Why Families Of Jeffrey Dahmer's Victims Brought Lawsuits Against His Father Lionel

After Jeffrey Dahmer's July 1991 arrest, the world was given a window into the life of one of America's most vicious predators. After his last potential victim escaped and led police back to his apartment, the secrets Dahmer had been hiding were finally exposed. Since moving to 924 North 25th Street, Dahmer murdered and dismembered 12 young men and boys, keeping their body parts as trophies and cannibalizing some of their remains. Having killed five before his 1990 move into apartment 213, his death toll was a staggering 17 when he was apprehended.

The alleged missteps by police and the horrific brutality of the crimes Dahmer committed caused a flurry of lawsuits to be filed by the families of Jeffrey Dahmer's many victims. In 1992, a judge awarded families a $70 million judgment against the Milwaukee Cannibal, though they were only able to recover a tiny portion of that amount (per UPI). When Dahmer's possessions were later sold to a group of Milwaukee businessmen (who destroyed them to avoid exploitation), it netted a little over $32,000 apiece for the victims' families (via the Associated Press).

A lawsuit filed against the City of Milwaukee by the family of 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone alleged that the police were negligent after being called to investigate the youth found naked and disoriented outside the apartment. Against the protestations of the neighbors, he was returned to Dahmer's apartment where he was later killed. The Associated Press reports that this suit was dismissed by a judge in 1993.

Though not having any prior knowledge of his son's crimes, Lionel Dahmer was also sued by family members of the victims.

Lionel Dahmer has been sued by several victims' families

In 1992, the family of Dahmer's first victim, Steven Hicks, filed a wrongful death suit against Dahmer, his mother Joyce Flint, and his father and stepmother Lionel and Shari Dahmer (via the Associated Press). The suit alleged that Dahmer's family should have been aware that their son/stepson "was deviant and destined to cause injury and death to others," per the news outlet. Hicks' family was seeking a $50 million payout.

According to The Daily Kent Stater, the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The amount that was awarded to them was not disclosed.

In 1994, Lionel Dahmer was named the defendant in a different lawsuit. This time, it was from the families of Dahmer victims Richard Guerrero and David Thomas. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Lionel published a book that year about his journey as the father of a boy who grew to be one of the 20th century's most notorious killers. The plaintiffs in the suit alleged that Lionel violated Wisconsin law by violating their right to privacy. Any artist or writer must secure written permission from families if they are using either the victims' names or their likenesses. As Lionel failed to do so, a suit was filed seeking damages. The outcome of that suit, or whether it was ultimately dismissed, is not clear.

The subject of several suits against him, Lionel Dahmer is reported to have been considering filing a suit of his own.

Lionel Dahmer is considering suing Netflix

The 2022 release of "Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" was a magnificent success for Netflix, quickly amassing views that made it land in the No. 2 spot for overall views on the service, second to only "Stranger Things." Though a popular series, the streaming giant has been met with some criticisms about the show's production. Some family members of victims have voiced concerns that they weren't considered at all when the show was being made, while others have deemed the series exploitative (per The Los Angeles Times).

The New York Post reports that Lionel Dahmer is considering suing Netflix. Though the media outlet reports that he has not spoken publicly since the release of the series, that he has been a "nervous wreck," largely in response to Dahmer "fans" and curiosity seekers finding his address and gathering in front of his property. The 86-year-old's caregiver, who used the pseudonym "Jeb," stated, "Lionel and his power of attorney are gathering information and looking at a possible lawsuit against the production team or possibly Netflix," adding, "There was zero care whatsoever about Lionel's wellbeing."

To date, no lawsuit has been filed by Lionel.