man’s head in the fridge and dumped his body in the acid barrel.
Finally, we come to last attempted victim.
Tracy Edwards. 32-years-old. Dahmer lured him to his apartment with promises of cash for sex. He was forced into the bedroom at knife point and there was a struggle. Dahmer was able to get at least one handcuff on Edwards before he was punched in the face, kicked in the stomach, and Edwards ran out the door.
Oliver Lacy, Joseph Bradehoft, and Tracy Edwards
Edwards was able to flag down a passing police car and he told them about the “weird dude” that had restrained him. He led them back to Dahmer’s apartment. Dahmer was calm while talking the police and attempted to tell them that they had just had a lover’s quarrel. He had the keys to the handcuffs, and he would gladly hand them over. Edwards remembered the knife that Dahmer had used to push him into the bedroom. The bedroom that smelled so horrible and had those graphic pictures on the walls.
Police came into the apartment and investigated the bedroom. The officers found the photographs in the bedroom and promptly arrested Dahmer. One officer made the grave mistake of looking in the fridge. There he found a human head.
More thorough investigations were done in the apartment. They found some haunting things:
The head in the refrigerator, three more in the freezer, severed hands and genitalia, preserved skulls (at least seven were found, some painted, some unpainted), a human heart, and finally they found an altar in his closet, where all of the skulls were set up in a bizarre fashion with candles. Not the mention the extensive collection of macabre photography.
Jeffrey Dahmer was charged with 17 counts of murder. It was later reduced to 15. He was not charged with the attempted murder of Tracy Edwards.
His trial began on January 30, 1992. He pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He said he did these things because of an uncontrollable impulse. His defense team wanted to show that he had committed these crimes, but he had not known the severity of his actions. They told every gruesome detail of his behavior, as proof that only an insane man would do these awful things.
At the trial, strict security measures were enforced. An eight-foot tall barrier of bulletproof glass was put up to separate Dahmer from the gallery in the courtroom. Extra guards were placed on the premises as well.
Ultimately, the jury believed the prosecution. Dahmer was found guilty, and sane, on February 15, 1992. It took the jury 10-hours of deliberation to come to this conclusion. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in prison. Which was a total of 957 years. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty so he would spend the rest of his natural life in prison.
A 16th murder conviction was brought down upon him for the murder of Steven Hicks.
While in prison, he claimed to become a reformed man. He served his time at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.
Initially, he was kept segregated from the general population. He did express remorse for his actions and talked frequently about wanting to die. Eventually, he convinced prison officials to let him mingle with the other inmates.
He began to better himself. He found religion with some help from his father. His father stayed in regular contact and sent him letters, books, and photos. Jeffrey said he was a born-again Christian and he was ready for his final judgement.
Then he was attacked by a fellow inmate.
On November 28, 1994, while attending to his work duties with two other convicted murderers, he was bludgeoned over the head with a metal bar from the prison weight room. His murderer was Christopher Scarver. Dahmer was pronounced dead one hour after the attack. Scarver claimed that the guards allowed the attack to happen because they left them alone.
Scarver became somewhat of a folk hero in the Milwaukee community. He had taken out one of the worst monsters that the city had ever seen. The police urged everyone to remember – this was still murder.
The apartment where these atrocious acts happened was demolished in 1992. A memorial garden was being planned for some time, but the plan never came to fruition.
In 1996, a group of citizens, The Milwaukee Civic Pride, raised more than $400,000 to purchase the items from Dahmer’s crimes. They bought and collected all the blades, saws, handcuffs, the refrigerator – anything related to his crimes. They came together in an undisclosed landfill and destroyed the objects. They wanted to distance their city from the gruesomeness of Dahmer’s legacy.
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