No one will ever know what drove Jeffrey Dahmer to commit what could possibly be called the most bizarre and disgusting crimes of the last century. Was his love for dismembering and eating people kindled the moment he began playing with the crushed civet bones he found when he was a child? Or were his demons only unleashed when, as a young man, he impulsively killed Stephen Hicks, his first victim, on a warm summer day in June 1978?
During his long and prolific career, Dahmer learned a lot. He learned, for instance, that if he boiled severed heads in Soilex the flesh would just wipe right off. He learned that if he then painted those same skulls grey, curious relatives would presume them to be anatomical models. And he learned that, sometimes, the odds favored the killer.
The story of Konerak Sinthasomphone must rival that of Grace Budd for sheer poignancy. Their fates were similar: both were mere children and both were killed and, at least, partially eaten (Budd by Albert Fish and Sinthasomphone by Dahmer). And both deaths could have been prevented. Budd was noticed by her killer on a day when he had quite a different target in mind – her brother – and Konerak almost escaped Dahmer’s clutches.
No one who is familiar with the gruesome world of the serial killer will be able to get the picture out of his mind of the young, naked and incoherent Laotian boy running down a Milwaukee street while begging for help. Neither will they be able to forget that the police called by those who witnessed the boy’s terrified flight did not listen to the boy’s pleas but rather to the explanation of the man who gave himself out to be the boy’s lover. They will also remember that the police ignored the strange smell they noticed coming from the man’s apartment while they were delivering Konerak back “home”. And they will certainly not forget that Konerak was strangled and dismembered within minutes of being left alone in the apartment with his “lover”. Similarly lodged in their mind would be the fact that, in a strange twist of fate and despite not knowing the Sinthasomphone family, the same “lover” had been previously convicted for sexually abusing Konerak’s older brother, Keison.
Dahmer would abuse, kill and dismember at least fifteen young men during the period September 1987 through July 1991. There is no doubt that he would have continued with his frightful hobby should a potential victim not have escaped and alerted the authorities on July 22nd 1991. Dahmer was immediately arrested and his apartment searched. It was not long before the police discovered that the grey anatomical models were actually the real thing, as were the severed heads, severed hands and the severed genitals.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial began in January 1992 and lasted only two weeks, with the verdict being guilty on 15 counts of murder. Despite a game fight being put up by his counsel, Dahmer was also judged to be sane and was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms totaling 957 years. He was not to serve more than a fraction of this time, however, as, on November 28th 1994, he was attacked so severely by a fellow inmate that he later died of his injuries. The secret that fuelled his dementia died with him.
Jeffrey Dahmer Wikipedia
Schechter, Harold. The Serial Killer Files. New York: Ballantine Books (2003)
Wilson, Colin. The History of Murder. Edison: Castle Books (2004)
John Balcerzak Wikipedia
Marion Bardsley Jeffrey Dahmer TruTV Crime Library
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims Heads In My Fridge