Who Is Jeffrey Dahmer? 10 Haunting Facts About The Cannibal Serial Killer Who Forced Young Boys Into Personal Sex Slaves

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who is jeffrey dahmer

He's in the news again.

Who is Jeffrey Dahmer? Dahmer is a name you might be seeing in the headlines lately — but not for the reasons that you might think.

The infamous cannibal serial killer who murdered and ate the remains of dozens of men in the hopes of making them his personal, permanent sex slaves, isn't being written up in the crime sheets again; this time he's making the news because of a new film being released about the killer. 

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My Friend Dahmer is a movie based off the graphic memoir of the same title by John "Derf" Backderf. The film concentrates on Jeffrey Dahmer's life prior to the murders that made him notorious. It specifically chronicles his senior highschool experience, capturing how the strange loner with a penchant for road kill became known as something of a class clown among Backderf and his friends.

It's a haunting and terrifying movie even if no crime ever takes place on the screen. The portrait of a young Dahmer is horrifyingly captivating; you can't help wondering what it was exactly that turned him into a man who would kill and eat other human beings. 

If you want to know more about Dahmer than the film ever teaches, we've rounded up 10 of the essential facts of his life for your consideration. These 10 facts are all as equally haunting in their own right. Brace yourself — and maybe don't read this while you're eating. 

1. Hernia surgery 

Born in 1960, when Jeffrey Dahmer was six years old he had a surgery done to repair a double hernia

This marked a profound period of change for Dahmer because directly after his surgery, his mother gave birth to Dahmer's younger brother and his father's job forced the family to move to Ohio. 

Dahmer became shy, and lacked confidence. He began to associate the changes to his own body with his own diminishing returns on happiness, a dangerous association to make at any age, let alone before puberty struck.

2. Parents divorce

When Jeffrey Dahmer was 14 years old, his parents divorced. 

His father's tremendous stress at work and his mother's manic depression (which led to her being briefly hospitalized) were a powder keg for the couple, and eventually divorce became their only option.

Later, after his arrests — and once the true extent of his horrific crimes became known — Dahmer often pointed to his parents' crumbling marriage and divorce as a stressor that led him to eventually act out in the worst ways imaginable. 

3. Animal bones

Many serial killers are recorded as having tortured or killed small animals during their own childhood.

For Jeffrey Dahmer, it started a little bit differently. His father was a chemist, and when Dahmer asked him what would happen if he put chicken bones in bleach, his father thought he was demonstrating a healthy interest in science.

The truth was that Dahmer was, from a young age, fascinated by death, and he would use what he learned from his father to help try and preserve some of the animal remains he would pick up on the side of the road — or later on, kill himself. 

4. His first victim was a hitchhiker. 

Jeffrey Dahmer began killing his victims in 1978, when he picked up a hitchhiker named Stephen Hicks. 

Hicks was looking for a ride home but Dahmer offered him liquor and a party, and Stephen accepted. 

Dahmer took him back to the family home — his mother and brother having moved in with his grandmother and his father living in an apartment elsewhere — he had the place to himself.

When Stephen tried to leave, Dahmer, furious at the thought of being abandoned by someone else, struck him over the head with a barbell and killed him.

He dismembered Stephen, disposing his body in plastic bags. No one knew about the crime for 9 years. 

5. Dahmer's alcoholism

Jeffrey Dahmer was an alcoholic from a very young age. In high school, he started most mornings with an open container of booze that he referred to as "my medicine."

After the murder of Stephen Hicks, he became even more dependent on alcohol. His substance abuse issues led to him being kicked out of Ohio State University after just one semester.

His father, furious and at a loss, insisted on his son joining the army, hoping that the discipline would straighten him out.

Dahmer was in service from 1978 to 1981 when he was discharged for his alcoholism.

He moved in with his grandmother in Wisconsin at this time, but he didn't stop drinking.

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 6. Indecent exposure 

As Jeffrey Dahmer continued to drink, his criminal behavior continued to escalate.

He was arrested for disorderly conduct in a bar near his grandmother's house and in 1986, was arrested for masturbating in front of 2 boys by the Kinnickinnic River.

Dahmer claimed that he thought he was alone and was simply urinating and the charges were changed to disorderly conduct. He received a year's probation. 

7. Sexual molestation

After his ultimate arrest, Jeffrey Dahmer would allege he had been molested by a next door neighbor when he was just 8 years old.

Neither he nor anyone else in his family reported the molestation, so the charges remain unverified. That said, Dahmer does point to these incidents as affecting him on a deeply-rooted psychological level.

8. Jeffrey Dahmer's Victims

Jeffrey Dahmer killed 16 more men in addition to Stephen Hicks. 

Their names were Stephen Tuomi, James Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, Anthony Sears, Raymond Smith, Eddie Smith, Ernest Miller, David Thomas, Curtis Straughter, Errol Linsey, Tony Hughs, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Matt Turner, Jeremiah Weinberger, Oliver Lacy, and Joseph Bradehoft.

His victims were between the ages of 14 and 33. They were all men. He either killed them at his grandmother's house or in the small apartment he eventually came to live in on his own.

His killings followed a pattern. He would lure the men to his apartment, have consensual or nonsexual sex, drug them, rape them, and eventually bludgeon them to death or strangle them to death, saving trophies such as bones or flesh, some of which he would eat. 

He did his best dispose of the remains but much of Dahmer's reason for killing was his belief that if he killed these men and ingested them he could make them his "willing sex slaves". Dahmer very much believed in zombies and felt that making one of his own was the only way to make sure that he would have a partner who would never ever leave him in the way his parents had. 

9. Evidence of his cannibalism 

At the time of his arrest, the police found three decapitated heads and dismembered body parts in his refrigerator and freezer, which were stored in jars and preserved in liquids.

Dahmer frequently offerred sandwiches to his neighbors who would eat them out of politeness, not knowing what was inside. 

Dahmer himself admitted to eating heart, biceps, and a liver, cooked and uncooked.

10. His own murder

In 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to 940 years in jail for the murders and other crimes he had committed. 

Just three years into his sentence during a cleaning detail, fellow criminal Christopher Scarver beat Dahmer until he was dead. 

Scarver claims he killed Dahmer because he was grossed out by the man's crimes. He mentioned that during chow time Dahmer would frequently shape his food into human limbs to scare the other inmates.

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her two cats, Batman and Margo and usually  pint of ice cream, but never the same pint. You can find her writing here, there, and also on Twitter.