Dahmer: The Backstory

Dahmer: The Backstory

Giuliana Carmosino

Dahmer before being put behind bars


Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, was an American serial killer and sex offender who committed around seventeen murders among men and boys of varying ages from 1978 to 1991. Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder,and a psychotic disorder. He was only convicted of fifteen out of sixteen of the murders that he had committed, and he was sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment on February 17, 1992, as well as being convicted of an Ohio murder later on in 1978. 

Jeffrey was born into the Dahmer family, to mother Joyce and father Lionel, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he was the first of two sons. His father was a Marquette University chemistry student and later became a research chemist, while his mother was a teletype machine instructor. Some sources reported that Dahmer was somewhat neglected in his childhood, and was deprived of attention as an infant. As Dahmer entered first grade, his fathers’ school took up much of his time, which left Jeffrey and his brother to be home with Joyce, who was a known  hypochondriac who also suffered from depression. Joyce spent most of her time weeping away in her bed, and on one occasion has been dated that she attempted suicide. Jeffrey later stated that he recalled many moments throughout his childhood where he witnessed his parents in very tense situations and recalling numerous arguments between them. Dahmer was documented to be a happy and energetic child until he underwent a double hernia surgery shortly before his fourth birthday. At a very early age, Dahmer had a fascination with dead animals, which could have begun after he witnessed his father full out animal bones from underneath their home. Dahmer’s father stated that Dahmer was “oddly thrilled” by the sound the bones made, and became preoccupied with animal bones, which he called his “fiddlesticks’ ‘. He occasionally searched beneath and around the family home for additional bones and explored the bodies of live animals to discover where their bones were located. At the 6th relocation of the Dahmer family, there was a small hut located on the land, in which Jeffrey used to collect large insects, as well as the body of smaller animals. Later on, during a turkey dinner, Jeffrey asked his father what would happen if bones were to be placed in bleach, which led to his father showing him how to safely bleach and preserve bones, which led to an obsession of his and was later seen used on many of his victims. Throughout his adolescence and teenage years, Dahmer was labeled as an outcast and class clown by fellow peers, while his teachers knew him as polite and highly intelligent. He was also known to have a drinking problem, starting somewhere around the age of 14; he was even documented and remembered to have been drunk during school. Dahmer later began to have thoughts and fantasies about men, mainly surrounding their chests and torsos. His first attempt at murder, was when he had a fantasy about rendering unconscious a male jogger that he found attractive. At one point, he was remembered hiding behind a bush with a baseball bat, waiting for the jogger. Dahmer admitted later that this was his first attempt to attack and make an individual submissive to him. Dahmer committed his first murder in 1978, three weeks after his graduation. On June 18, Dahmer picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks, who was almost 19. Dahmer lured the youth to his house on the pretext of drinking. Hicks, who had been hitchhiking to a rock concert at Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio, agreed to accompany Dahmer to his house upon the promise of “a few beers’ ‘ with Dahmer as he had the house to himself. After several hours of talking, drinking, and listening to music, Hicks “wanted to leave and I didn’t want him to leave.” Dahmer bludgeoned Hicks with a 10-pound dumbbell. He later stated he struck Hicks twice from behind with the dumbbell. Upon his fathers’ request, Dahmer enlisted in the United States Military, although later, his drinking caused him to be deemed unsuitable for military service in 1981. 

Dahmer had a crazy childhood, and adolescent years, which we can see above. He later began his murder rampage, which ended him up at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. He was later beaten to death on November 28, 1994, by Christopher Scarver, who was a fellow inmate.