What Dahmer Actually Said
True-crime filmmaker publishes Jeffrey Dahmer’s arrest statements.
Posted October 27, 2017 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
Although we already have a lot of information about the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, from professional reports to comic books, John Borowski has just published the full arrest report, including Dahmer’s lengthy confession (paraphrased by his interrogators). It adds new items and captures Dahmer's manner under questioning.
Dahmer was taken into custody in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 22, 1991, after the police came to his apartment and found photos depicting human mutilations, which led to the discovery of skulls and body parts. In all, investigators collected the remains of 11 different men. Dahmer, requesting cigarettes and coffee, began a lengthy confession that reportedly ran for 145 pages. Some are repetitive, but here and there are interesting items that illuminate the bizarre mind of this killer, such as his discussion of his favorite movie and his stint in Florida.
Since 1978 when he was 18, Dahmer had murdered and dismembered 17 boys and men. All of them, he said, had agreed to engage in sexual activity with him. The youngest was 14. Dahmer said he’d experimented on them in different ways, including frying and tasting the muscles of one.
Since he was a teenager, Dahmer had fantasized about having power over another person, especially a sexual slave, so when his parents abandoned the family home in Ohio in 1978, going their separate ways, Dahmer exploited his sudden privacy. He didn’t like being alone, but he admits that he needed a solitary existence to carry out his darkest fantasies.
While out driving, he spotted a hitchhiker named Steve Hicks. Dahmer invited Hicks home to get high. Hicks stayed a few hours, but when they got into a fight and he tried to leave, Dahmer smashed a barbell against his head. According to one of his accounts, the unconscious man had inspired in him the same rush as pornographic pictures, so he’d strangled Hicks to keep the body. The experience aroused him, as did the process of dismembering. Ultimately, he buried the pieces in the backyard and smashed some of the bones with a sledgehammer.
Years later, while living with his grandmother, Dahmer killed again...and again. He dismembered the bodies in her basement and packaged the parts in plastic for dumping into the trash. Then he moved into his own apartment so he could lure his victims there in total privacy. He added "creative" photography into the experience and started freezing a few parts.
In an effort to create mindless zombies, Dahmer tried drilling holes into the skulls of his drugged victims and injecting acid or boiling water. He did not want the person he’d picked to remember that he lived elsewhere and wanted to leave. Unsurprisingly, the grim experiment failed.
While Dahmer was in prison awaiting his trial, eight psychiatrists and psychologists interviewed him. In addition, three other mental health professionals had encountered him in other criminal justice contexts, and later an FBI profiler and a minister made their own observations. Dahmer’s father, Lionel, wrote an autobiography, A Father’s Story, providing details about his son’s life while admitting how much he'd denied, deflected, or entirely missed specific red flags.
Reading a police report is not quite as chilling as reading a killer’s actual words, but Dahmer's Confession is still an interesting document for serial killer fans to add to their collections. Borowski is known for finding and publishing files that are otherwise inaccessible. He's done this as well for his works on Ed Gein, Albert Fish, and H. H. Holmes. You can also check out his films on Holmes, Panzram, Fish, and Serial Killer Culture.
“I find their lives fascinating,” he told me, “especially the serial killers with interesting psychological components. Gein, Nilsen, Dahmer, and Fish I find the most interesting because their actions are not only extreme and bizarre but there seems to be definite trauma in their past which can be referenced to in causing their actions as a murderer.”
Also included in this "Dahmer Companion" are Borowski’s chilling commentary, several old news articles, Stephen Giannangelo’s psychological summation, some letters that Dahmer wrote, a gallery of artistic depictions, and an account by a chef in a bar that Dahmer had frequented.
Even those who believe they know everything about Dahmer might be surprised by some of the things he said just after his arrest.
Borowski, J. (2017). Dahmer's Confession: The Milwaukee cannibal's arrst statements. Chicago, IL. Waterfront Productions.