“His behavior didn’t change. The object changed.” This is what psychologist at George Washington University, David Silber, stated when asked about the relation between Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood activities and his unspeakable crimes later on in life that traumatized civilians and Milwaukee’s finest law enforcement. The name “Jeffrey Dahmer” conjures images of his numerous brutal murders. However, as his violence was believed to be spurred by his childhood experiences, his court case and his capture involved some of the best, and worst, work done by the American justice system.
As a young child, Jeffrey Dahmer had a considerably unusual childhood. In 1964, at the age of four, his father, Lionel Dahmer, noticed Jeffrey was developing an interest in the remains of small animals; while he was sweeping some out from underneath his house and placing them in a bucket, Jeff was thrilled by the sound they made (“Jeffrey Dahmer’s Childhood”). That same year, according to a “Twisted Minds” web page article, he underwent a double hernia operation, which left him vulnerable and scared for he did not understand what was going on. By age six, Jeff and his family moved to Doylestown, Ohio, where his younger brother, David, was born and, according to Radford University, his teachers began reporting him feeling neglected. Only two years later, his family moved to Bath Township, Ohio, where his father claimed he had been sexually abused by a neighborhood boy (“Dahmer’s Compulsions”). Such a traumatic experience as this most likely would follow him throughout the rest of his life. By age ten, his hobbies evolved into somewhat of an addiction. Jeff had begun collecting road kill, bleaching chicken bones, decapitating rodents, and even taught himself how to use acid to strip the meat of dead animals from their bones (“Childhood”).
During his teenage life, those around Jeff began to notice some distressing changes occurring within him. According to Radford University, Jeff discovered alcohol at thirteen, and, by the time he was sixteen, he was sneaking scotch into his morning classes. He most likely took to alcohol because he felt unaccepted, as his peers began viewing him as desperate and lonely. His parents, Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, constantly quarreled and, just like any other teenager, he took their arguments to heart (“Childhood”). In 1978, the same year Jeff graduated high school, his parents divorced and his mother gained custody of Jeff’s younger brother, David (“Dahmer’s Compulsion”). Former neighbor Susan Lehr spoke on his attitude and personality when these events were occurring, stating that, “something devastating [was] going on in his life and there wasn’t anybody there to help him,” (“Cannibal”). This could have possibly been what sparked him to become the monster that the public know him as today.
Jeff took his parents’ divorce extremely hard. According to Los Angeles Times, his mother and brother moved to Wisconsin while his father stayed at a motel, leaving him alone in his house, feeling abandoned and developing an intense fear of loneliness. While alone in his house, Jeff claimed his first victim, hitchhiker Steven Hicks (Newton 46). When asked about the incident thirteen years later, 31-year-old Dahmer told police that “[Hicks] wanted to leave and I didn’t want him to leave,” so, as a result, he killed him in order to keep him from doing so (“Cannibal”).
Jeffrey Dahmer first came to authority’s attention in October 1981 when he was placed under police custody for public intoxication and disorderly manner at a Ramada Inn (Yusof). According to Newton’s serial killer encyclopedia, he was also arrested in 1982 for indecent exposure at the Wisconsin State Fair and again in 1986 for similar charges (47). At this point, his attraction to young individuals was becoming more and more noticeable. On September 26th, 1988, Dahmer was charged for sexually assaulting a thirteen-year-old Laotian boy at his Milwaukee apartment...
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