Notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Decades later, his crimes continue to exert a grim fascination, as seen in the popularity of Netflix’s new series Monster – Dahmer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
The 10-episode series explores Dahmer’s life while also attempting to shine a light on the lives of those he killed. It’s generated fresh interest in the facts of Dahmer’s case and what motivated him to commit his horrifying crimes. For one person who knew him, the answer to the question of why Dahmer killed comes down to his inability to connect with people in a normal way.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s lawyer said he ‘suffered from abject loneliness’
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After Dahmer was arrested in July 1991, his father Lionel Dahmer hired Gerald Boyle to defend his son. (Boyle also represented Dahmer in his 1989 trial on child molestation charges.) Though Dahmer pleaded guilty by reason of insanity, a jury found that he was sane at the time he committed his crimes. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive terms of life imprisonment in 1992. In 1994, he was murdered by another inmate at the Columbia Correctional Center in Portage, Wisconsin.
Years later, Boyle reflected on his notorious client, comparing him to Halley’s comet.
“He’s an aberration of a human being that comes around about once every 50 years and does a hell of a lot of damage,” Boyle told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in 2011.
“I think he suffered from abject loneliness,” Boyle went on to say. “At one time he thought he was the devil incarnate. He had no idea why he was doing this. He was such a milquetoast,” adding, “He was the wimpiest guy I ever met.”
A psychologist who testified at Dahmer’s trial said he had ‘a difficulty relating to anyone’
Boyle’s words echo those of Samuel Friedman, a court-appointed psychologist who testified at Dahmer’s trial. Friedman didn’t buy Dahmer’s insanity defense. But he did comment on the killer’s relationship with his parents, which he said was a “source of considerable distress” in his childhood.
“There is a picture of a lonely, alienated small boy who has a difficulty relating to anyone,” he said at trial, according to his obituary in the Journal-Sentinel.
Friedman’s daughter Lynn Friedman also commented on his assessment of Dahmer. “My dad told me he was sane,” she said. “He was a lost boy looking for love in all the wrong places.”
The sister of one of Dahmer’s victims said he would ‘have his judgment day’
Whatever the impetus for Dahmer’s crimes, his actions caused unimaginable pain for the victims and their families.
Eddie Smith was one of the men Dahmer killed. “He was a very charismatic person. He walked into a room and you knew he was there,” Eddie’s sister Theresa Smith told the Associated Press in 1992. She attended Dahmer’s trial and did not hold back when sharing her feelings about the man who murdered her younger brother.
″Day after day, I see him sitting there with his little smug smile on his face, and I think, ‘He thinks he’s really accomplished something … and he thinks he’ll get away with literally murder,’” she said. “But I don’t care if it’s him or Michael Jackson, he’s going to have his judgment day.″
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