Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

AP PSYCHOLOGY

CASE STUDY 1: JEFFREY DAHMER

I. BACKGROUND
Jeffrey Dahmers father, Lionel, seemed to be fairly straightforward in recognizing the negative
influences in Jeff's life. No family is perfect. Jeff's mother had various physical ailments and
appeared to be high strung, coming from a background in which her father's alcoholism deeply
affected her life.
Lionel, a chemist who went on to get his Ph.D., stayed at work more often than he should to avoid
turmoil on the home front. Eventually, the marriage dissolved in divorce when Jeff was eighteen.
Jeff Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960. 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,
wooden blocks, etc. 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 animals. 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, and his face oddly motionless."
In 1966, 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 tadpole to his friend Lee. Jeff sneaked into Lee's garage and killed all the tadpoles
will motor oil.
Things did not get better with time. 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, who drifted apart from him at age fifteen. Lionel found out at Jeff's trial that
during this period, Jeff would ride around with plastic garbage bags and collect the remains of
animals for his own private cemetery. "He would strip the flesh from the bodies of these
putrescent road kills and even mount a dog's head on a stake. He enjoyed a dog and cat as
pets in his childhood and kept pet fish as an adult. His fascination was with dead creatures.
Jeff grew more passive and isolated. He answered questions with barely audible one-word
responses. He was drifting into a nightmare world of unimaginable fantasies. In coming years
those fantasies would begin to overwhelm him. The dead in their stillness would become the
primary objects of his growing sexual desire.
In high school, Jeff had average grades and participated in a few activities: he played tennis and
worked on the school newspaper. However, his classmates considered him a loner and an
alcoholic. He actually had a prom date, who he later invited to his parents' house for a sance.
When Jeff was almost eighteen his parents divorced. A custody battle began over David. Some
months later, Lionel remarried. Whatever Lionel missed about Jeff's alcoholism, his new wife
Shari did not.
Lionel and Shari convinced him to try the idea of college. In the fall of 1978, they drove him to
Ohio State University, but he stayed drunk the whole semester and flunked out. By this time, his
drinking problem was well understood, but he would not seek help for it. Lionel read him the
rules: either Jeff had to get a job or join the Army. When Jeff refused to get a job and stayed
drunk most of the time, his father drove him down to the recruiting office to join the armed forces.
From that time until Jeff's final arrest in 1991, Jeff would appear to be doing well and then it was
clear that he wasn't. He seemed to enjoy the Army, but then he was discharged early for habitual
drunkenness. The offenses got worse as his alcoholism and emotional problems intensified.
Lionel stood by him, paid for the lawyer when Jeff got in trouble with the law, urged him to seek
treatment and crossed his fingers that Jeff would improve.
II: DISCOVERY OF THE CRIMINAL:
As police officers sat in their car, they saw a short, wiry black man with a handcuff dangling from
his wrist. Assuming that this man had escaped from another policeman, they asked him what he
was doing. The man started to pour out a tale about this "weird dude" who put the cuffs on him in
his apartment. The man was thirty-two year old Tracy Edwards.
Edward's story smacked of some homosexual encounter that normally the police would avoid, but
the two policemen thought they ought to check out this man that had cuffed Edwards. Jeffrey
Dahmer opened the door, and he was a nice looking thirty-one-year-old blond man. Dahmer was
very calm and rational. He offered to get the key to the handcuffs in the bedroom.

