Fatherhood is perhaps the most important journey any man will go through in his life. It is his responsibility to be there for his son or daughter, to care and provide for them, and to offer any advice they may need, if he is able.
So – what then, is a father to do when he is told his son; the person he helped bring into this world and raise, is a depraved demon responsible for the demise, the cannibalism, the rape and the dismemberment of seventeen young boys and men?
Write a book, apparently.
Because that is precisely what Lionel Dahmer decided to do once learning of the horrific crimes committed by his first-born son: Jeffery Dahmer.
This book, released in 1994 and published by Little, Brown – was written as a way for Mr. Dahmer to try to understand what went wrong in his son’s life. In which ways, if any, had he contributed to the makings of a monster.
Jeffery Dahmer was born on May 21st, 1960 to Joyce and Lionel Dahmer. They would later have a second child, Dave Dahmer. Since his brother’s infamous arrest and trial, ‘Dave’ has legally changed his name in hopes of distancing himself as far as he possibly can from that part of his life.
One can hardly blame him.
Their father comments in the book that his first wife, the mother of his two boys, was on heavy amounts of medication during the time of Jeffery’s pregnancy; something which he has hinted at could’ve been a contributing factor to his first born’s wickedness. Currently there is zero medical information to back this theory up, however.
Jeffery, he writes, had always been an aloof child. He didn’t have many friends growing up and preferred to spend his time alone. This would continue throughout his whole life.
Lionel Dahmer was a chemist. He would spend the majority of his time at the laboratory, working very long hours. Their mother would be in and out of mental institutions multiple times as they grew up, often she would be unable to get out of bed to care for her children, and they would have to take responsibility for themselves.
Because of Lionel Dahmer’s chemistry work, Jeffery soon picked up a fascination of his own: stripping the flesh of roadkill and preserving their bones in different chemicals his father would bring home.
“I thought…you know, I thought it would turn into a normal hobby. Taxidermy, or something,” Lionel Dahmer says in an interview after his son’s arrest.
Throughout the book you can find photographs of father and son, pictured doing seemingly normal activities any father would do with his child: riding along on a bike, playing with their dog, swinging his son in the air, and splashing around in the pool.
Viewing what would normally be innocent and heartfelt childhood images, you can feel the creeping sensation of a sinister dread at what those small, infantile hands would later do. The necks they would wrap around; the flesh they would tear at; the lives they would snuff out.
Jeffery Dahmer would finally be arrested on July 22nd, 1991, bringing his reign of terror to a close.
Tracy Edwards was nearly Dahmer’s eighteenth victim, but he managed to talk Dahmer into undoing the handcuffs he had placed on him. Then, in a swift movement, he fled the apartment, tracking down two police officers and leading them to the lion’s den, where the gruesome and grisly details of this man’s life would be exposed for all to see.
The judge would ultimately give Dahmer sixteen life terms, meaning that he would not be eligible for parole for over 900 years.
At his sentencing, Jeffery Dahmer would wish for his own death. He couldn’t live with the thoughts of knowing what he did and asked for the death penalty. Although the state of Wisconsin did not have the death penalty, Dahmer would get his wish. He was beaten and killed by a fellow inmate on the 28th of November 1994.
His father ends the book by stating that he feels this was the only appropriate place for his son to go. Not a prison, not a mental intuition – only death. A truly heart-breaking thing to read a father saying about his son; even if it happens to be the truth.
For anyone interested in this case; I urge you to watch the interview between Lionel and Jeffery Dahmer which has been uploaded to YouTube. It was done in 1994, a few months before his death. I will link it below.
Although you and I may be vastly different people to the likes Jeffery Dahmer; we are still all human beings at the end of the day, as trite as it sounds, it is true. It may be hard to grasp Dahmer as ever having been human, but he was. At least for a while.
Should this type of person be forgiven? Attempted to be rehabilitated? Or should they be given the death penalty?
This is not for me to say; everyone must make up their own mind.
Lionel Dahmer says he forgives his son, but he is not sure if his son should forgive him.
A bizarre statement, some may think, but sometimes it is easier to blame yourself than the ones you love, such is your will to protect them.
Such is your blindness.
[ Lione Dahmer/Jeffery Dahmer interview: https://youtu.be/oOCUQKReBk8 ]