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Society has always produced plenty of monsters, who then represented an attack on the whole moral structure of the community (Tithecott 4). Jeffrey Dahmer became one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. From 1988 until his capture in 1991, this young necrophiliac and cannibal were responsible for murdering and dismembering seventeen young men (Greene and Heilbrun 213). Jeffrey Dahmer is always perceived as a homophobe, who had hate within his soul, as a racist and a killer of mostly black and predominantly gays (Tithecott 5).
He had a ritual for luring, killing, and then eating or disposing of his victims. Being a young, charming blonde American man, he used to meet with his victims in bars, invited them to his apartment to watch pornographic films, and strangled the drugged victims with his hands or using a leather strap. Some men died instantly, but some survived and had been tortured for a few days.
He got rid of most of the bodies in his apartment, using various chemicals to dissolve the flesh and then poured it down the toilet or drains, but he also liked to eat some parts of his victims, applying various meat tendering methods to the process of cooking human flesh. He tried himself at taxidermy, using different techniques to preserve the heads, genitals, and organs of the murdered men. An extensive collection of skulls and bones was found in his apartment when the police searched.
The crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer were so horrific, and his motivations were so disturbing that it is hardly possible to grasp the depth of his psychopathology (Encyclopedia 119). However, one should remember that serial killers are not born, they are made by society and shaped by the environment. It means that if one wants to understand the formation of the personality of a serial killer, he or she should trace his or her life from the very early years.
Early Years and Mid-Teens of Jeffrey Dahmer
He was born in Milwaukee on the twenty-first of May 1960 in the family of Lionel and Joyce Dahmer and was a much-wanted first child. Later, in 1994, Lionel Dahmer wrote a book A Father’s Story, in which he reported that Jeffrey was a happy little boy, who enjoyed typical childish activities. In 1966, when Jeffrey was six years old, his father was offered a job as a research chemist, and the family moved to Ohio.
Young Jeffrey was sexually abused by a neighbor boy, and besides, he was constantly subjected to blistering arguments of his mother and father (T. Philbin and M. Philbin 113). Dahmer's surgery, which coincided with the birth of his younger brother David, made him increasingly reserved and unconfident. In his early teens, Jeffrey was unsociable, tense and largely friendless, uncommunicative, and withdrawn.
By the age of ten, Dahmer was showing the first signs of a future murderer - he enjoyed violating the bodies of dead animals such as decapitating mice and mounting the heads of a dog on a stake (T. Philbin and M. Philbin 113). He spent his free time alone, sunk deeply into his fantasies. At that time, the sense of something dark and shadowy was growing inside Jeffrey that would soon break out of him.
In 1977, Lionel Dahmer divorced Joyce, who took the youngest son, David, to live with her, while Jeffrey stayed with his father and his new stepmother Shari. Eric Hickey points out that “the perceived abandonment by his mother and the estrangement he felt with his father only added to Jeffrey’s distorted thinking” (Encyclopedia 119).
After high school, where Jeffrey Dahmer had average grades, he entered the Ohio State University. As he spent most of his time skipping classes and getting drunk, he was consequently dropped out and had to join the Army. After serving only two years, he was discharged, owing to his drunken behavior. Later on, Jeffrey Dahmer tried several jobs, but was eventually kicked out for drinking and was even arrested for drunk and disorderly behavior in 1981. Subsequently, he was arrested several times for masturbating in public and sexually fondling a teenager in Milwaukee. Evidently, he needed therapy, but his father was unable to understand what was happening and accept the seriousness of the situation.
Murders and Arrest of Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer committed his first crime in June 1978. Jeffrey picked up Steven and took him home, hoping to have sex with him. At Dahmer’s home, they smoked, drank some beer, and listened to some music. Steven was not actually gay, so when he decided to get back on his way, Jeffrey desperately wanted him to stay longer, and to prevent his leaving, Dahmer smashed Steven’s head.
Nine years had passed before he encountered his second victim. Dahmer met Steven Toumi in a gay bar in September 1987, they drank heavily, and the next morning, Toumi was found dead. As Jeffrey said to the police, he was not able to remember what could have happened that night, probably, he killed Toumi on impulse. The murderer transported the victim’s body in the large suitcase to his grandmother's basement, where he had sex with and masturbated on the corpse, satisfying his sexual necrophilia desires. Eventually, he dismembered it and disposed of the remains in the garbage.
Dahmer was torn by the sexual fantasies, including the crimes against the corpse of his victims, or what can be referred to as the passive sex. It was a kind of obsession and an irresistible desire that pushed him to kill (Encyclopedia 119).
Jeffrey Dahmer killed his victims in his grandmother's basement. His murders were sporadic, though, for most of his victims, the scene was the same. As a rule, he met his victims at a gay bar or mall, luring them with free alcohol or offering money if they agreed to pose for photographs. To most of the men, murdered by Jeffrey Dahmer, this young attractive blonde American man seemed like an average sociable person.
The process of enticing victims, predominantly of African American or Asian origin, became routine for the serial killer. Once they were in his apartment, he drugged them, handcuffed, tortured them before killing them by strangulation. Before dismembering the body and getting rid of the remains, he masturbated over the corpse or had sex with the corpse. Jeffrey Dahmer also cannibalized several of his victims. Besides, he had a collection of the skulls of his favorite victims.
On July 22, 1991, Jeffrey’s last intended victim - Tracy Edwards – managed to escape and alerted two police officers on patrol. When the police officers penetrated his apartment, they saw a frightening picture of decomposing skeletal and human remains, felt a terrible smell, coming from a barrel, and were shocked to find the head in the refrigerator.
Trial, Imprisonment, and Death. Jeffrey Dahmer confessed to murdering and dismembering 15 to 17 young men and boys. His defense tried to prove that he committed crimes by insanity and offered proof that only someone mentally incompetent could commit such terrible acts.
Nonetheless, the jury voted that he did not have any mental disease at all and was fully aware of his evil deeds (Greene and Heilbrun 213). The jury did what the community wanted. The trial lasted for two weeks. Jeffrey Dahmer was found sane, guilty and was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms in prison, totaling 957 years. At his sentencing hearing, Jeffrey Dahmer blamed no one or anything for his crimes, neither his parents nor the society.
On November 28, 1994, Jeffrey was beaten to death by a schizophrenic African-American murderer, Christopher Scarver. Some attempts were made by medical researchers, who wanted the serial killer’s brain to be donated to science. However, Lionel Dahmer insisted on the cremation service after his son’s death. His father and stepmother were the only mourners at Jeffrey’s funeral.
Jeffrey Dahmer's murders were so horrific that even now, psychiatrists and psychopathologists keep studying and analyzing his antisocial personality disorder, known as the sociopathic personality disorder, to find out what exactly was the reason for such conduct - nature or nurture.