Once of the officers decided to go into the bedroom himself and take a look. He noticed
photographs lying around that shocked him: dismembered human bodies, skulls in the
refrigerator. When he collected his wits, he yelled to his partner to cuff Dahmer and place him
under arrest.
The man suddenly turned on them and fought as the other cop tried to cuff him. While the one
officer subdued Dahmer, the other one went to the refrigerator and opened it. He shrieked loudly
at the face that stared out at him and slammed the door. "There's a head in the refrigerator!"
A closer examination of the apartment revealed an intimate juxtaposition of the tidy and the
unspeakable. While the small one-bedroom flat was neat and clean, especially for a bachelor,
and his pet fish well cared for, the smell of decomposition was overwhelming.
The box of baking soda in the refrigerator hardly absorbed the odors of a decomposing severed
head. The freezer had three more heads, stored neatly in plastic bags and tied with plastic
twisties.
Polaroid photos taken by Dahmer at various stages of his victims' deaths. One showed a man's
head, with the flesh still intact, lying in a sink. Another displayed a victim cut open from the neck
to the groin, like a deer gutted after the kill, the cuts so clean I could see the pelvic bone clearly."
While Dahmer had sexual fantasies about killing men as early as age fourteen, he didn't do
anything about it until just after he graduated high school. He picked up a hitchhiker named
Steven Hicks when he was living with his parents. They drank some beer together, but then
Hicks wanted to leave. Dahmer couldn't stand the idea of Hicks leaving, so he struck him and
killed him. He needed to get rid of the body so he cut it up, packaged it up in plastic garbage bags
and buried the bags in the woods behind his house.
Soon, he left to join the Army and was stationed in Germany. After a couple of years, the Army
discharged him for alcoholism. Once back home, he dug up Hick's body, pounded the
decomposing corpse with a sledgehammer and scattered the remains in the woods.
Jeff went to live with his grandmother. Things were calm for a few months until he dropped his
trousers in the company of a group of people. Four years later, he did it again. He was put on
probation for a year. Then, Jeff killed his second victim Steven Toumi. He bought a large suitcase
and stuffed the body inside.
He selected his third victim, a boy named Jamie Doxtator who hung around outside the gay bars,
looking for relationships. Dahmer's methods became established by that time. Normally, he
would meet and select his prey at gay bars or bathhouses. He would lure his victims by offering
them money for posing for photographs or simply to enjoy some beer and videos. Then he would
drug them, strangle them, engage in sexual activity, dismember the body and dispose of it.
Sometimes he would keep the skull or other body parts as souvenirs.
By the summer of that year, Dahmer had killed four men. While Dahmer's grandmother was
completely ignorant of the awful things that were happening in her basement, she was fully aware
of the noise and drunkenness of Jeff and his male friends. Something had to be done.
So, on September 25, 1988, Jeffrey moved into an apartment. The very next day, he got into
serious trouble. He offered a thirteen-year-old Laotian boy $50 to pose for some pictures. He
drugged the boy and fondled him. By incredible coincidence, the boy's name was
Sinthasomphone, the older brother of the boy that Dahmer would kill in May of 1991.

The boy's parents realized there was something wrong with their child and took him to the
hospital where it was confirmed that he had been drugged. The police picked up Dahmer. He
was arrested for sexual exploitation of a child and second-degree sexual assault. He pleaded
guilty, although he claimed that he thought that the boy was much older than he was.
While Dahmer awaited sentencing and was living again at his grandmother's
house, he met a black homosexual named Anthony Sears at a gay bar. Like
the others, he offered the aspiring black model some money to pose for
photos. When they reached Dahmer's grandmother's house, Sears was
drugged, sexually abused, and strangled. He kept the head and boiled it to
remove the skin, later painting it gray, so that in case of discovery, the skull
would look like a plastic model used by medical students. Dahmer saved the
trophy for two years.
Assistant D.A. Gale Shelton presented his argument to the court. Shelton wanted a prison
sentence of at least five years. "In my judgment it is absolutely crystal clear that the prognosis for
treatment of Mr. Dahmer within the community is extremely bleak... His perception that what he
did wrong here was choosing too young a victim, -- and that that's all he did wrong, -- is a part of
the problem... He appeared to be cooperative and receptive, but anything that goes below the
surface indicates that the deep-seated anger and deep-seated psychological problems that he is
unwilling or incapable of dealing with."
Three psychologists examined him and concurred that Dahmer was manipulative, resistant and
evasive. Hospitalization and intensive treatment was recommended.
Dahmer himself spoke in his own defense, blaming his behavior on alcoholism. He was articulate
and convincing, for someone who had secretly murdered several men by that time. "What I have
done is very serious. I've never been in this position before. Nothing this awful. This is a
nightmare come true for me. If anything would shock me out of my past behavior patterns, this is
it... All I can do is beg you, please spare my job. Please give me a chance to show that I can, that
I can tread the straight and narrow and not get involved in any situation like this ever again.... I do
want help. I do want to turn my life around."
A marvelous performance by a true psychopath! The judge fell for it, stayed his sentence, and
put Dahmer on probation for five years.
During the following fifteen months, Dahmer went on a killing binge that cost eleven men their
lives. The pace of Dahmer's murders accelerated to a frenzy in May-July of 1991 when he was
killing almost at a rate of one man a week. All but three were black; one was white, one was
Laotian and one was Hispanic. Most, but not all, were homosexual or bisexual. Many of the
victims lived what police call "high-risk" lifestyles. Most of the men had arrest records, often for
very serious crimes, like arson, sexual assault, rape, battery, etc.

