It was July 22, 1991. Two cops named Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller were driving around close to the end of their shift. It had been a quiet day so far, but things were about to get strange, very, very strange. It was around 11.30 pm, with only another 30 minutes left until they could clock off when suddenly a half-naked man ran out into the street. His face was the picture of intense fear as he waved them down. Attached to his left wrist was a pair of handcuffs.
Their first thought was that this was some kind of “freak” who was out of his mind on drugs or alcohol, but that was far from being the case. They tried to calm him down and also attempted to remove the handcuffs with their own set of keys.
The guy told them in tremulous tones that some crazed man had just kept him as a prisoner in an apartment. The cops didn’t think much of it at the time but followed the guy to 924 North 25th Street. They were hoping things could soon be resolved and so wouldn’t have paperwork to do. What they didn’t know is that they were about to meet one of the criminals of the century.
When they got to apartment 213 they did actually become suspicious.
This building was known for being a low-rent type of place, so why did this apartment have expensive double locks and a modern alarm system? As they pounded on the door, they also agreed that there was a smell of decaying flesh in the air.
A man appeared at the door. He said his name was Jeffrey Dahmer, and to prove it, he showed them his ID card for the place where he worked, which was the Ambrosia Chocolate factory. He was a bit scruffily dressed, but he was polite and well-spoken, informing the cops that his job was a mixer.
The man didn’t appear to be dangerous, far from it, but when they got into his room that smell of rotting flesh became overwhelming. It seemed as though someone had tried to hide the smell by spraying large amounts of body deodorant, but the place still smelled pretty awful.
They looked around the apartment. It was in pretty good shape, decorated with colorful plants, with an electric-blue aquarium standing as the centerpiece in the living room, alongside several erotic posters. Mounted to the wall was a surveillance camera, which was certainly out of the ordinary. Looking further, the cops noticed quite a large quantity of beer cans in the kitchen. Also in the kitchen were boxes of chemicals.
Things were starting to look a bit weird, so they asked Jeffrey Dahmer why he’d handcuffed the victim. In a very calm voice, he said he did that kind of thing all the time. It was just a game he liked to play with guys he’d picked up.
The cops kind of looked as though they didn’t want to talk too much about this, intermittently looking at the gay erotica posters and jumping to too many conclusions. When they started to look just a little too unconcerned the victim told them Jeffrey Dahmer had threatened to “eat his heart.”
You’d think this would have pricked up their ears, but according to what was later said in evidence, they rolled their eyes giving off the impression that they were dealing with some kind of “gay drama” and this was just an argument between lovers that had gotten out of hand.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Mueller told Jeffrey Dahmer to hand him the key to the handcuffs, to which Jeffrey Dahmer told him it was in the bedroom on the table next to the bed. Mueller headed to the bedroom and Jeffrey Dahmer tried to stop him, saying he’d get the key. Rauth then pulled Jeffrey Dahmer back, now thinking something was not right here.
When Mueller entered the room he was taken aback by what looked like a large chemical drum standing next to the wall. The light was dim and a TV was switched on, which gave the place a spooky kind of look. Mueller then noticed blood on the bedsheets. The walls also looked like they’d once had bloodstains on them, and someone had unsuccessfully tried to clean them off.
On his way to the bedside table, he noticed a drawer was open and there were Polaroid photos inside. He picked them up, and what he saw were some of the most shocking crimes in US history. In fact, at first, he told himself this can’t be real. He thumbed through them hoping it was some kind of art project, or possibly stills from a movie.
He saw bodies that had been dismembered. He saw body parts and severed heads. One of the photos showed a head that had been sprayed with gold paint, and it was being held by two severed hands. There were photos of dead men, handcuffed, with bits of them missing. Another image showed a gutted and skinned body in a bathtub. Worse, he realized that these photos had been taken in the apartment he was in.
