This Is What Jeffrey Dahmer's Parents Really Thought Of Him

Among the most notorious serial killers in living memory, Jeffrey Dahmer's deeds shocked the world when everything came to light after his arrest in 1991. As Britannica reports, he was convicted of killing 17 males — murders he committed between the years of 1978 and his capture.

The unending trauma of the victims' families aside, how did Dahmer's own closest family try to process everything he did and was? Here's what Lionel and Joyce Dahmer have said on the matter since their son's arrest, imprisonment, and murder, as they too seek to comprehend it.

According to Biography, he was born in Milwaukee in May 1960. He was a bright and busy young boy, until an operation for a double hernia seemed to change something within him. He grew quieter and more isolated, and tensions between his parents (who were separating as he became a teenager and soon divorced) could have contributed.

In a 2004 interview with Larry King (per YouTube), his father Lionel was asked whether he noticed anything foreboding about the boy Dahmer. At around 12 years old, Lionel explained, Dahmer began collecting dead animals he found on the roadside. His parents knew nothing about this, but he stated, "If I had known about the roadkill ... I would have done something immediately. Intervened." Prior to the age of 12, he would have deemed him, in King's words, "a normal boy," though he added, "except extremely shy."

The torment of Jeffrey Dahmer's parents

"Don't disregard shyness. Things can be fermenting in that young mind. Dig." Lionel Dahmer's other comments from the Larry King interview were particularly telling. "I wasn't tuned to that ... in the '50s and '60s, especially with men, you weren't really taught to be a psychologist," he said, per a CNN transcript. The picture, then, is of a regretful father who was possibly preoccupied, not noticing the changes coming over his troubled son.

He gave the interview to try to help parents. Jeffrey's stepmother Shari, also in the King interview, expanded on that. "Anything that we could do to circumvent or prevent another Jeff would be a blessing," she said.

Shari explained that she met Jeffrey Dahmer when he was 18, and they shared a cordial if distant relationship. His birth mother, Joyce, died of breast cancer in 2000. According to IMDb, she had moved to California after the divorce, but made the flight to visit Dahmer several times.

As Vintage News Daily reports, Dahmer was beaten to death in prison by inmate Christopher Scarver in November 1994. Per All That's Interesting, a distraught Joyce demanded, "I always asked if he was safe ... now is everyone happy? Now that he's bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?"