Christopher Scarver: Who Is The Man Who Killed Jeffrey Dahmer?

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Christopher J. Scarver was awaiting trial in a Wisconsin jail, accused of shooting to death 27-year-old job trainer Steven Lohman in 1990 (per The New York Times), when news broke of the arrest of a 34-year-old Milwaukee man who police said had the remains of 11 men and boys in his apartment. That man, Jeffrey Dahmer, later confessed to killing a total of 17 men and boys in Ohio and Wisconsin, who he would sometimes mutilate and cannibalize, according to AP News.

Scarver came to know Dahmer much like the rest of America — via the news. But, unlike the rest of America, Scarver got a front row seat to the serial killer as a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution outside of Madison. Both of the men were serving life sentences. According to Scarver, he was at first indifferent to Dahmer and kept his distance (per New York Post) — until he couldn't. In 1994, Scarver beat Dahmer and another prisoner to death with a metal rod when they were together alone in the prison gym. Scarver said that Dahmer had antagonized him, leading to the attack, and on another occasion, Scarver said he didn't think Dahmer was fit to live, reports TMJ4 News. Whatever it was, Scarver won't be eligible for parole until 3077, per AP News. Read on to learn more about man who murdered one of America's most infamous serial killers.

He went to prison for killing a man in 1990

After dropping out of high school, Christopher Scarver began looking for opportunities at the Wisconsin Conservation Corps job training program in order to become a carpenter, according to the New York Times. But he didn't have a great experience, apparently. Scarver felt wronged and misled after being promised a job when he finished the program, but that job never came. He didn't take the situation too well and thought his firing was racially motivated. He then took to drinking. It appeared that the alcohol affected his sanity, since he began to hear voices, and he went back to the program site to commit a burglary. His boss, John Feyen, and another worker, Steven Lohman, were present. He demanded Feyen to give him money, and when Feyen resisted, Scarver shot Lohman in the head three times. He made off with $3,000 and Feyen's credit card. He shot at both the men again before fleeing.

Scarver received a life sentence and served at the Columbia Correctional Institution, where he would later meet Jeffrey Dahmer.

He was surprised at his own violence

Although Christopher Scarver took his firing at the Wisconsin Conservation Corps particularly hard — he started drinking and smoking marijuana to cope — he was surprised by his own murderous reaction, notes New York Times. In speaking to a court-appointed psychiatrist, he explained that he didn't have a prior criminal record. But there were major hints at a mental imbalance: He had been hearing voices in his head. When he was at the Columbia Correctional Institution, he was medicated for psychosis, but his mental disorder has continued to flummox him. He estimated somewhere between 10 and 20 doctors have analyzed him but can never give him a satisfying answer, per the New York Post.

Whatever's confused him evidently confused experts: Before his first trial, psychiatrists couldn't decide if he was mentally competent to stand trial, reports the New York Times. He ended up pleading not guilty due to mental disease. He made a similar plea for the murder of Dahmer, but he was deemed mentally competent for that trial, reports the Orlando Sentinel. In the end, Scarver chalked up his mental disorder to too much refined sugar consumption, via the New York Post. Diagnosing himself, he discovered that he suffers mental breaks after eating bread and similar food.

He heard voices in his head

Before Christopher Scarver committed his first murder, his head was overcome by mysterious voices, egging him on, reports the New York Times. An entire family of floating voices — the sounds of a father, mother, son, and daughter — reassured him that robbing his former boss and killing a man was his chosen path. But he also heard other things that hinted at a messianic delusion: The voices told him he was the son of God, and when it came to the murders of fellow inmates Jeffrey Dahmer and Jesse Anderson, Scarver said God had ordered him to commit the crimes, per Prison Legal News. (Conversely, Dahmer reportedly believed he was the devil, notes the Los Angeles Times).

Scarver repeated his belief in being the son of God during his trial for murders of Dahmer and Anderson, per AP News. It's unclear if this had an impact on his actual religious beliefs, but according to a written correspondence with a journalist in 2011, Scarver had been practicing Hinduism in prison (via TMJ4 News).

He heard about Jeffrey Dahmer in the news

Christopher Scarver and Jeffrey Dahmer came into the prison system around the same time. Scarver had already been in custody — his case had not yet gone to trial — when Dahmer was arrested and the news of his crimes garnered widespread public attention, notes the New York Times. There were plenty of opportunities for Scarver to hear about Dahmer. The same psychiatrist used in Dahmer's trial was then used at Scarver's, a point that was discussed at length in court.

