This was a man whose Wisconsin apartment was full of the remains of his victims with four severed heads found in his kitchen and a further seven skulls found in his bedroom. Diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Dahmer received 15 life sentences after a two-week trial in 1994. A further life sentence came three months later in Ohio for the murder of his first victim, Steven Hicks. The state of Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853 saving Dahmer from death but he was destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars. However, this was not to be his fate.
Jeffrey Dahmer was beaten to death in prison two years later by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver who has claimed he found Dahmer ‘unrepentant’ for his crimes. Scaver, a convicted murderer himself, has recently broken his silence on why he killed Dahmer, an attack that has taken him from the shadows and into the spotlight for being the person who murdered one of America’s most notorious serial killers.
Born in 1960 in Wisconsin, Dahmer was 34 years old when he was killed in 1994. He has been called the Milwaukee Cannibal and the Milwaukee Monster for his crimes and was convicted on a long list of charges including murder, indecent exposure, and disorderly conduct.
Jeffrey Dahmer was 18 when he committed his first murder in 1978 after picking up hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks. Hicks went willingly with Dahmer on the pretense of drinks and listening to music.
Dahmer did not want Hicks to leave; he hit him over the head with a dumbbell and then strangled him. He dismembered his body and buried the remains in the backyard of his family home where he was living at the time. The flesh was dissolved in acid and the bones crushed to ensure he had gotten rid of the body entirely. By the time of his arrest, Dahmer was living in his own apartment with less chance of his activities being discovered.
In July 1991 Dahmer invited three men back to his home, but only one accepted his offer, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards. Once at the apartment, Dahmer forcibly tried to take nude photos of Edwards while threatening him with a knife. Edwards tried to befriend Dahmer and please him, realizing his life was in danger. Edwards found the right moment when Dahmer was distracted, punched him, and ran out the front door.
He flagged down a police car still with a handcuff on his right wrist and told the officers what had happened. Unable to remove the handcuff, Edwards agreed to return to the apartment with them to get the key. When in the apartment the officers noted a large knife, pictures of dismembered bodies, and a foul odor. Dahmer was arrested. Their subsequent search of his apartment revealed the horrific scenes in which Dahmer was living.
Officers found an array of body parts and bones of his victims all around the apartment; in the fridge, on the stove, in plant pots, and in his bedroom. Never before had police officers stumbled across such a crime scene and they are unlikely to ever again. The police officer who first found a severed head inside the fridge was never ever to get past the horrific sight and retired from the force soon after.
Jeffrey Dahmer was unique in that he was very open about his crimes when questioned. He seemed almost relieved to be caught and explained his motives for the killing and the keeping of the remains. He engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism, experimenting with each new victim. He told stunned officers he had a compulsion to kill, a need to keep someone with him and not allow them to leave no matter what it took.
His acts after murdering his victims were to fulfill his fantasies and keep them with him for as long as possible. At his trial, the defense argued that Dahmer was insane while the prosecution argued he was calculating and fully aware of his actions, although both sides agreed on Borderline Personality Disorder. Expert witnesses argued over this state of mind, his compulsion to kill, his motives, and his methods.
At the end of two exhausting weeks for all involved, Dahmer was declared sane and not to be suffering from a mental disorder at the time of each of the murders. He was sent to the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin to begin his sentence.
At around the same time, Christopher Scarver found himself checking into the Columbia Correctional Institution. Scarver was serving life without parole for the murder of a supervisor at the training program where he was working as a trainee carpenter in Wisconsin. He had shot Steve Loham in the head on June 1, 1990, after demanding cash. Mental health issues have been prominent during his time in prison with a number of mental health assessments and a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Up until this year, Scarver has never talked about the events of the murder of Jeffrey Dahmer and another man at the prison, Jessie Anderson. In an interview with the New York Post, he has now spoken about what led him to take Dahmer’s life.
Dahmer was reportedly in solitary confinement for his first year in prison and Scarver claims he was not liked in prison, regularly clashed with other prisoners to the extent that when he came out of solitary he was always escorted by officers wherever he went.
The behavior which bothered Scarver most, he claims, was Dahmer’s habit of taunting other prisoners at meal times by creating limb shapes from his food and using tomato sauce as blood, leaving his creations for people to find.
According to Scarver, Dahmer repeatedly played these ‘sick’ practical jokes which were not appreciated by other prisoners or guards. Scarver was particularly disturbed by Dahmer’s crimes and the details of what he had done to his victims before and after their death.
The Murder of A Serial Killer
In November 1994 Dahmer was left alone by the guards, who along with Christopher Scarver and a third prisoner, Jessie Anderson were tasked with cleaning the bathrooms of the gymnasium. Scarver felt Dahmer and Anderson were laughing at him, sniggered at a joke after poking him in the back.
Their time alone gave Scarver the opportunity to confront Dahmer about a newspaper report on his crimes, asking whether the details of what he had done to his victims were correct. According to Scarver, Dahmer tried to flee clearly sensing danger. Scarver attacked Dahmer with a mental bar crushing his skull. He then moved on to Anderson, attacking him in the same manner.
Dahmer was killed almost instantly from extensive head injuries while Jessie Anderson died two days later. Christopher Scarver claims he spent 16 years in solitary after the killings and complained of cruel and unusual punishment bringing a civil rights actions suit against the Wisconsin prison.
The suit was initially dismissed but upon appeal to the US Court, Scarver and a number of other prisoners with mental health problems were ordered to be relocated. In recent years Scarver has been in talks for a book about the killing of Jeffrey Dahmer, clearly taking advantage of his new-found fame.
Scarver has also claimed he was left alone with Dahmer on purpose with guards hoping something would happen as they ‘hated him and wanted him dead,’ although he would not elaborate further on these claims. Christopher Scarver is now serving a further two life sentences for the murders of Jeffrey Dahmer and Jessie Anderson.
For many involved in the Dahmer case, the lack of the death penalty in Wisconsin was a disappointment. In many other States, Jeffrey Dahmer would have most certainly been put to death for his crimes. For them, his murder just two years after his imprisonment may have been the justice they were looking for. For others, Jeffrey Dahmer has been released from spending the rest of his natural life in prison as punishment for the 17 lives he so brutally took.
A Father’s Story – A deeply personal book written by Lionel Dahmer, the father of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, trying to understand his son’s actions, searching for reasons why he would carry out such unthinkable crimes and what influence he himself may have had as his son grew up. [Read Crime Traveller’s Review]