Ricky Lee Beeks July, 1990


Ernest Miller Sept., 1990
David Thomas Sept., 1990
Curtis Straughter Feb., 1991
Errol Lindsey April, 1991
Anthony Hughes May 24, 1991
Konerak Sinthasomphone May 27, 1991
Matt Turner June 30, 1991
Jeremiah Weinberger July 5, 1991
Oliver Lacey July 12, 1991

Joseph Bradehoft July 19, 1991

His ritual for luring, murdering and disposing of his victims was usually the same. He invited the
men to his apartment to watch videos or to pose for photos. He crushed up his prescribed
sedatives and served them in a drink. Once drugged, Dahmer strangled them with his bare
hands or with a leather strap.
Before any clean up began, Dahmer reached for his Polaroid to capture the entire experience so
that he could remember each and every murder. Then he cut open their torsos. Finally, he would
dismember the man, photographing each stage of the process for future viewing pleasure. He
disposed of most of the bodies, experimenting with various chemicals and acids that would
reduce the flesh and bone to a black, evil-smelling sludge, which could be poured down a drain or
toilet.
Some parts of the bodies he chose to keep as trophies. They were preserved in formaldehyde.
The heads were boiled until the flesh came off. Dahmer claimed that he ate the flesh of his
victims because he believed that the people would come alive again in him. He tried various
seasonings and meat tenderizers to make the human flesh tastier. His freezer contained strips
of frozen human flesh.
Control was an all important issue for Dahmer. He could not tolerate rejection or abandonment.
Even in his relationships, he did not want to please his partner; he just wanted to have his own
pleasures.
This absolute need for control led him down some pretty weird roads. One of them was a kind of
lobotomy that he performed on several of his victims. Once they were drugged, he drilled a hole
in their skulls and injected some muriatic acid into their brains.
He had plans to create a shrine in his apartment, featuring all of his trophies, his statue of a
griffin, and incense burned in the skulls of his victims, so that he could receive "special powers
and energies to help him socially and financially."
He was sentenced to fifteen consecutive life terms or a total of 957 years in prison.
Dahmer adjusted very well to prison life. Initially, he was not part of the general population of the
prison, which would have jeopardized his safety. Dahmer, the model prisoner, convinced the
prison authorities to allow him more contact with other inmates. He was able to eat in communal
areas and he was given some janitorial work to do with other teams of inmates.
For some incredible reason, he was paired up with two highly dangerous men on a work detail. It
was a disastrous combination. The morning of November 28, 1994, the guard left these three
men alone to do their work.
Twenty minutes later, the guards came back to find Dahmer's head crushed. Jeffrey Dahmer
was pronounced dead at 9:11 A.M.