'Dahmer' revisits true-life history of serial killer, cannibal

Evan Peters stars as real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Netflix limited series "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story." Photo courtesy of Netflix
Evan Peters stars as real-life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Netflix limited series "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story." Photo courtesy of Netflix

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Netflix limited series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story dramatizes the real-life story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who admitted to killing 17 young men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

The series, from creators Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, reached the No. 1 spot for an English-language TV series on Netflix this week. Monster, which stars Evan Peters as Dahmer, tracks the serial killer's life from his first murder until his own death in prison in 1994.


Dahmer's early years were previously dramatized in the 2017 film My Friend Dahmer, based on the graphic novel by John Backderf. A three-part documentary series, Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, will arrive on Netflix Oct. 7.

Dahmer became one of the most infamous serial killers in U.S. history not only due to his high body count, but due to lurid details that emerged during his trial about acts of cannibalism and necrophilia. Here is an account of his life of crime from the UPI Archive.


Early life

Testimony from Dahmer's 1992 trial revealed he had a childhood fascination with dead animals and made a hobby out of skinning carcasses and experimenting with different chemicals to see which were the most effective in cleaning bones.

Dahmer developed a drinking problem at age 15 or 16, the court heard. Gerald Boyle, Dahmer's lawyer, said his client was 16 when he developed an obsession with a jogger he repeatedly spotted on the road near his family's Bath Township, Ohio, home.

Boyle said in his opening statement that Dahmer "went home and sawed off a baseball bat so he could hit the jogger, take him in the woods and have sex with him," but never carried out the plan.

Hitchhiker Steven Hicks, 18, became Dahmer's first victim in June 1978, three weeks after Dahmer, then 18, graduated high school. Dahmer picked up Hicks from the side of a road and took him to his family's home.

Dahmer confessed to authorities that he drank beer with Hicks before striking the other man on the head with a barbell when he attempted to leave. Dahmer then strangled Hicks and buried his remains in a shallow grave behind the home.


Dahmer exhumed the remains weeks later, dissolved the flesh in acid and crushed the bones with a sledgehammer before spreading them around the yard.

Wisconsin killings

Nine years passed before Dahmer took another life. The killer moved in with his grandmother in West Allis, Wis., and experimented with both Christianity and occult worship during this time.

In 1986, eight years after Hicks' death, Dahmer was banned from Club Bath Milwaukee after several patrons at the bathhouse accused Dahmer of giving them alcoholic beverages that had been drugged. One of the alleged drugging victims was hospitalized for over a week.

Dahmer's second victim, Steven Tuomi, 24, was killed in 1987, followed by James Doxator, 14; Richard Guerrero, 22; and Anthony Sears, 24.

Dahmer moved into his Oxford Arms apartment in Milwaukee in 1990, and there he committed the murders of Raymond Smith, 32; Edward Smith, 27; Ernest Miller, 22; David Courtney Thomas, 22; Curtis Straughter, 17; Errol Lindsey, 19; and Anthony Hughes, 31.


On May 27, 1991, two months before Dahmer's arrest, police responded to his neighborhood on a report of a naked, bleeding and dazed young man running in the street.

Officers arrived to find Dahmer pursuing Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14. Sinthasomphone was too disoriented to speak to the officers, but Dahmer told them the teenager was his 19-year-old lover. Dahmer claimed Sinthasomphone was intoxicated and had fled his apartment after a fight. He persuaded the officers to return Sinthasomphone to his apartment.


Police left without filing charges and Dahmer then killed Sinthasomphone, who was later discovered to be the younger brother of a 13-year-old boy Dahmer had been convicted of sexually assaulting in 1989.

Officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish were suspended and subsequently fired from the department after Sinthasomphone was identified as one of Dahmer's victims. The officers later successfully appealed the decision and were reinstated in 1994.

Dahmer claimed three more victims before his arrest: Matthew Turner, 20; Jeremiah Weinberger, 23; Oliver Lacy, 24; and Joseph Bradehoft, 25.

The killer was arrested on July 22, 1991, when would-be victim Tracy Edwards, 32, escaped from his apartment and flagged down police officers. Edwards had a pair of handcuffs dangling from his wrist and he told police Dahmer had attempted to use the cuffs to restrain him.

Police accompanied Edwards back to Dahmer's apartment, where they found numerous dismembered body parts from Dahmer's recent kills.

Trial and death

Dahmer confessed to the 17 killings and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 15 counts of first-degree murder. Milwaukee County Judge Laurence C. Gram Jr. presided over the jury trial to establish whether Dahmer was sane at the time of his crimes.


The court heard Dahmer would often lure his victims with the promise of payment in exchange for modeling for photographs. He would usually drug his victims before strangling them to death.

The jury was also told Dahmer would perform sex acts on the bodies before dismembering them, a process he would sometimes document with photographs. Dahmer admitted to cannibalizing one victim's bicep and told authorities he had intended to eat a victim's heart that was found at his apartment.

His lawyer said at the trial that Dahmer "ate body parts so that these poor people he killed would become alive again in him."

Dr. Park Dietz, a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution, argued Dahmer was in control of his actions when he committed the crimes. He said his interviews with Dahmer indicated he had to consume alcohol before he could kill a victim.

"He had to take this additional step to overcome his natural inhibition against the killing," Dietz told the court. "If he had an impulse to kill or a compulsion to kill, he wouldn't have to drink alcohol to overcome it. He only has to drink alcohol to overcome it because he is inhibited against killing."


The psychiatrist said Dahmer performed experiments on some of his victims while they were still living. He said Dahmer would drill holes in a victim's head and pour acid into the opening with the aim of creating a "zombie."

"He wanted to be able to take one of the men and make it so that that man had no will of his own," Dietz said.

The jury determined Dahmer was sane at the time of the killings and Gram sentenced him to 15 consecutive life terms in prison.

"I hope that God can forgive me. I know the families cannot forgive me," Dahmer told the court.

Dahmer was extradited to Ohio to face charges for Hicks' murder and was sentenced to a 16th term of life imprisonment.

Dahmer and Jesse Anderson, a fellow prisoner at the Columbia Correctional Center in Portage, Wis., were killed by a third inmate, Christopher Scarver, while cleaning a bathroom in the prison's recreational area on Nov. 28, 1994. Dahmer was still alive when taken to a hospital, but succumbed to multiple skull fractures and brain trauma after less than an hour.

Chicago resident David Weinberger, father of Dahmer victim Jeremiah Weinberger, told UPI that hearing of the killer's death did not bring him any comfort.


"He was gone. Do you feel a bit of satisfaction [when] a dump gets cleaned up?...It's nice. It's incidental. It's not important," Weinberger said the day after Dahmer's death.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is streaming now on Netflix.

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