The Likely Reasons Jeffrey Dahmer Waited 10 Years Before Killing Again

Jeffrey Dahmer, who dismembered and cannibalized some of his victims, is one of the most notorious serial killers. He was withdrawn as a child and had a fascination with animal carcasses. Dahmer started having a compulsion to murder in his early teen years. He also realized that he was sexually attracted to boys, and that was when he started fantasizing about sexually dominating them, as reported by ATI.

It was just after his high school graduation when Dahmer killed his first victim — 18-year-old hitchhiker Steven Hicks, per Biography. In 1978, Dahmer picked up Hicks, who was a complete stranger to him. He came from the mall and was on his way home when he spotted the young man. At that time, Dahmer had the family home to himself, as his parents had just divorced. His father and brother moved out, while his mother sometimes had to go out of town, leaving Dahmer alone. It was during one of those times when Dahmer brought Hicks back to his home. Hicks was hitchhiking to a concert when Dahmer persuaded him to have drinks with him first. Dahmer then attacked the young man and strangled him to death before dismembering him and getting rid of the evidence. He had just killed his first victim, but it wasn't until 1987 when he would kill again.

Jeffrey Dahmer murders again

In 1987, Jeffrey Dahmer met 25-year-old Steven Tuomi at a bar, and they went home together. Tuomi was Dahmer's second murder victim, and that was the start of his murder spree. Per Newsweek, Dahmer told MSNBC that he did not intend to kill Tuomi. Upon waking to find his victim's dead body, he claimed that it "all started again." While this might sound like a bloodlust, Dahmer insisted that his motives for his actions were more complex. "Killing wasn't the objective," he told MSNBC. "I just wanted to have the person under my complete control to do with as I wanted."

At that time, it had almost been 10 years after he murdered Steven Hicks, but that doesn't mean that Dahmer didn't commit any crimes in between. According to ATI, in the years after his first murder, Dahmer had other offenses, including drugging and raping men and pleasuring himself in front of boys. After killing for a second time, he went on to murder 15 more boys and men between 1988 and 1991 (via Crime and Investigation). He pleaded guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to 16 life terms, but he died in 1994 at the hands of a fellow inmate, who attacked him with a metal bar.

Although it's difficult to say why exactly Jeffrey Dahmer waited so long to kill again after his first murder, there are a few theories that attempt to make sense of his decision.

He might have been exploring — or not had the right chances

According to A&E, experts say that the average age of serial killers is 29 years old, but Jeffrey Dahmer was only 18 when he committed his first murder. Criminal psychologist Eric Hickey told the outlet that Dahmer was likely still exploring at that time. "You don't see too many serial killers become serial killers as teenagers. Most of them are still exploring their sexuality, their paraphilia, and then they really start to act out more in their 20s and 30s," he stated. Elsewhere, serial killer expert Peter Vronsky said Dahmer's break between his first and second murder victims was a characteristic of serial killers. "Serial killers sometimes commit their first murder by accident or spontaneously on an impulse, without much planning or fantasizing about it beforehand," Vronsky said (via A&E TV).

Dahmer's first murder was definitely still on his mind. While in the U.S. military during the break between his first and second murders, he spoke about his first killing. Preston Davis, who Dahmer raped during this time, told The Wrap that Dahmer bragged about killing his first victim, Steven Hicks. "Jeffrey had killed his first victim a year before joining the military, and he would get drunk in the barracks and say, 'I killed the guy in Ohio,' and we'd say, 'you didn't kill nobody!'" Davis said.

Interestingly, Davis believes that Dahmer would have killed him if he had a proper escape route. "The reason he didn't kill me was that were out in the middle of Belgium and he had no idea how to get back to Germany," Davis told The Wrap. Dahmer was discharged from the military in 1981 due to his alcohol abuse — Davis said the killer "became a monster once he started drinking" — and resumed killing in 1987.