Serial killers refer to an individual who kills multiple victims. In a way, they may be considered as mass killers, spree killers, and serial killers. The FBI considers these individuals to be different based on the number of victims, motivation, and time between the murders. Mass murders kill more than four individual at one time without a cooling down period. Spree killers kill two or more victims. The serial killers have been redefining to a killer of two or more victims, in a different location and with the period between the murders. This paper will address the case of Jeffrey Dahmer. He was a serial killer and sexual offender who committed his crimes between the years of 1978-1991. His murders also included rape, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism (Silva et al., 2002).
Jeffrey Dahmer has been described in many accounts as having had a normal childhood but later began trends of being withdrawn and uncommunicative as he grew older. He developed an interest in dead animals and would collect the dead animals he found on the roadside, treat their pelts with chemical or bury them in the backyard, the same place where he buried his first murder victim. In school, Dahmer played clarinet and tennis but was no unpopular around the school (Silva et al., 2002). He engaged in alcoholism in his high school years and his father’s attempt to have him enroll in the military did not work as he kicked out due alcohol-related problems.
Dahmer was not a sadist and did not enjoy the terror and pain of his victims as he killed them. His method involved drugging his victims and strangling them while unconscious. Dahmer did not enjoy torturing his victims and did not relish their cries of agony and pleas for mercy. His method of killing involved sedating and a quick death. The police found skills and body parts preserved in formaldehyde or refrigerator. He also maintained a scrapbook of dead victims indicating various stages of dismemberment. Dahmer adopted the idea of turning his victims into zombies and engaging them as youthful submissive sexual partners. He would drill holes into their skull and inject HCl or boiling water into their brains (Strubbel, 2007).
Jeffrey Dahmer was also involved in paraphilic cannibalism. Paraphilic cannibalism is the act of deriving sexual pleasure from the consuming human flesh. Dahmer admitted that he kept the victims’ flesh in the refrigeration to ‘eat them later”. He was also engaged in pedophilia and had been arrested a couple of times for exposing himself to the children and molesting them. Dahmer also portrayed traits of exhibitionism that is found to grow from pedophilia. This was characterized by poor social skills and impaired social judgment. Dahmer was charged with the disorderly conduct of exposing himself to the public and confessed having perfumed public masturbation on different incidents (Higgs, 2012).
Dahmer carried out his first murder when he was 18 years old. The victim, Steven Hicks, was offered a beer at the murder’s home. When Steven, wanted to leave, Dahmer hit him with a 10lb dumbbell on the head and buried his body in the backyard. The second murder occurred nine years after in 1987 where he picked the victim from the bar and latter attacked and killed him. The murders then occurred in a sporadic pattern with two in 1988 and one in 1989. He identified his from gay bars and engaged in sex with them before committing the act. He later moved to his apartment from where he killed four victims and 1990 and three in 1991. In one incident, his victim escaped and was discovered wandering the street and confused, having been drugged. Dahmer lied to the police that he was his boyfriend and they had had a fight. The victim was handed back to his murder that later killed him and souvenir his skull.
In the summer of 1991, the killing had escalated to one person each week. Dahmer was not racial biased in his murders and killed victims from different racial backgrounds. His arrest came after he lured Tracy Edwards into his home from where he was forced into the bedroom using a knife. He managed to run off and alert the police who found pictures of dead bodies and dismembered limbs. The serial killer’s days had come to an end.
The social control theory
The social control theory is based on the idea that everybody has the capabilities of committing a crime, a state that would be influenced by their psychological state of mind. Jeffrey Dahmer grew as an intensely troubled child in an environment that fueled his loneliness a condition that escalated in his adulthood. For this, it is clear that parental upbringing is important in facilitating the development of a child’s social skills. Jeffrey lacked the socialization bond from his parents and other people in his life. It is clear that Dahmer was ignored by many and developed a mechanism of viewing himself as an outsider not wanted by the society. This loneliness coupled with the feelings of rejection prompted him in committing monstrous murders, necrophilia, and cannibalism. The theory of social control suggests that an individual may be drawn away from committing murder by having close relations with others thus deterring them for acting as criminal. Dahmer lacked this and had a void in his loneliness which he filled by dismembering animals, an act perfected in his crimes. Social bonds are therefore important in the childhood socialization as they can lead to the development of a composed psychological state of mind (Weatherby et al., 2009).
A review of Jeffrey Dahmer’s murder leads us to categorize him as an organized killer. Organized killers are considered to be highly methodical, and having planned each step of the murder process. In this case, Dahmer planned his murder well, lured the victims to his home only to drug them and later kill them. His acts were never discovered for a long time nor suspected. At one time when the victim had escaped, Dahmer used his charming lies and the victims was handed right back to him by the police themselves. Dahmer can also be considered as a lust killer. This refers to a killer who obtains sexual gratification from the increased amount of mutilation from the victims. Jeffrey would continue with mutilation long after the victims had died (Higgs, 2012).
Higgs, T. (2012). Jeffrey Dahmer: Psychopathy and Neglect. Regis University Theses.
Silva, A., Ferrari, M., & Leong, G. (2002). The Case of Jeffrey Dahmer. Journal of Forensic Science.
Strubel, A. (2007). Jeffrey Dahmer: His Complicated, Comorbid, Psychopathologies and Treatment Implications. The New School Psychological Bulletin.
Weatheby, G., Buller, D., & McGinnis, K. (2009). The Buller-McGinnis MOdel of Serial Homicidal Behavior. Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research and Education.
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