Jeffrey Dahmer was an abomination even among abominations, to the point that his name has become cultural shorthand for the worst stuff imaginable. After all, you don’t hear a lot of people threatening to “go Pedro Lopez” on anyone’s ass. As such, his life is a treasure trove of horrors to be held up to the light before being immediately dropped as we go, “Ew, ew, ew, ew.”

The Surgery That Changed Everything

Surgery

(Piron Guillaume/Unsplash)

Dahmer was described as a bright and happy child until he was around five years old, when he had hernia surgery. Plenty of people do that without becoming cannibal necrophiliacs, but a clue to his subsequent withdrawn state might lie in his stated belief immediately after surgery that the doctors had cut off his genitals. That, of course, became one of his favorite pastimes.

“Doing a Dahmer”

In school, Dahmer was widely regarded as a weird kid, but he was also well known for his sense of humor, to the point that pulling an outrageous stunt became known as “doing a Dahmer.” His best gag was doing an impression of a man with cerebral palsy, though, so none of these people knew what jokes actually were.

He Stole a Mannequin

Mannequins

(Sara Kurfeß/Unsplash)

Before his killing spree began in earnest, Dahmer tried to satisfy his desire for immobile sexual partners by stealing a mannequin, which he said “didn’t work” and his grandma, who he was living with, soon forced him to throw out anyway. She eventually kicked him out because she was tired of men coming over at all hours of the night and the weird smells that followed their visits, but she didn’t turn him in because she was either the world’s most trusting or loyal grandma.

He Explained the Weird Smells as Tropical Fish

Tropical fish

(Daniel Corneschi/Unsplash)

Grandma wasn’t the only one to get olfactorily suspicious of Dahmer’s activities. The manager of the apartment building he moved into complained three times that Dahmer’s apartment stank, but he just explained it as rotting meat (showing him what “appeared to be steaks”), tropical fish that had died, and a vat of mystery chemicals. It was a lot easier to keep an apartment back then.

Adam Walsh

Some believe it was actually Dahmer who killed Adam Walsh, a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped from a mall in 1981, and not the man who confessed to the murder. There’s a lot of reasons to think otherwise -- Walsh was much younger than Dahmer’s victims, he’d only committed one completely unplanned murder by that time, and you know, another guy confessed -- but the fact that he was in the area at the time and witnesses later recalled seeing someone who looked like him was enough for police to question him about it.

He Tried to Create Sex Zombies

Eventually, Dahmer got tired of “the labors of body disposal” and “stepping over bodies in the bathtub as he showered,” so he experimented with injecting acid or otherwise drilling into the heads of his victims to create passive “zombies” he could keep alive. Clearly, that was one genre of horror film he hadn’t studied, or he’d know that never works out.

He Almost Got Caught

Months before Dahmer was caught, one of these prospective “zombies,” a 14-year-old boy, escaped naked, bleeding, and drugged from Dahmer’s apartment, but he convinced the police they’d just had a “lover’s quarrel.” They were standing in his apartment, surrounded by the smell of “dead tropical fish” while an injured child sat catatonic on a couch, but it was potentially gay, so they were outta there.

He Trusted His Final Victim Too Much

Handcuffs

(niu niu/Unsplash)

Dahmer finally got caught after luring his final victim to his apartment, but instead of drugging or killing him right away, he handcuffed him and forced him to watch The Exorcist III with him. At best, he was dealing with the worst kind of film nerd, so he appeased Dahmer to the point that he allowed him to use the bathroom, at which point he ran screaming into the night, because obviously.

He Was Killed For Being Annoying

Dahmer brought his famous (see: terrible) sense of humor to the clink, dressing up his food as corpses and telling guards “I bite,” until he targeted the wrong guy. He was beaten to death in 1994 by a fellow inmate who didn’t appreciate being the butt of such stupid jokes.

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