Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born in Milwaukee on May 21, 1960, to Lionel and Joyce Dahmer. He was a child who was wanted and adored, in spite of the difficulties of Joyce's pregnancy. He was a normal, healthy child whose birth was the occasion of great joy. As a tot, he was a happy, bubbly youngster who loved stuffed bunnies and wooden blocks. He also had a dog named Frisky, his much-loved childhood pet. Despite a greater number than usual of ear and throat infections, Jeff developed into a happy little boy. His father recalled the day that they released back into the wild a bird that the three of them had nursed back to health from an injury: "I cradled the bird in my cupped hand, lifted it into the air, then opened my hand and let it go. All of us felt a wonderful delight. Jeff's eyes were wide and gleaming. It may have been the single, happiest moment of his life." The family had moved to Iowa, where Lionel was working on his Ph.D. at Iowa State University. When Jeff was four, his father swept out from under their house the remains of some small animals that had been killed by civets. As his father gathered the tiny animal bones, Jeff seemed "oddly thrilled by the sound they made. His small hands dug deep into the pile of bones. I can no longer view it simply as a childish episode, a passing fascination. This same sense of something dark and shadowy, of a malicious force growing in my son, now colors almost every memory." At the age of six, he was found to be suffering from a double hernia and needed surgery to correct the problem. He never seemed to recover his ebullience and buoyancy. "He seemed smaller; somehow more vulnerable... he grew more inward, sitting quietly for long periods, hardly stirring, his face oddly motionless." In 1966, Lionel had completed his graduate work in Iowa and gotten a job as a research chemist in Akron, Ohio. Joyce was pregnant with their second son, David. By that time, Jeff was in the first grade and "a strange fear had begun to creep into his personality, a dread of others that was combined with a general lack of self-confidence. He was developing a reluctance to change, a need to feel the assurance of familiar places. The prospect of going to school frightened him. The little boy who'd once seemed so happy and self-assured had been replaced by a different person, now deeply shy, distant, and nearly uncommunicative." Lionel suspected that the move from Iowa to Ohio was the causative factor, and Jeff's behavior was a normal reaction to being uprooted from familiar settings and placed into entirely new ones. Lionel, too, had suffered from shyness, introversion and insecurity as a child and had learned to overcome these problems. He figured his son would learn to overcome them too. What he didn't realize was that Jeff's boyhood condition was far graver than his and that "Jeff had begun to suffer from a near isolation." In April of 1967, they bought a new house. Jeff seemed to adjust better to this move and developed a close friendship with a boy named Lee. He was also very fond of one of his teachers and took her a bowl of tadpoles he had caught. Later, Jeff found out that the teacher had given the tadpoles to his friend Lee. Jeff sneaked into Lee's garage and killed all the tadpoles with motor oil. Things did not get better with time. "His posture, and the general way in which he carried himself, changed radically between his tenth and fifteenth years. The loose-limbed boy disappeared, and was replaced by a strangely rigid and inflexible figure. He looked tense, his body very straight. He grew increasingly shy during this time and when approached by other people, he would become very tense. More and more, he remained at home, alone in his room or staring at television. His face was often blank, and he gave the more or less permanent impression of someone who could do nothing but mope around, purposeless and disengaged. He had one friend,...
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