When he walked out of that bedroom he was almost shaking. Rauth could see something was up, and so could Jeffrey Dahmer. He tried to get away but was soon held down and handcuffed. On further investigation of the apartment, they discovered the grizzly truth behind that horrible smell. This wasn’t just a murder case. This was something you couldn’t even make up.
Rauth looked in the fridge. There he saw a bottle of mustard, some relish, some honey, and then when he looked in a box, he saw a human face looking back at him. He also looked in some pans on the stove. It seemed as though Jeffrey Dahmer had been doing some cooking, but with human meat. In the freezer, there were fillets of flesh. It was then that Jeffrey Dahmer shouted, “For what I did I should be dead.”
Let’s just say that the two cops didn’t get to go home at 12 and they faced a fair bit of paperwork.
Police found many more horrors in that apartment, but we won’t go into them all. Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes were so obscene they were barely believable. In short, he’d lured men into his apartment. He’d done unimaginable things to their bodies. He’d eaten parts of them and it would become known that he even tried to make zombies out of some victims. There were 17 victims in all.
You all know the story, but you don’t know what was going on inside the mind of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Let us now go back in time to see how Jeffrey Dahmer’s mind of his ticked.
Most serial killers, or even the majority of them, suffered major traumas during childhood, often along with serious head injuries. It’s sometimes been said that Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the more unique killers in that he came from what looked like a very normal household.
But it really wasn’t all that normal, with Jeffrey Dahmer later telling investigators that while his parents were educated and the family had money, they were hardly ever not at each other’s throats. According to Vronsky’s book, “American Serial Killers, The Epidemic Years”, the family certainly was professional in terms of work. Jeffrey Dahmer’s father was a research chemist, and his mother was a teletype machine instructor.
But then she got pregnant, and after Jeffrey Dahmer was born she seemed to suffer a very severe form of postnatal depression. She became so anxious, so depressed, that she would stay in bed for days.
According to her husband, Lionel, “Her legs would lock tightly in place, and her whole body would begin to tremble. Her jaw would jerk and take on a similarly frightening rigidity…her eyes would bulge like a frightened animal, and she would begin to salivate. Literally frothing at the mouth.”
But get this, Lionel admitted that when he was a kid he also had fantasies about murder, saying that he could understand the origins of his son’s perverse behavior. His mother was sick, very sick, and his father it seems was a little on the unique/dark side. The two never got along, with Jeffrey Dahmer growing up watching them fight and on one occasion his mother taking a knife to his father.
It got so bad that Dahmer’s teachers got involved, saying that this kid is being neglected at home. This is the same kid that will years later tell police that he hated sleeping alone, that he couldn’t be alone at any cost, and that’s why he kept the bodies around him. That’s why he ate parts of them.
His peculiarities started in childhood.
First with him finding roadkill and dissecting it, but at the age of around 16, he started thinking about doing that to humans. This was not a happy child. He already drank pretty much all day, even at school, where he was seen as quite the oddball.
He would just start bleating like a sheep in class, or sometimes to the disgust of his fellow pupils, eat his own snot. This was all to get a laugh out of them, but it wasn’t healthy in terms of his mental health. He was in so much need of attention that he would purposefully humiliate himself, with one of his more well-known tricks being his fake body spasms.
Between his school friends, this was known as “doing a Dahmer.” But he also had his funny moments which got him some kudos from others.
One time he phoned the White House and convinced the receptionist that he was a person who should be listened to. He didn’t quite get President Jimmy Carter on the phone, but he got the next best thing, Vice President Walter Mondale. He then managed to get Mondale to give him and his classmates a tour of the White House.
By the time he finished high school, he’d been picked up by the cops on a few occasions.
It was usually for public drunkenness, although at least once for indecent exposure. He was a troubled boy, but no one really saw just how troubled.
After high school, he became pretty much alone because he hadn’t really ever made any close friends. Alone, and with his parents now divorced, Jeffrey Dahmer was preparing himself for something far worse than any prank.
