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Jeffery Dahmer: The Serial Killer
Jeffery Dahmer was born into a family most would call a loving household. He lived in the peaceful home of Joyce and Lionel Dahmer. How could he become so cruel and emotionless? How could he turn into a serial killer?
Jeffery Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 in Milwaukee, Iowa. Family and friends described him as a happy child without a care in the world. (“Jeffery Dahmer”) The adults loved Dahmer as a child because he was polite, neat and clean, and seemed anxious to please. Dahmer had a very hard time keeping friends, by the time he was in Junior High his isolated loneliness began to show. Some say this initiated his alcoholism. (Gibson 92)
After a career opportunity came up for his father, they were forced to move from Iowa to Ohio. After the move, around his teen years, he seemed to detach from society and had no friends. It seems his psychopathic tendencies, which had built up over time, started around this time. (“Jeffery Dahmer”)
“Jeffery Dahmer claims that compulsions to murder and necrophilia had occurred to him from the age of fourteen” (“Jeffery Dahmer”). Necrophilia is the sexual attraction to corpses, which can be anywhere from kissing the corpse to drinking the corpse’s blood or eating its flesh. “A constant observation has been that necrophilic individuals often choose an occupation that provides them ready access to corpses” (Graham, 1-2), like a coroner or, in Dahmer’s case, become a serial killer. Cannibalism is similar to necrophilia, but does not involve attraction to corpses. However, a subclass, sexual cannibalism, is cannibalism with necrophilia. Dahmer was classified as both. (Olson 222)
He killed and dissected numerous animals from cats to dogs, starting at age 10. Some would end up in his pet graveyard, while other’s heads would be put on a stake and scattered around the woods. Eventually, that was not enough to fulfill his “fantasy”. His first victim was Steven Hicks.
After he graduated from high school, in June of 1978, he picked up Hicks, a hitchhiker. It was the perfect opportunity to fulfill his fantasy of picking up a hitchhiker and killing him. Dahmer brought Hicks back to his parent’s house where they had a few drinks. Later, when Hicks tried to leave Dahmer hit him in the back of the head with a barbell, killing him. Later, he ate and dismembered him, and then stuffed him into plastic bags, which he buried in the woods that were in the back of the house. Dahmer also photographed everything, so he could “relive” it.
January of 1979, Dahmer dropped out of Ohio State due to alcoholism (or being addicted to alcohol) and his father insisted he go into the military. He was sent to Germany, but was soon discharged for alcoholism. We do not know that he killed anyone while on duty. After he went home, he dug up Hick’s body, which were bones by now and then smashed them to bits with a hammer, and scattered the bones, widely, throughout the woods.
During September of 1987, Dahmer killed Steven Toumi. They met at a gay bar, checked into a motel, drank heavily, and (according to Dahmer) Steven somehow died because he woke to find him dead. Dahmer just happened to have a large suitcase ready to transport Toumi’s body to his grandmother’s house. Where he then ate, dismembered, and disposed of the remains in the rubbish. Dahmer took pictures of everything.
At this time he would have not been classified as a serial killer. To be classified as a serial killer you have to kill at least three people, over a long period of time, one at a time. The profile of a typical serial killer is “a white male between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five, often an only child or the eldest child in a family, who believes he is more intelligent than ordinary people.” (Serial Killers, 1396) Dahmer fit the profile perfectly.
With his other 13 victims, he did about the same thing drugging them, mutilating them, freezing some of the remains, sometimes eating them, photographing everything, and then disposing of the body.
