10 Weird Facts About Jeffrey Dahmer’s Childhood

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 and killed in jail on November 28, 1994.  He was in jail for fifteen life sentences delivered for the seventeen lives he had taken, being convicted of only fifteen of them.  His crimes were gruesome and involved torture, rape, cannibalism, necrophilia and dismemberment.  His arrest and the evidence against him shocked the world when he was arrested in Milwaukee in 1991.  He wanted the men he killed to stay with him forever and was attempting to turn them into “zombies”.  He had many different body parts, chemicals and organs scattered throughout his apartment.  The building he lived in and killed in was eventually destroyed to pay respect for the victims and the victim’s families.

He was born to two parents who loved him.  He was wanted, loved and cherished.  How did this great start in life turn into the beginning of a story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers?  Was Jeffrey Dahmer a “born killer” or did he become conditioned to become so awful?  The famous “nature vs. nurture” debate rages on.  The truth nearly always is some mixture of both — he was genetically predisposed to violence and the life he lead triggered these predispositions.  It’s difficult to understand that serial killers are often more like us than not like us.  They blend into crowds and disappear looking like any other ordinary person.  In fact, Jeffrey Dahmer himself was once quoted as saying:  “When I was a little kid, I was just like anybody else.”  I don’t know about you but that scares the crap out of me.  Here’s ten weird facts about Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, Joyce, had a difficult time carrying him.

It’s been said that Joyce had a very difficult pregnancy and relied on many different medications to help with nausea and assorted pregnancy woes.  It’s also been said that “every little thing seemed to annoy her” after the birth of Jeffrey.  Perhaps she was suffering from post partum depression which can lead, in some instances, to a difficulty bonding to the baby.  Difficult pregnancies and childbirths have also been associated with a difficult bonding process between new mothers and babies.  Although it has also been reported that Joyce made an extensive scrapbook for her precious son Jeffrey including his first words, the first time he walked, many photos and even a description of his first scolding.

Jeffrey Dahmer was an animal lover.

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He’s seen here with a photo of his dog.  There have been many rumours that Dahmer tortured and killed animals.  However, these rumours are untrue.  He spoke of an incident of his friend trying to run dogs down in the road while they were driving to school and how disgusted he was by that.  He seemed to genuinely feel badly about the animal’s deaths.

He may not have tortured and killed animals but he did like to examine their dead bodies.

He had a fascination with dead animal bones and dead animals.  He stated once that he liked the sound of the bones clicking together in a bucket.  He liked to dissect dead animals and bleach their bones.  There is no evidence that he actually killed the animals that he sickeningly “played” with.  Once upon finding a dead dog, he impaled it’s head upon a stick.  This fascination seems to have started with his father finding a dead animal under the family home’s porch.  This fascination with death and remains appears to have stayed with him until his death.

He underwent a double hernia surgery at the age of four.

He was not told, or perhaps didn’t understand, the details of the surgery.  This event seemed to turn a happy, normal child into someone who is confused and withdrawn.  He didn’t realize the reason for the surgery and was shocked when doctors and nurses were touching him and examining him without explanation.  One source even states that Dahmer asked his mother if his genitals had been removed because he was in so much pain.  This would be horribly traumatizing and confusing for a boy at such a young age.

His parents fought openly and constantly in front of him before their divorce.

It seems that the Dahmer’s marriage was strained from the very beginning.  After Dahmer’s birth, their arguing began effecting someone besides themselves.  Dahmer has been quoted as saying:  “I decided I wasn’t ever going to get married because I never wanted to go through anything like that.”  Research has shown that marital squabbles in front of children can deeply scar them and effectively, change who they become.

It has been reported that he was sexually molested at the age of 8.

The validity of these reports remains unproven although molestation would fit the profile of the childhood of a serial killer.  These reports involve an older neighbour molesting Dahmer and having the assault go unreported.  I doubt we’ll ever know whether this attack actually occurred or is one of the many rumors of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life.

Dahmer was extremely shy and introverted through his childhood and teenage years.

He went from being a shy little boy to being an extremely introverted teenager who had difficulty connecting with the world around him.  He was widely praised by adults for being very obedient when in reality he just didn’t care what was happening.  He withdrew into his fantasies and spent a lot of time collecting, dissecting and examining road kill.

Dahmer rarely smiled.

His father said that Dahmer rarely smiled.  This can be readily seen in his high school graduation photo shown below. Some sources said that his double hernia surgery at the age of four confused Dahmer so much that he became quite sullen.  His smiles were extremely infrequent and rarely evident in pictures.  This is his high school graduation photo.

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Here’s one of the infamous photos of Dahmer during his court case.  He looks quite ordinary, even mildly handsome but the mouth looks extremely flat.  As if it has never smiled at all.

When his parent’s marriage finally deteriorated to the point of separation, Dahmer was left to fend for himself.

In his senior year, Dahmer’s parents split up.  His father left alone and his mother left with his younger brother Daniel.  Dahmer seized this opportunity of living alone to commit his first murder just a few days after his high school graduation.  By this time Dahmer was a very heavy drinker.  He picked up a nineteen year old hitch hiker named Steven Hicks and invited him back home for a few drinks.  The two drank and had sex.  When Hicks went to leave, Dahmer killed him and cut him up into several pieces.  He bagged the pieces and buried them in several areas in the woods behind his home.  This murder seemed to shock him and he tried to “clean up his act” for the next several years.

Dahmer joined the Army at the insistance of his father who wanted him to get a job or enlist.

Dahmer tried college for two terms and then dropped out.  His father then forced Dahmer to enlist in the army hoping that it would clean him up.  Dahmer enlisted for six years but was discharged after two for his heavy drinking.  It was later investigated whether Dahmer was connected to a series of killings in Germany during his service there.  There was no official link between Dahmer and the killings but suspicions remain.

In one of Dahmer’s quotes he says exactly what I’ve been thinking, “It’s hard for me to believe that a human being could have done what I’ve done, but I know that I did it.”  Perhaps by profiling commonalities in serial killer’s childhoods and lives, we can pinpoint what to watch out for and more importantly, what to avoid when dealing with children.  If Jeffrey Dahmer had been stopped after his first murder, sixteen lives would have been saved.  Maybe Dahmer’s life itself would have been saved too.

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