He picked up an 18-year old hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks, who was on his way to a rock concert. Jeffrey Dahmer, who at this age was aware he was homosexual, said he was attracted to the guy, especially as Hicks was walking barechested.
Jeffrey Dahmer later told police this, “I had been having, for a couple of years before that, fantasies of meeting a good-looking hitchhiker, and, sexually enjoying him…I asked him if he wanted to go back and smoke some pot, and he said, Oh yeah’.”
They went back and smoked and drank some beers. Jeffrey Dahmer said he hadn’t actually planned to kill him, but since he was attracted to him and from the conversation he knew the guy wasn’t gay, he wondered how he might get him to stay with him. Remember that abandonment was Jeffrey Dahmer’s biggest fear.
In his own words, he said, “I didn’t know how else to keep him there other than to get the barbell and to hit him over the head, which I did, then strangled him with the same barbell.”
In an interview between Jeffrey Dahmer and the man said to have invented serial killer profiling, Robert Ressler, he explained how he felt after that first murder. He said, “I was frightened at what I had done.” He told Ressler that the sight of the body aroused him sexually. Not only that, when he dissected the body and bagged bits of it, this aroused him to the point of orgasm.
What’s shocking is that Jeffrey Dahmer could have easily been arrested after this first crime.
When he was driving down the road with the body in several bags, the cops pulled him over. They shined a light in the back of the car and ask him what all the bags were for. He told them it was just garbage. He later told Ressler, “They believed it, even though there’s a smell.”
He admitted that he felt incredibly nervous during this traffic stop. Still, this was a man, a young man, that seemed to go from being hesitant to kill to being seemingly fine chopping up a dead body. He took the bags back home after the stop and took off the head for the purpose of more arousal.
He later tried university, but his boozing got the better of him. He then tried the army, and again due to his heavy drinking, that didn’t work out. He returned to Ohio after, and while he dug up the remains of Hicks and smashed his bones to ashes, he wouldn’t go near another dead body for years.
What exactly made him kill again?
There’s no easy answer, but it seems Jeffrey Dahmer did try and suppress the urge to kill. He would sometimes drug people he met and not kill them, but those people would always leave at some point. He even tried to inject chemicals into the brains of people he’d drugged because he wanted a kind of zombie-like presence next to him that wouldn’t complain, wouldn’t leave, and wouldn’t rot.
These Frankenstein experiments of course didn’t work and should have led to his arrest after one guy woke up and escaped in a haze. The cops actually helped bring him back to Jeffrey Dahmer’s place where he was subsequently murdered.
If you want to understand more about how this maniac thought, you need to know what movie was cued in his VCR player when his last victim, the survivor, arrived at his apartment. It was The Exorcist III, a film that Jeffrey Dahmer played for many of his ‘guests’.
While the movie was playing Jeffrey Dahmer would chant things under his breath and at some points look as though he was in a kind of trance. When the cops arrested him, they asked him about the movie and why he liked it so much. This is what the police report said:
“He felt evil and thoroughly corrupted, body and soul, because of the horrible crimes he had committed against people. Every time he would try to overcome his feelings of wanting to kill and dismember people, they would haunt him and overcome him, almost like an addiction.”
It was that addiction, that craving, that made him think he must be possessed by the devil. The police report said, “Because of that he watched The Exorcist III, almost on a weekly basis.”
He told cops he could relate to the devil because he believed that his own life on this Earth was condemned. He could relate to any character that was possessed and full of evil thoughts. The police wrote, “He felt that his life was driven by evil.”
It gets even weirder when you hear what that survivor said in court.
He said when Jeffrey Dahmer was on top of him and told him he was going to eat his heart, he saw his face transform into what looked like the devil. Thankfully, the victim managed to later punch Jeffrey Dahmer in the face, make a run for it and find those passing cops.
