The Truth Behind Jeffrey Dahmer's Death

Jeffrey Dahmer said of his first murder victim, "The guy wanted to leave and I didn't want him to leave." That guy was a 19-year-old hitchhiker named Steveh Hicks, per Biography. When he tried to leave, Dahmer strangled him with a barbell, dismembered his remains, and then broke his bones into more than 500 pieces with a sledgehammer. That occurred in 1978, a time when Dahmer's life was defined by absence. That year, his parents finalized their divorce. His mother and younger brother moved from their Ohio home to Wisconsin. His father also moved. Dahmer was broke. His refrigerator was broken. And something inside him had been broken for years.

Jeffrey Dahmer's childhood spiral

Jeffrey Dahmer had been drowning in darkness since childhood. Biography writes that age 4 he had an operation for a double hernia, after which he became increasingly unsociable. Dahmer's father claimed that his troubled son had been abused by a neighborhood boy at age eight, but Dahmer later insisted to law enforcement that he never suffered any sort of abuse. Was he hiding behind a veneer of normality, as Ted Bundy appeared to do when accounts about his mental illness and his traumatic childhood surfaced? One can only speculate, but much like Bundy, Dahmer was deeply lonely, socially isolated, and had an unhealthy preoccupation with death that began with animals.

As a boy Bundy enjoyed buying mice and deciding which to murder or spare, and as an adult he would murder people while choosing to let others go. Young Dahmer collected animal remains, decorating his clubhouse with pickle jars full of cat, dog, squirrel, groundhog, and chipmunk bones preserved in formaldehyde. He also collected taxidermied animals. And as the Associated Press points out, as an adult Dahmer boiled the skulls of some of his murder victims to preserve them and kept photographic records of how he destroyed their corpses.

Jeffery Dahmer: from predator to prey

Psychology Today writes that Dahmer disliked solitude but knew he had to be alone to act on his horrific impulses. He craved a slave that he could dominate. He would claim the lives of at least boys and 17 men, strangling them to death in what one might construe as an act of domination. Dahmer didn't just collect his victims' remains; he consumed parts of them, even freezing a man's heart to use as food, per the Associated Press.

Even when Dahmer confessed to the slayings in 1991, he exercised what some might see as a sadistic sort of control. Per Biography, after admitting guilt to authorities during questioning, he professed his innocence in court. He later changed his tune again, pleading guilty to only 15 murders but claiming insanity. Once he landed behind bars, his control evaporated. In 1994, inmate Christopher Scarver beat Dahmer and a second prisoner to death.