- Born: 21 May 1960
- Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Died: 28 November 1994
- Best Known As: The “Milwaukee Cannibal” serial killer
Serial killer Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer is infamous for the grisly way he dismembered and cannibalized his many victims. Police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin arrested Dahmer on 22 July 1991 while investigating a man’s claim that he had escaped from Dahmer’s apartment. Tracy Edwards, a 32 year-old black man, claimed Dahmer had invited him home for drinks, then drugged, handcuffed and threatened him. Investigating officers found evidence of gruesome crimes in Dahmer’s apartment, including a human head in the refrigerator and human meat in the freezer. Dahmer ended up confessing to 17 murders committed between 1978 and 1991 (12 of which occurred in 1990 and 1991). It was quite a story: Dahmer murdered men and boys, he used their corpses for sexual gratification, he boiled and painted skulls, he collected penises and he ate biceps. He entered a plea of “guilty but insane,” but was found guilty and sane by a jury and sentenced to 957 years in jail, or the equivalent of 15 life terms. While in prison in Portage, Wisconsin he was beaten to death by another inmate in 1994.
The Dahmer killings have also been analyzed for a subtext of racial issues. Dahmer was white, but almost all of his victims were non-whites. One of his victims, a 14-year-old from Laos named Konerak Sinthasomphone, escaped from Dahmer’s apartment in Milwaukee on 27 May 1991 and was found by two black teenagers, who called police on his behalf. Dahmer told the two investigating officers that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old lover; the incoherent ramblings of Sinthasomphone and the concerns of the teenagers were dismissed in favor of Dahmer’s story. Sinthasomphone became Dahmer’s 13th victim shortly afterward. The incident was seen as an example of how authorities can be influenced by racial biases. In what some consider an ironic twist, the inmate who killed Dahmer in prison was black.
Dahmer’s case was in the news again in early 2007, when a Miami newspaper reported a link between Dahmer and the 1981 murder and decapitation of six year-old Adam Walsh in Broward County, Florida. Investigators from the Hollywood (Florida) Police Department, however, ruled out Dahmer as Walsh’s killer.