Although he told the New York Post that he had neutral or indifferent feelings toward Dahmer as prison mates, Scarver seemed to have taken Dahmer's crimes more personally; Scarver carried around with him a newspaper clipping that described Dahmer's gruesome, cannibalistic crimes. He said he was absolutely repulsed by Dahmer's past. Right before he killed Dahmer in one of the prison's bathrooms, Scarver confronted Dahmer with the newspaper article and demanded to know if the allegations were true. Dahmer appeared taken aback, and it was at this moment that he knew he was in trouble and quickly tried to make an escape but failed. In other words, Scarver was well aware of who Dahmer was and what he had done to his 17 victims before he killed him.

He killed Dahmer in a prison bathroom

That fateful day began with bathroom duty. Prisoners Christopher Scarver, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Jesse Anderson were cleaning the bathrooms in the prison's gymnasium, but the prison guards didn't bother to cuff them, per The New York Post. That's one eye-brow raising fact, and here's another: The prisoners were left alone for 20 minutes, reports the New York Times. They were mopping the floors when something happened that likely triggered Scarver's ire — either Dahmer or Anderson suddenly poked him in the back, notes the New York Post. Shortly after, Scarver was able to corner Dahmer alone and attacked him with a metal bar, killing him near a locker room toilet.

According to Scarver, the corrections officers knew of his strong dislike of Dahmer. Leaving them alone would have been dangerous. The guards reportedly did not like Dahmer, either. Scarver said Dahmer had a kind of gallows humor that played on his propensity for cannibalism. He would play with his food in order to make it appear like human remains, using ketchup as blood. His actions disgusted other prison mates and guards, who Scarver said wouldn't have minded him dead. There's enough ingredients here to piece together a conspiracy, and even Scarver's son, Christopher Scarver, Jr., has wondered whether the guards set up his father and were themselves complicit in Dahmer's death (via CNN).

He also killed another prisoner at the same time

A name often forgotten in the course of Christopher Scarver's prison murder spree is Jesse Anderson. He was the other prisoner on the cleaning detail alongside Jeffrey Dahmer and Scarver, and he and Dahmer had been snickering behind Scarver's back, which might've led to their demise, reports the New York Post. Scarver had his eye on Anderson, who was white, after deeming him a racist. After someone had painted a portrait of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Anderson thought it would be amusing to paint a bullet wound on King's forehead, notes the New York Post. There was also the fact that Anderson tried to pin his wife's murder on two innocent African American men, which Scarver made note of it. In the end, Scarver bludgeoned Anderson with a metal rod, just as he did to Dahmer.

The last years of Anderson's life were starkly worse than his earlier years. As a rich businessman, he led a dramatically different lifestyle from both Dahmer and Scarver. He had been having dinner with his wife at a restaurant when he murdered his wife in the parking lot. He tried to accuse a man with a LA Clippers hat, but that proved a pivotal mistake. Someone had seen Anderson purchasing the hat, which led investigators to suspect Anderson.

Investigators considered racial animus as a possible motive

There's been speculation that Christopher Scarver's 1994 attacks on Jeffrey Dahmer and Jesse Anderson were racially motivated. After all, Scarver later told the New York Post in 2015 that Anderson was racist, and he murdered him after Anderson defaced a painting of Martin Luther King, Jr. But at the time, prison officials said there was no evidence this was the case, despite Scarver having said previously that he was a victim of racism and likened his sentence to a racial injustice, reports the New York Times.

When it comes to Dahmer, it gets a bit murkier. Scarver said he killed Dahmer because of his prison behavior, per the New York Post. However, issues of race have been at the center of Dahmer's own crimes. Of Dahmer's victims, 11 of them were African American, notes the Washington Post. Others were Indigenous, Asian, and Latino. The victims' families alleged that racism allowed Dahmer to continue his crimes, since police didn't prioritize the needs of their communities, reports AP News. Racism was at the forefront of the Dahmer trial coverage, and Scarver, who was informed on his crimes, likely knew.

He might not be a reliable source

Christopher Scarver claimed that Jeffrey Dahmer had a target on his back due to how he treated other prisoners. Dahmer would craft his food into appearing like human remains and place it where other prisoners would find it, likely to elicit a reaction. No one liked him, it seems, to the point where Dahmer needed a personal guard to accompany him out of his cell, per the New York Post. Even Dahmer's former prison pastor, Roy Ratcliff, seemed to confirm Dahmer's tendency to make light of his crimes with gross humor, per the New York Post. Dahmer teased nervous-looking guards with the warning that he could bite them at any moment. Ratcliff surmised that Dahmer's pranks were a coping mechanism for prison life.

