Jeffrey Dahmer's Repulsive Interactions With Road Kill As A Child

The carnage uncovered by investigators after Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in July 1991 made the world squirm with each morbid and bizarre discovery. The FBI revealed the gruesome details in a comprehensive report, giving a full inventory of the human remains that Dahmer had stashed in various places throughout his apartment. Among the saws, drills, hypodermic needles, and other tools the killer used in his attempt to make a "sex zombie," police found assorted human body parts decaying inside a sealed drum in his bedroom, sets of hands, male genitalia, a bag full of harvested organs, two hearts, a severed head in the refrigerator, and a collection of skulls. In the 18 or so months that Dahmer occupied apartment 213, he had killed a dozen young men and boys, luring them back from gay bars or the streets before drugging and murdering them (via Newsweek).

Dahmer plead guilty to multiple charges of first-degree murder and was found sane by a jury in a February 1992 trial. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences, dooming him to live the rest of his days behind the confines of prison bars.

The grotesque collections found in Dahmer's home were the culmination of an obsession Dahmer had been manifesting since early in his childhood. Those who knew him growing up would recall years later that the boy who would grow up to be the Milwaukee Cannibal kept some interests and hobbies that might have signaled a red flag.

Dahmer learned to strip animals of their flesh from his chemist father

Most kids have hobbies growing up, and youth in the 1960s and '70s weren't an exception. Long before the advent of home video game systems, the internet, and other modern marvels that entertain adolescents today, younger Baby Boomers and Gen X kids often found themselves active in the outdoors during their spare time. Whether it was riding bikes with friends, playing pick-up games of football and basketball, or simply having hangs on a friend's lawn, the youth of those generations had plenty of things to keep them from the confines of their parents' homes. 

The hobbies Dahmer engaged in were much more intense than shooting hoops or trading baseball cards with the neighbor kids. As a child, Dahmer began to develop an interest in dead animals, beginning when he and his father found a dead rodent under their house. According to Carl Wahlstrom, the forensic psychiatrist who examined Dahmer in prison, the intentions were coming from a pure place. Dahmer's father was a research chemist and wanted to show his young son how chemicals can work to eat away at a body's flesh and connective tissues to leave bare bones (via A&E).

The bones that the two collected over time were placed into a metal pail, where a young Dahmer would play with them. His family affectionately referred to them as his "fiddlesticks," a container of morbid playthings that would keep him occupied, like a rattle.

Dahmer's childhood hobby aided him as a ruthless killer

Dahmer's fascination with animal bones didn't end with the rodents he and his father found under the house. Dahmer began collecting road kill, bringing the carcasses back to the family home, where he would either use chemicals to produce bare bones or would attempt to preserve them in jars of formaldehyde (per Independent).

Years later, Dahmer would use these skills to take trophies from his victims. In 1989, Dahmer lured 24-year-old Anthony Sears back to the home Dahmer shared with his grandmother. There Dahmer drugged and strangled the man to death. Dahmer removed Sears' head and genitals, keeping them in a locked box (via Biography).

When Dahmer moved into his own place, his killings escalated in frequency. Needing a way to dispose of the bodies of his numerous victims, Dahmer employed the skills he had learned as a child in reducing human bodies to bones via caustic chemicals. Had Dahmer only killed sporadically, he might never have been caught. Perhaps the smells from the multiple corpses he had in various stages of decay, awaiting his method of disposal, might not have attracted the attention of the police officers who knocked on his door after his last victim was able to escape.