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How Did Jeffrey Dahmer Die? His Early Life and Cause of Death Explained

Since the release of Netflix’s biographical crime series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story which aired on September 21st, many fans have been trembling with anticipation and curiosity. The story of the Milwaukee Monster has sparked many questions, especially the ones regarding the killer’s personal life. All of this has led to an inevitable question; How did Jeffrey Dahmer die? And who was he, truly?

After Dahmer was found to be legally sane at his trial, he was convicted of fifteen murders he has committed in Wisconsin, which led to fifteen terms of life imprisonment. Jeffrey died in prison, but his death was not of natural cause; on November 28, 1994, he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.

If you’ve been wondering about the gory details of the Milwaukee Cannibal’s life – you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right into what made this serial killer so infamous before eventually leading him to his doom. Beware, though; this article is not for the faint of heart.

Early Life

Little Jeffrey next to his little brother, David.

Born on May 21, 1960 (for any of you wondering – yes, he was a Gemini), Jeffrey was the first son of Joyce Annette, and Lionel Herbert Dahmer. His mother was a teletype machine instructor, while his father was a research chemist, which Jeffrey used to his advantage, years later.

Some sources report that Dahmer was deprived of attention throughout his childhood and even as an infant. His mother was known to be depressed and suicidal. As far as it is known, neither parent devoted much time to their son. This resulted in him feeling “unsure of the solidity of the family” and abandoned.

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It has been said that Dahmer manifested an eerie interest in dead animals from an early age. According to his father, Jeffrey was “oddly thrilled” by the sound the bones made upon being broken. Not only that, but the child often searched in and around the family home for additional bones, all while exploring the bodies of live animals to discover where the bones were located.

Since his early childhood, Dahmer had acquired a taste for collecting skeletons of small animals, such as chipmunks and squirrels. Since Lionel, Dahmer’s father, was a scientist, he often demonstrated how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones – which proved to come in handy for Dahmer.

Here’s where it becomes awfully macabre, though;

Young Jeffrey with his dog.

In one instance, sometime in 1975, Dahmer decapitated a dog’s carcass before nailing the body to a tree and impaling the skull upon a stick in the woodland behind his house. He invited a friend to view the display, as “a prank”, claiming he discovered the remains by chance. What a great friend, right?

Domination, Control, And First Murder

Throughout his life, Jeffrey was considered an outcast. Although vastly uncommunicative and heavily reliant on alcohol, he was oftentimes seen as a polite and highly intelligent student.

During his early teens, Dahmer discovered he was gay. Although he had a brief relationship with another boy, they never had intercourse. By Jeffrey’s admission, that’s around the time when he began fantasizing about dominating and controlling a submissive male partner. His fantasies gradually became intertwined with his macabre childhood hobby; dissection.

His fantasies rapidly became attack attempts but to no avail. The first murder he ever successfully committed was just three weeks after his graduation, in 1978. Just like many of his latter murders, this one was also sexually deviant.

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On June 18, Dahmer picked up an unassuming 18-year-old hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks, who had been hitchhiking to a rock concert in Ohio. Dahmer lured the victim to his house on the pretext of drinking and having a house to himself. Later on, Dahmer admitted that the sight of bare-chested hicks stirred his sexual feelings, although he decided not to act on it as Hicks made remarks about being straight.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims.

After several hours of talking and drinking, Hicks wanted to leave – but, Jeffrey didn’t let him. Unfortunately, Dahmer struck Hicks twice from behind with a 10-pound dumbbell, leaving him unconscious. He then went on to strangle him to death with the bar of the dumbbell and stripped his clothes to explore his body.

After indulging in his chillingly perverted fantasies, Dahmer dissected the victim’s body in his basement. He buried the remains in a shallow grave before unearthing the remains and paring the flesh from the bones. He then dissolved the flesh in acid before flushing the solution down the drain. What was left of the bones, he crushed them with a sledgehammer and scattered them in the woodland behind his home.

Dahmer returned to leading his normal life, although still heavily relying on substances. Between the years of 1978 and 1991, Dahmer horrifically murdered 17 males. All of the murder cases contained serious elements of rape, dismemberment, necrophilia, and even cannibalism.

Turning Victims Into “Zombies”

Throughout his killing years, Dahmer has done shockingly dreadful crimes. His sexual deviance led him to drug and rape his victims, before murdering them and carrying out particularly disturbing acts with their corpses.

Moreover, Dahmer didn’t shy away from taking photographs of the dismemberment process. The Milwaukee Cannibal even consumed his victim’s remains.

By the summer of 1991, Dahmer began killing around one person each week. He managed to somehow indulge in even more atrocious acts; his infatuation with the idea of turning his victims into “zombies” that would act as submissive sexual partners.

To succeed in his aim, Dahmer used many different techniques, such as drilling holes into victims’ skulls and injecting hydrochloric acid or boiling water into their brains.

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What’s even worse is that, on one occasion, a lobotomized victim managed to escape – only to be returned to Dahmer’s deadly chambers. The officers failed to run a background check that would reveal Dahmer’s sex offender status, and he managed to convince the police that the young man was, simply – his extremely intoxicated boyfriend.

Getting Caught

On July 22, 1991, Dahmer lured Tracy Edwards into his home, under the pretext of cash exchange for the victims’ company. Edwards was then forced into the bedroom by Dahmer – with a butcher knife. The victim somehow managed to free himself and escape, managing to flag down a police car.

Upon entering Dahmer’s apartment, the police were appalled by what they had found; Dahmer had many pictures of dead bodies and dismembered limbs all over his bedrooms. This has finally allowed them to place Dahmer under arrest.

The crime scene.

Further investigation of his home led to finding human remains in the refrigerator, several human heads in the apartment, and multiple photographs of the victims. A total of seven skulls were found in his apartment, along with an altar that was constructed with them, in his closet.

After being taken into custody, Dahmer confessed to all the unimaginably gruesome things he had done to the authorities. In the end, he was charged with 16 murders, and the evidence they had on him was simply overwhelming. The total years he was obligated to spend in prison added up to a whopping total of 957 years.

Cause Of Death Explained

Dahmer served his time in Wisconsin, at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage. During his time in prison, he became a renowned Christian and spent most of his time reading the Bible. He expressed remorse for his actions, and even wished for his own death.

He was attacked twice by his fellow inmates. While the first attempt to slice his neck only left him with superficial wounds, his wish eventually came true; on November 28, 1994, he was attacked a second time, in one of the prison showers. Although Dahmer was still alive when he was found, he died on the way to the hospital from severe head trauma.

  • Nina is just another student of Cultural Studies that's slowly embracing postmodern popular culture. Her biggest interest lies in the very beginning of cinema.