The Jeffrey Dahmer Victims Memorial That Never Happened

The following article includes discussions of murder and criminal behavior. 

History is full of people that cultures and across the world strive to remember because of their contributions to society. On the flip side, there are also many people who are infamous, but for reasons that we would honestly rather forget. One of those who falls into that category is serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who stole the lives of numerous victims in the latter part of the 20th century (per Biography).

Despite the fact murder is considered one of the worst crimes a person can commit, modern society has developed a slightly morbid obsession with serial killers like Dahmer. Over the years there have been multiple documentaries and even televised interviews with the killer himself. The media has reported on these tragic deaths and the man behind them in various ways. Most recently there has been a renewal in interest with Dahmer's crimes with the release of a new docuseries on Netflix, and new questions and concerns have arisen.

Who Was Jeffrey Dahmer?

According to Biography, Jeffrey Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was said to be a lively and active child until he had hernia surgery when he was 4 years old. As he grew older he became more withdrawn and isolated, and by the time he was a teenager, he was basically friendless and alone. It was also reportedly during this time that he began to develop his fascination with murder.

Dahmer was just 18 years old when he killed his first victim in 1978. As far as is known, he did not murder again until almost a decade later, and continued his crimes until 1991. In total Dahmer is believed to have had 17 victims, with some of their remains being discovered in his refrigerator in his apartment. Dahmer's victims ranged in age from 14 to 32 and were mostly young, gay men of color (per All That's Interesting).  There is speculation among some of the victims' families that Dahmer got a way with his crimes for as long as he did specifically because of the demographic which he targeted; poor, gay minorities. Some also look back on Dahmer's case as a bleak lesson on the homophobia and racism that existed in Milwaukee's communities and within the police force itself (per Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Dahmer was arrested on July 22, 1991. He went on trial the following year. Dahmer was convicted and given 16 consecutive life sentences. He was serving out his sentence when he was killed by a fellow inmate on November 28, 1994.

Controversy over a memorial

In September of 2022, Netflix released a new docuseries focused Jeffrey Dahmer titled "Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story." (The trailer is on YouTube.) The series has been a hit for the streaming service, bringing in millions of views, per Deadline. Despite the initial success, the 10-part series has also come under fire for its portrayal of many people involved in the case including Dahmer himself.

Another issue that has arisen is that of a memorial to Jeffrey Dahmer's victims. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there was a movement in the 1990s to create a memorial in Milwaukee, to honor those who died at Dahmer's hand, but the idea was highly controversial. There are those who view the choice to not establish a permanent memorial as a way for the city to ignore the senseless and cruel murders of colored members of the LGBTQ community. However there were also many who had concerns that it would end up attracting people with negative intentions, which was not something the city wanted. With the revival of interest in the Dahmer case, the calls for a physical memorial to the victims has been renewed as well. The current mayor's office still has the same concerns as it did decades ago, and therefore the controversy still stands.