In 1991, Dahmer was almost caught, if it had not been for the negligence of two police officers who did not want to get involved with a “homosexual domestic dispute”. A fourteen-year-old Laotian boy somehow managed to escape, and was running naked in the streets. Dahmer’s neighbor called the police, on May 26 of 1991, when the police got there Dahmer claimed this fourteen-year-old boy was his nineteen-year-old lover who had gotten a little too drunk. The police escorted them back to Dahmer’s house, where they should have looked in every room as a follow up. However, they did not leaving the fourteen year old to die minutes later. If they had, they would have found enough evidence to put him away and not kill the fourteen-year-old boy
On July 22 of 1991, two police officers found a young African-American boy, Tracy Edwards, wandering the streets with a handcuff hanging from his wrist. “They decided to follow up his claims that a "weird dude" had drugged and restrained him, and arrived at Dahmer's apartment, where Dahmer calmly offered to get the keys for the handcuffs.” (“Jeffery Dahmer”) A real follow up search revealed gory pictures, frozen heads in the freezer, and many other preserved body parts. The officer restrained Dahmer and quickly took him away.
During interrogation, Dahmer confessed to everything and pleaded guilty by reason of insanity, despite what his attorneys said. “His defense then offered every gruesome detail of his behavior, as proof that only someone insane could commit such terrible acts” (“Jeffery Dahmer”) "I carried it too far, that's for sure, I was not into torture. This was not a hate thing. This thing had no racism. This was not a homosexual thing." Jeffery Dahmer said. ("'I carried it too far, that's for sure”)
So was Dahmer insane? Surely, no “normal” person would commit such gruesome murders and have no problem recalling it for everyone. However, truly insane people do not know right from wrong and do not know that their actions have consequences. Dahmer certainly knew he had done wrong; otherwise, he would not have tried to run, get out of it, and hide it. Dr. Friedman, the prosecuting psychologist, during the prosecution said “He kept remains as trophies. That may sound kind of cruel, but he was a kind of hunter.” (“On Trial”) He was also a psychopath, which gave him that hunter personality. Psychopathic Personality Disorder, a severe lack of remorse to the point of no guilt.
Therefore, “the jury chose to believe the prosecutor's assertion that Dahmer was fully aware that his acts were evil, but that he chose to commit them anyway, returning after only five hours of deliberation to find him guilty, but sane, on all counts, on February 17, 1992.” (“Jeffery Dahmer”) Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in Columbia Correctional Institution, where Christopher Scarver killed him, while Dahmer was mopping.
We will never know how Dahmer came to be a psychopathic serial killer. We just don’t know, but there is plenty of speculation. Some think he was born with the psychopathic personality disorder, while other think some unknown event triggered it, but there’s no way to prove it.
Graham, Cynthia A. “Necrophilia.” Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Vol. 3. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 1060-1061. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
" Jeffrey Dahmer." 2012. Biography.com 24 Feb 2012, 06:09 http://www.biography.com/people/jeffrey-dahmer-9264755
"'I carried it too far, that's for sure.' | Psychology Today." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199204/i-carried-it-too-far-thats-sure>.
“Serial Killers.” U*X*L Encyclopedia of U.S. History Sonia Benson, Daniel E. Brannen, Jr., and Rebecca Valentine. Ed. Lawrence W. Baker and Sarah Hermsen. Vol. 7. Detroit: UXL, 2009. 1395-1397. Student Resources in Context. Web. 27 Feb. 2012
Olson, Whitney Jones. “Cannibalism.” Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2007. 222-224. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
Gibson, Dirk Cameron. "Serial murder and media circuses - Dirk Cameron Gibson - Google Books." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. <http://books.google.com/books?id=Rk02oF0aCvgC&lpg=PA92&dq=dahmer%20childhood&pg=PA92#v=onepage&q=dahmer%20childhood&f=false>.
"ON TRIAL: DAHMER: PSYCHOLOGIST SAYS STALKER IS SANE DESPITE KILLING AND SOMETIMES EATING HIS PREY. | Deseret News." Salt Lake City and Utah Breaking news, sports, entertainment and news headlines - Deseret News. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2012. <http://www.deseretnews.com/article/208577/ON-TRIAL-DAHMER-PSYCHOLOGIST-SAYS-STALKER-IS-SANE-DESPITE-KILLING--AND-SOMETIMES-EATING-HIS-PREY.html>.