Few names incite as much terror as Jeffrey Dahmer, and, while it’s been 30 years since the serial killer tormented Milwaukee, his name is still infamous to this day. Known for his cannibalistic tendencies and perverse fantasies, the killer targeted young men, luring them back to his home before taking their lives. It took decades for authorities to finally catch him, but once they did, the world was never the same.
Despite his unimaginable evil, by most accounts, Dahmer lived a fairly normal childhood, but his parents divorce combined with a raging alcohol problem would send him into an unsociable, problematic and eventually murderous spiral at age 18.
Below, everything you need to know about the atrocities committed by Dahmer, including how he was eventually caught.
What crimes did Jeffrey Dahmer commit?
Jeffrey Dahmer is a convicted American serial killer and sex offender. Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer murdered 17 men, committing heinous acts against their bodies, including rape, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism.
He committed his first murder at age 18, when he picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks and took him back to his family home to drink beer. When Hicks made moves to leave, Dahmer became enraged, hitting him in the back of the head with a 4.5kg dumbbell. He then dissected Hicks’ remains and scattered them throughout his backyard. He wouldn’t kill again for nine years after this.
As his alcoholism worsened, he was arrested twice between 1982-1986 for incidents of indecent exposure, but only received probation. He was also known for drugging and raping men in gay bathhouses during this time, but was never arrested.
In September 1987, he claimed his second victim — Steven Tuomi. He picked him up and took him to a hotel, where he claims he awoke to discover his beaten, dead body. Dahmer claims he blacked out from drunkenness and couldn’t recall the events which transpired, maintaining that he had no knowledge of killing him.
Following this, Dahmer claimed two victims in 1988, one in 1989, and four in 1990. His modus operandi was to lure men from bars or solicit male sex workers, whom he then drugged, raped, and strangled. It was around this time that his dark, sexual fantasies became even more twisted, where he would carry out disturbing acts with their corpses, dismember them, keep some of their body parts on display and preserve some for consumption. He would also drill holes into their skulls while they were alive and inject acid into the open holes, in an attempt to create his own ‘sex zombies.’
During this time, Dahmer was working at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory, where he was arrested for drugging and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy. He was given a sentence of five years probation, one year at a work release camp and was also required to register as a sex offender.
Tragically, he was released two months early from the work program and subsequently moved into a Milwaukee apartment in May 1990. There, despite meeting regularly with his probation officer, he was free to commit four murders that year and eight more in 1991.
His last victim, Tracy Edwards, managed to flee Dahmer’s apartment after being lured in and threatened with a butchers knife. After running into the street and flagging down a police car, authorities searched the property and made a harrowing discovery. From pictures of dismembered bodies to skulls and a human heart and severed head in the freezer — Dahmer’s horrifying reign of terror was finally over.
Dahmer was indicted on 15 murder charges and taken to trial on January 30, 1992. He plead insanity as a legal defence but the court declared him sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder. He was sentenced to 15 life terms, which worked out to be 957 years in prison, later adding an another life sentence when he plead guilty to the murder of his first victim, Stephen Hicks.
The serial killer served his sentence at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. During his time there, he became religious and declared himself a born-again Christian. He was attacked twice by fellow inmates, with the first attempt only leaving superficial wounds.
The second attempt, however, would prove to be fatal, when he was attacked on November 1994 in the prison showers and died on the way to hospital from severe head trauma.
What happens in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story?
Netflix has just dropped a new show titled, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which stars Evan Peters as Dahmer. The story is largely told from the perspective of the victims and according to the official synopsis is : “centered around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.”
You can watch it here.