Known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 males (both men and boys) between 1978 and 1991 (via Biography). His first murder occurred briefly after Dahmer graduated from high school. However, his killings escalated in the two years before he was caught in his Milwaukee apartment. Nonetheless, what sets Dahmer apart from other serial killers are his monstrous rituals before and after each murder.
According to All That’s Interesting, Dahmer would lure young men from gay bars and proceed to drug, assault, and kill them. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, he would often dismember them and preserve pieces of them in jars.
Likewise, as Dahmer’s killing spree deepened, he would take Polaroids of the corpses and dissolve the flesh and bones. He would keep the skulls as trophies, and he began to experiment to try to preserve some of the body parts. This is also when Dahmer began to eat some victims, as well as drill into their skulls while they were still alive, in an attempt to create a zombie-like state.
Per History, Dahmer was finally caught when one of his would-be victims, Tracy Edwards, escaped. Edwards, who was in handcuffs, ran out into the street and flagged down nearby police officers. The police and Edwards returned to Dahmer’s apartment to investigate. There, they found Polaroids of dismembered bodies that were quite obviously taken in the same apartment they were standing in, and Dahmer was arrested.
Jeffrey Dahmer was almost caught twice
In 1989, an encounter with a 13-year-old boy resulted in molestation charges for Jeffrey Dahmer (via Biography). He pleaded guilty and talked his way through the trial, saying that the event had led him to change his life. This, most likely, was a lie.
While he was awaiting sentencing for the case, Dahmer murdered another young man, Anthony Sears. In the abuse case, Dahmer was eventually sentenced to one year in prison with day release. Thus, he could work during the day and return to prison at night. After 10 months, the judge granted him early release.
His second close encounter with authorities happened two months before he was caught, in May 1991 (per All That’s Interesting). One of Dahmer’s neighbors called police to report a naked boy running through the streets. Police arrived on the scene, but Dahmer approached them and charmed his way out of the situation. He said that there was a misunderstanding and that the boy was 19 and his lover.
The police, not wanting to get involved in a domestic dispute, bought the story even as Dahmer’s neighbor objected. They let Dahmer and the boy (who was actually 14) go. According to History, once they left, Dahmer proceeded to kill him. In a macabre twist, he was actually the younger brother of the boy Dahmer had previously molested.
Most of Dahmer’s victims were predominantly Black or minorities (via University of Minnesota). He was able to prey on victims that had already been marginalized by society. No one suspected a thing, or they let him go without an ounce of hesitation.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit theRape, Abuse & Incest National Network websiteor contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Jeffrey Dahmer portrayed himself as an average man
In his apartment of horrors, police found numerous body parts throughout his kitchen and fridge (via All That’s Interesting). In addition, they discovered a 57-gallon drum that had body parts dissolving in acid. Per Biography, jars containing organs and preserved skulls were also found. The Milwaukee County medical examiner later said that going through the apartment felt like going through a museum.
Per History, Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighbors had complained of a foul smell emanating from his apartment. However, he explained it away and said that it was due to expired meat. Everyone, including those who knew Dahmer, were beyond shocked by what was discovered in his apartment.
By all accounts, his neighbors believed him to be an average and unassuming man (per Salon). He was polite, handsome, and didn’t attract any attention to himself. So much so, that his neighbor Pamela Bass believed he had been a victim of a crime when she saw police outside his apartment.
According to Bass, she befriended Dahmer because he seemed lonely and shy. As they were on friendly terms, he sometimes made her sandwiches, per the Daily Mail. Bass believes she might have unknowingly consumed human flesh, and thinks about it every day.
Dahmer was convicted of his crimes and given 15 life sentences plus 70 years. In 1994, the serial killer was murdered in prison by another inmate, Christopher Scarver. He said he was disturbed by Milwaukee Cannibal’s crimes and that he antagonized other inmates.
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