10 Disturbing Facts About Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer
Few serial killers have shocked the nation—even the world—like Jeffrey Dahmer. His numerous crimes were almost unbelievably grotesque and extreme, yet they occurred in an ordinary apartment building, right under the noses of his neighbors. After Dahmer, it became a little bit harder to trust the apparently normal people around us. That mild mannered fellow we see walking his dog every day—does he have a secret? What does he keep in his refrigerator? It would not be an exaggeration to say that something about the story of Jeffrey Dahmer has gotten under our collective skin.In spite of his great notoriety, Dahmer remains very much a mystery. By all accounts his upbringing was unremarkable and his family not very different from the others in his Ohio town. But something obviously went very, very wrong inside Jeffrey Dahmer. His case was bizarre in many ways, even beyond the overwhelming bizarreness of his crimes. Here are some of the strangest and most disturbing facts about Jeffrey Dahmer.
10. As a Child, He Was Fixated on Dead Animals
Although he experienced a relatively normal childhood, Dahmer’s family and friends noted that little Jeffy had a number of … peculiarities. When his father, Lionel, once cleaned the remains of dead rodents out from under the house, four-year-old Jeff couldn’t help but play with them, happily running his hands through the bones. He seemed enthralled with the clattering noise they made. His father, interpreting this at the time as a sign of normal childhood curiosity, was only creeped-out in restrospect.
From the age of six on up, signs of Dahmer’s future psychopathy only increased. He’d had a fairly minor hernia surgery that seemed to go well, but family members reported that his personality was forever altered afterwards. He became quiet and focused inward, spending long periods alone. His parents say he seemed to disconnect from him at this time. He also took up a new hobby around this time: collecting roadkill and animal skeletons. He’d clean the flesh off the bones with acid from a toy chemistry set. His pals at the time said he appeared to be obsessed with what went on underneath the animals’ skin. He stabbed frogs on sticks and preserved insects in bottles. By the time high school rolled around, he was considered undeniably eccentric, and classmates took note of how suddenly studious he became when it was time to dissect a fetal pig in biology class. Word was he also played the clarinet.
9. He Committed His First Murder Within Weeks of High School Graduation
Dahmer started drinking alcohol at the age of 13, and by the time he was ready to graduate he was a hardenedalcoholic. Even though he frequently drank while he was at school and spent many of his educational hours three sheets to the wind, he graduated on time with the rest of his class–clearly those were the days long before No Child Left Behind. He claims to have begun having sexual fantasies involving dead bodies during high school, and blames some of it on the stress of his parents’ dissolving marriage. Of course, many of us deal with our parents’ divorces without resorting to necrophilia and alcoholism, but different strokes for different folks.
Still, it must have been a surprise for Dahmer when, during that first post-school summer vaycay, he suddenly found himself with a real live dead human body of his very own. Though the story didn’t come out until many years later, that 1978 murder would be the first of many to come. The incredibly unlucky victim was a 19-year-old named Steven Hicks, who had been hitchhiking when fate put Dahmer into the first car that pulled over for him. Dahmer took Hicks back to his father’s house, gave him a few beers, had sex with him, and when Hicks decided to get back on the road, smashed the young man in the back of the head with a barbell. Hicks got buried in the back yard, and Dahmer had a new pastime. He went on to join the Army. When he got back, kicked out for alcoholism, he dug Hicks’s body up and sprinkled it around in the woods.
8. He Might Have Killed the Son of America’s Most Wanted Host John Walsh
Although the official story states that Dahmer did not kill anyone after Hicks until 1987, rumors persist that Dahmer may have been responsible for a number of unsolved murders that took place during the early half of the 80’s. Dahmer was briefly stationed in West Germany at this time, working as a medic. While he was there, five murders involving mutilation reportedly occurred and remain unsolved. A friend of Dahmer’s also claimed that the budding serial killer murdered a hitchhiker while in Germany–the same MO he used in his very first murder.
However, the more shocking, and possibly less plausible, suspicion is that Jeffrey Dahmer killed six-year-old Adam Walsh. Walsh was abducted from a department store in Florida in 1981, strangled and beheaded. The young boy’s murder horrified the nation and galvanized his father John, who went on to bring attention to many other crimes via the television show America’s Most Wanted. Dahmer was living nearby at the time, and two witnesses claim to have seen him with the boy. The decapitation was certainly up Dahmer’s alley, although Walsh was considerably younger than Dahmer’s other victims.
This crime was eventually pinned on killer Ottis Toole who confessed to it–and then retracted it, and then confessed again. Toole and his partner in crime, Henry Lee Lucas, together confessed to over a hundred murders. Some doubt remains, however, that Toole killed anyone at all. He may have just liked the attention he got when he confessed. Don’t we all?
In any event, Dahmer denied killing Walsh. As he himself pointed out, he confessed to everything else, why hold this one back? Notably, though, Florida had the death penalty, which Ohio and Wisconsin did not.
7. Dahmer Killed Three People While Living With–His Grandmother
In 1982, Dahmer moved to West Allis, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, in order to live with his aged grandmother, Catherine Dahmer. His Milwaukee years were characterized by increasingly strange behavior. One of his first acts upon returning to his birth state was to purchase a .357 Magnum for “target practice.” His father forced him to get rid of it–clearly, Lionel didn’t buy the target practice excuse. Dahmer once stole a department store mannequin and brought it home for sexual purposes. When his grandmother found it, he told her it was just a prank. In 1983, he got a job at a Blood Plasma Center. He reportedly stole a vial of blood, took it home and drank it. His family, while most likely aware that Dahmer had problems, were unable or unwilling to face how truly disturbed the young man was.
In fact, when Dahmer was arrested for masturbating in front of two young boys, Lionel believed the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. The fact that his family had a tendency to look the other way probably made it easy for Dahmer, once he killed a man in a Milwaukee hotel, to take the body back to Gramma’s house and dismember it. Lionel even reports finding a mysterious metal box in the basement–the basement smelled pretty horrible by this point–and asked Jeffrey to open it for him. Jeff refused, saying he’d show him later. When he did, the next day, the box contained only slightly embarrassing porno mags. Of course, if Lionel had opened the box when he first found it, he’d have been confronted with the awful sight of a decapitated human head.
Perhaps if he had insisted on looking in the box, all the horrible events that eventually occurred could have been avoided. Instead, Dahmer killed and cut up two more men right under his family’s noses before getting his own apartment.
6. Dahmer Really, Really, Really Wanted a Zombie
After his final arrest, Dahmer confessed that he attempted a primitive lobotomy on several of his victims. He drilled into their skulls while they were alive, even going so far as dripping acid into the holes. This technique didn’t exactly work the way Dahmer intended. Each of his victims died within two days. It must have been an unimaginably horrible experience for them.
Some experts at the time speculated that if Dahmer could have just made himself a perfect zombie sex slave, he wouldn’t have had to go through all the trouble of murdering them in the first place. Dahmer himself even argued that his desire to have a zombie of his very own meant that he wasn’t really a necrophiliac. All he wanted, you see, was a sex slave. He wanted to have complete control over his sexual partners, and understandably, living non-zombies weren’t always so into that. However, the majority of necrophiliacs express the desire to have a sexual partner who will never, ever reject them or resist. So, zombie-love is perfectly compatible with necrophilia, even if the person would be technically alive.
Fascinated by this idea, author Joyce Carol Oates wrote a novel called Zombie, which was loosely based on Dahmer’s experimentation. It was a big seller.