Jeffrey Dahmer confessed to his crimes and could almost explain in detail each murder, where it happened, and what he had done to the body. He told police that his family life hadn’t been bad in terms of him being abused, but he said his mother’s mental illness had played a part in his downfall. He was told as a kid that she became that way after she had him, so his immature brain took that to mean it was his fault she spent days in bed and had vicious seizures.
He said it was at around the age of 17 that he started having issues with abandonment, which was the same time he started having murder fantasies. Dissecting animals was one thing, but what he really wanted was to do it to a human. He said it was only because he could satisfy his urges with animals that he hadn’t killed earlier.
Even after he left the army and went to live with his grandmother, the urges to kill were always there. It just took him a few years to go through with the act. He went to church with his grandmother, saying he tried so hard to walk the “straight and narrow” but all the time he was just thinking about dominating someone and keeping them.
It seems that for about nine years, he killed no one.
He went to church and he helped his grandmother. It was all façade, though, part of him just couldn’t be suppressed. He was arrested for exposing himself to strangers in 1986 and ordered to have a psychiatric evaluation.
It seems the doctor was aware of what Jeffrey Dahmer might become, writing that he was a “sociopath” and if he doesn’t get help his “deviant behavior will continue” if not get worse. He wrote that without treatment, his substance abuse would get worse and so would his “sadistic tendencies.” In another report he said Jeffrey Dahmer had Schizoid Personality Disorder, adding, “He is definitely SPOOKY!”
One year later, Jeffrey Dahmer killed his second victim.
He stored the body in his grandmother’s cellar, keeping it there while people came over for Thanksgiving. It was after this second murder that he learned how boiling heads in certain substances made everything go “mushy” and this was one way to dispose of people bit by bit.
Believe it or not, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested again but his worst crimes were still not known. He’d drugged a young man and the guy ended up in hospital. After that, a psychiatrist wrote that Jeffrey Dahmer was a “very psychologically problemed man.”
He said Jeffrey Dahmer was in urgent need of long-term psychological treatment. Another expert said Dahmer’s behavior pointed to something very serious, and that he was “seriously disturbed, impulsive and dangerous.”
These warnings it seems went unheeded.
Jeffrey Dahmer killed again and again and did things beyond any normal person’s understanding. When he met Anthony Sears he said he fell in love and never wanted Sears to leave. It was Easter Monday when he drugged and strangled him.
After Jeffrey Dahmer ate breakfast with his grandmother and waved her off to church, he returned to be with the body. After some time hugging and kissing the victim, he drained, flayed, and dismembered him. But because he liked this one, he wanted to keep some parts. Jeffrey Dahmer later said, “Him, I liked especially well.”
So, he did what anyone would have done and called up Ace Hardware Store. He asked what the best way was to preserve flesh and bone, obviously pretending this was for taxidermy purposes. He was then given a set of instructions and what he needed to buy. Jeffrey Dahmer later told a psych doctor, “If I could have kept him longer, all of him, I would have.”
He met another guy that he later said he liked a lot.
This is what the police report said, “He indicated that he had eaten the thigh muscle of this subject, but it was so tough he could hardly chew it. He then purchased a meat tenderizer and used it on the bicep. He stated that it tasted like beef or a fillet mignon.”
When asked by police why he only ate certain people, Jeffrey Dahmer told them that he only did it to the people he was really fond of. He said he usually kept parts of the arm or leg, but he also had a heart he was planning to eat.
The police report said he would fry the meat lightly after it had been tenderized. He never ate it plain, but sprinkled the fillet with salt and pepper and dipped it in A-1 steak sauce. He said it wasn’t about the taste, or filling his belly, but to keep them with him longer.
The cops asked him why he hadn’t told them at first about the details of his cannibalism. They wrote: “He stated that he did not want to talk about it, because it was not very appealing, and he did not want us to think less about him.”
Featured image: Mug shot of Jeffrey Dahmer taken on July 23, 1991, by the Milwaukee Police Department, Fair Use via Wikimedia Commons