“It’s hard for me to believe that a human being could have done what I’ve done, but I know that I did it.”
On the morning of May 27, 1991, police officers Joseph T. Gabrish and John Balcerzak of the Milwaukee Police Department responded to an odd call.
Three women had called 911 from the corner of 25th and State, where they stood with a crying, disoriented Laotian boy who was naked and bleeding. When police arrived on the scene, the women were hysterical, telling them that the boy had been hurt and someone had to help him.
They were also, at that point, joined by a tall white man with blond hair and striking blue eyes. The man told officers that the Laotian boy was 19, and a lover of his. He said that the boy was just drunk, and so the officers led the two of them back to the man’s apartment, while the semi-lucid boy attempted to struggle.
When the women tried to object, pointing to the bleeding from the boy’s buttocks and his obvious intent to get away, the officers told them to “shut the hell up” and “butt out” of this “domestic” dispute. Despite these protests, the police then left the boy in the care of this man and drove off.
An audio recording of the officers talking to their dispatcher afterward revealed that they joked about the two “lovers” before heading back to the station. Two months later, authorities would discover that the boy they had turned over was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, and the man they had returned him to was Jeffrey Dahmer.
The 31-year old Dahmer would soon stand accused of murdering Sinthasomphone, as well as 16 other victims that he had drugged, killed, dismembered, and sometimes even eaten.
Had police run a background check on Dahmer, they might have discovered that he was a sex offender, on parole for molesting the older brother of the very boy that was returned to him. However, that act of molestation proved to be among Dahmer’s least revolting crimes.
Jeffrey Dahmer was born in 1960 to a middle-class family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From a young age, he became fascinated with all things related to death and even began collecting the carcasses of dead animals. His father would even note how his son was “oddly thrilled” by the sounds of clanking animal bones.
By the time Dahmer was in high school, his family had moved to Bath Township, a sleepy suburb of Akron, Ohio. There, Dahmer was an outcast who soon became an alcoholic, drinking heavily at school, often hiding beer and hard liquor in his army fatigue jacket.
To fit in, Dahmer would often pull practical jokes like pretending to have seizures. He would do this so frequently that pulling off a good practical joke became known around the school as “doing a Dahmer.”
During this time, Dahmer realized that he was gay, and as his sexuality blossomed, so too did his increasingly abnormal sexual fantasies. Dahmer began fantasizing about raping men that he saw, and became aroused by the idea of completely dominating and controlling another person.
As he grew less able to control his desires, his fantasies became reality. Three weeks after his high school graduation, Dahmer would commit his first murder.
By this time, his parents had divorced, forcing his father and brother to live at a nearby motel. And when his mother had an occasion to leave town, Dahmer would have full run of the house.
It was then that he picked up 18-year-old hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks, who was on his way to a rock concert in nearby Lockwood Corners. Dahmer convinced Hicks to join him at his house for some drinks before going to the show.
After hours of drinking and listening to music, Hicks attempted to leave, a move that enraged Dahmer. He then bludgeoned Hicks from behind with a 10-pound dumbbell and strangled him to death. He then stripped Hicks naked and masturbated on his lifeless corpse.
Afterward, Dahmer brought Hicks down to the crawl space of his house and began dissecting the body. Afterwards, Dahmer would go even further by removing the bones, smashing them to powder, and dissolving the flesh with acid.
After high school, Dahmer briefly attended Ohio State University but dropped out after one term due to his constant drinking. He then joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a combat medic for two years before being discharged for, again, his alcoholism. After being honorably discharged, he returned to his grandmother’s house in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It would later come to light that during his time in the military, Dahmer drugged and raped two other soldiers.
When Dahmer returned to civilian life, he continued carrying out sexual assaults, including masturbating in front of children and drugging and raping men at gay bathhouses. These kinds of crimes continued until one day in 1987 when he killed 25-year-old Steven Tuomi.
Dahmer met Tuomi at a bar and convinced the young man to go back to his hotel room with him. Dahmer claims that he had just intended to drug and rape the man, but awoke the next morning to find his hand bruised and Tuomi’s bloodied corpse underneath his bed.
