How Jeffrey Dahmer Reacted To His Murders

At a primordial level, you could argue that in one capacity or another, the human race is hardwired to spill blood. It's the way things have always been and, as far as anyone can tell, the way things will be for all time to come. However, humans build societies. We write laws. We punish those who violate those laws. By and large, we're predisposed to establishing order and harmony among ourselves, so rampant killing and unhinged bloodshed don't really hold a sanctioned place in day-to-day life — unless you're a serial killer.

With the recent release of Netflix's "Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" (the trailer is on YouTube), the late serial killer who slew at least 17 different men between 1978 and 1991 has been back in the public spotlight. Biography reports that Dahmer's reign of terror was one of the worst murder cases in modern history, and though he lived the last days of his life in prison (Dahmer was killed by a fellow inmate in 1994), the haunting legacy of his crimes still stings the hearts of those who lost their friends and loved ones at his hands. All of these years later, people still can't help but ask those uncomfortable questions about Jeffrey Dahmer, questions that prod at what drove him to kill and how he felt after it was all finally over. 

The Dahmer murders

According to Biography, Jeffrey Dahmer took his first life in June of 1978 when he was only 17 years old. A hitchhiker named Steven Hicks accepted a ride from him and followed Dahmer back home. It was there that the young Dahmer struck Hicks with a dumbbell and strangled him to death on the floor of his living room. He then dismembered the body and scattered the bones in the woods surrounding the house. Nine years later, Dahmer would kill again. 

Between 1987 and 1991, Dahmer targeted mainly Asian and Black homosexual males in Milwaukee's impoverished neighborhoods. It was his custom to drug, strangle, sexually assault, and dismember his victims in a carefully plotted, meticulous fashion. According to The U.S. Sun, he went so far as to drill holes into some of their skulls and inject acid directly into their brains. It was a string of crimes that finally ended after Tracy Edwards escaped Dahmer's apartment on July 22, 1991 and flagged down a police vehicle. Edwards brought the officers back to the residence where he had narrowly escaped death, and it was there that they discovered several decaying corpses, Polaroid photos of lifeless bodies placed in distorted poses, and body parts preserved in jars. After a trial lasting several months, Dahmer was found guilty and ultimately sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences for his crimes. He remained incarcerated up until his death in 1994 (via Biography). 

Why did Dahmer kill?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are four different types of serial killers: visionary, power/control-oriented, mission-oriented, and hedonistic. Jeffrey Dahmer belonged to the latter category, meaning his crimes were compelled by a drive to achieve heightened levels of "lust, thrill, and comfort" (per This Interests Me). "It was an incessant and never-ending desire to be with someone at whatever cost. Someone good-looking, really nice looking. It just filled my thoughts all day long," the killer told Nancy Glass of "Inside Edition" in a 1993 interview.

The killing in and of itself, Dahmer explained, was really just a "means to an end," and his ultimate goal was to induce his victims into a "zombie-like" state and subdue them into a perpetual state of total submission. The U.S. Sun reports that sexual compulsions inspired Damher's behavior, though his methods never produced the effect he so desired, given that all of his victims perished during his grisly experiments. 

How did Dahmer feel about his murders?

"This was a case to tell the world that I did what I did not for reasons of hate — I hated no one. I knew I was sick or evil or both. Now I believe I was sick," Dahmer stated before the court prior to his incarceration. "If I could give my life to bring their loved ones back, I would do it. I am so very sorry" (via Insider). By all observable standards, Dahmer expressed deep and unwavering remorse for his victims and their families. He admitted to being driven by something wildly out of his control and regretted not seeking the help that could have potentially saved many lives. Tragically, his admission of sincere guilt came too late.

The hellacious legacy of Jeffrey Dahmer's crimes continues to baffle experts and shock bystanders. While his guilt seemed explicitly clear and his admission of sickness an honest one, one can't help but wonder where such foreboding internal reflections were hiding when Dahmer was carrying out his murders.