But Dahmer's former lawyers threw cold water onto that narrative. Gerald Boyle and Steve Kohn investigated Dahmer's death and interviewed Scarver, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They said that Scarver hadn't told them about Dahmer's pranks. On the contrary, Dahmer was more timid than brash. Also, Scarver was likely more twisted than he let on in the New York Post interview. He didn't like Dahmer because the cannibal didn't reach his standards of being a murderer, not because he was repulsed by Dahmer's crimes. And as it turned out, Ratcliff's stories about Dahmer were second-hand; he was told of them by prison guards.

He maintained a relationship with his son

Before Christopher Scarver was arrested and sent to prison for the rest of his life, his girlfriend was pregnant, notes the New York Times. Christopher Scarver, Jr., was born while his father was already locked up and had to depend on his mother instead, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But he did grow up knowing the name "Jeffrey Dahmer" — a symbol of his father's long-lasting infamy, per CNN. He was 10 years old when he watched a TV program that informed him his father had murdered Dahmer. Although Scarver, Jr., resented his dad for missing out on his life, he did well for himself: He developed a love for basketball and set his sights on graduating from Bethany Lutheran College (via Bethany Vikings). He was a recipient of a scholarship from the Creative Corrections Education Foundation, which aims to prevent children of prisoners from following a similar path.

But Scarver, Jr., did end up reconnecting with his father. When he felt like he was on the brink of making the same mistakes, he reached out to Scarver for advice, reports CNN. This began a correspondence over letters, with Scarver encouraging his son to make the right decisions. This successfully patched up their relationship, and Scarver, Jr., later posted a photo of his father on his dorm room entrance as a tribute.

He's kept himself busy with writing

During his time behind bars, Christopher Scarver has published eight books, most of which are volumes of poetry. And most of his writing has been inspired by his life in prison. His work is available on Amazon, and the book with the most traction and reviews is the first in a series of poetic tomes, "The Child Left Behind: Poetry of Christopher J. Scarver." Published in 2015, the cover contains hand-drawn artwork. His most recent book, a work of nonfiction, was published in 2022. Scarver has also shown some range and dabbled with public policy. He wrote a policy proposal called The American Prisoner Repatriation Act (APRA), which demands that the American government repatriate prisoners to their ancestral homelands abroad if they request it.

In 2012, TMZ reported that Scarver and his representative were shopping a possible blockbuster book idea among major publishing players. If given a book deal, Scarver would divulge what Jeffrey Dahmer was like in prison and give an insight into his own life.

He sued his Wisconsin prison

In 2001, Christopher Scarver and other inmates at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility filed a class-action lawsuit, arguing that they were subjected to cruel and unusual living conditions. Scarver had been there in 1999 after murdering Jeffrey Dahmer and Jesse Anderson, but he was eventually moved to a prison in Colorado to meet his needs, according to The Telegraph-Herald.

In 2005, Scarver filed a civil rights lawsuit against that same prison, arguing that its conditions exacerbated his mental health deficiencies, according to Prison Legal News. Several years later, Scarver informed a journalist that he had been stuck in solitary confinement at the time (via TMJ4 News). They also kept the lights in his cell on all the time to prevent a suicide attempt and limited his possessions, reports Digital Spy. The court agreed that his prison conditions at the Wisconsin facility could have intensified his symptoms of mental illness, but ultimately granted them qualified immunity since Scarver was deemed particularly dangerous to himself and others, explains Prison Legal News.

He's never getting out of prison

Christopher Scarver will not be getting out of prison anytime soon — or ever. He's serving three life sentences, the last two for murdering Jeffrey Dahmer and Jesse Anderson in 1994, according to Seventeen. Scarver's currently housed at Colorado's Centennial Correctional Facility, a max security prison that allows for prisoners with severe mental illnesses, per the Colorado Department of Corrections. Prisoners belonging to the Intensive Treatment Community are allowed to work the prisons' food, laundry, physical plant, and library department. It's not clear if Scarver belongs to the ITC, the Residential Treatment Program, the close custody offenders, or the incentive offenders sector — especially since the prison has declined to name him within their custody, being a high-security inmate and all, reports TMJ4 News.

But if you ask Scarver, he might say his outlook has been better than in the past. According to his biographical information on Google Books, Scarver was no longer subjected to solitary confinement in 2015 due to good behavior.