This murder was the catalyst that sparked Dahmer’s true killing spree. He began to seek out young men at gay bars and lure them back to his grandmother’s house where he would drug, rape, and kill them.
He killed at least three victims during this time, during which he and was also arrested for the molestation of a 13-year-old boy. Due to that charge, Dahmer would serve eight months in a work camp.
Throughout this time, Dahmer was driven mad by a compulsion to kill. “It was an incessant and never-ending desire to be with someone at whatever cost,” he said. “Someone good looking, really nice looking. It just filled my thoughts all day long.”
It was during this time that he began to collect grotesque trophies from his victims. This practice began with the murder of a 24-year-old aspiring model, Anthony Sears.
Sears struck up a conversation with the seemingly innocent Dahmer at a gay bar. After going home with this stranger, Sears was drugged, raped, and eventually strangled. Dahmer would then preserve Spears’ head and genitals in jars filled with acetone.
After returning from jail in 1990, Dahmer moved into his own place in downtown Milwaukee and would bring the dismembered pieces of Sears with him.
Over the next two years, Dahmer would commit the bulk of his 17 murders. He would lure back young men, often offering them money to pose nude for him, before killing them. However, as the crimes continued, it wouldn’t be long before his routine would increase in its depravity.
After taking photos of the corpses and dissolving their flesh and bones, Dahmer would regularly keep the skulls of his victims as trophies. He also began experimenting with various techniques to preserve these trophies. He even once accidentally exploded the head of one of his victims, Edward Smith, when he tried to dry it out in the oven.
At this time, Dahmer also began to dabble in cannibalism and would keep body parts in the refrigerator so that he could occasionally feed on them.
He began drilling holes into the heads of his victims while they were drugged but still alive. He would then pour hydrochloric acid onto his victim’s brain, a technique that he hoped would put his victims in a permanent, unresistant, and submissive state.
He attempted this procedure with numerous victims, including Sinthasomphone which, along with being drugged, is why the boy was unable to communicate with the police.
Throughout all of this, Dahmer was still in contact with his parole officer, but the officer suspected nothing.
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer lured in his last victim, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards, who he offered to pay to let Dahmer take nude photos of him. Dahmer then handcuffed Edwards and threatened him with a knife, telling him to undress and let Dahmer take photos of him.
Dahmer continually told Edwards that he would cut out and eat his heart while placing his ear against Edwards’ chest and rocking back and forth.
Terrified, Edwards attempted to appease Dahmer, telling him that he was his friend and getting him to watch TV with him. When Dahmer was momentarily distracted, Edwards punched him in the face and ran out the door.
He flagged down a police car, and led them to the apartment. There, the officers discovered polaroid photos of dismembered corpses clearly taken in the very apartment that they were now standing in. “These are for real,” said the officer who uncovered the photos as he handed them to his partner.
As the police moved to grab Dahmer, he attempted to resist but was quickly detained.
A search of the apartment found four severed heads in the kitchen, and a total of seven skulls, many of them painted. Inside the fridge, they found numerous body parts as well as two human hearts.
Dahmer was brought into the station where he quickly admitted to all 17 of his murders. Likewise, at trial, he pled guilty to 15 of the charges and was given a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment plus 70 years. He would spend the next three years imprisoned at Wisconsin’s Columbia Correctional Institution, where he would be interviewed by the media multiple times.
During his time in prison, Dahmer would have constant thoughts of suicide — but he would never get the chance. On November 28, 1994, a fellow inmate and convicted murderer, Christopher Scarver, beat Dahmer to death with a metal bar in the prison bathroom.
According to Scarver, Dahmer neither fought back nor made a sound during the attack, but instead appeared to accept his fate. “If he’d have had a choice, he’d have let this happen to him,” Dahmer’s mother told the Milwaukee Sentinel soon afterward. “I always asked if he was safe, and he’d say, `It doesn’t matter, Mom. I don’t care if something happens to me.’”
“Now is everybody happy?” Dahmer’s mother added. “Now that he’s bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?”