Throughout our wrongful death serial series, we’ve covered murder cases where the killer was not charged with wrongful death. While it’s hard to find cases such as these where the victims’ families file for wrongful death against the killer or their estate, there is always a possibility. The case we are about to cover today is one of the few cases where a wrongful death claim was actually filed by the victims’ families — We will be discussing the disturbing case of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Childhood and Upbringing
Dahmer was born on May 21st of 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He spent a majority of his early childhood in Wisconsin before his family relocated to Ohio in 1968. Dahmer was an outcast for a majority of his childhood and adolescence. This could be in part because he enjoyed odd things like dismembering animals and storing their parts in jars. Further, at age 14, he developed a drinking problem. Shortly after, Dahmer also discovered that he was a homosexual fantasizing about other men at the age of 16.
Shortly after his high school graduation in 1978, Dahmer committed his first murder. He picked up a hitchhiker, lured him into his home and then used a dumbbell to bludgeon the victim. Afterwards, Dahmer dismembered the body and dissolved his parts in acid. A year after his first murder, Dahmer enlisted in the army but was honorably discharged after two short years. When he returned to Ohio, he began going to gay bars and bathhouses, regularly administering sleeping pills in his partners (victims) drinks. During this period, Dahmer began to both sexually assault and murder the men that he met.
Dahmer used very cynical and convincing methods when it came to luring his victims. He would promise his victims money in exchange for nude photographs and their time. When they got to his home, Dahmer would proceed to take the images which were discussed, then shortly after drugging his victims, he’d strangle them.
Dahmer had a long reign of murders but was eventually caught in 1991. A potential victim managed to escape Dahmer’s apartment and notified the police of the killer’s intentions. When the police got to the apartment, they found Polaroid photos of Dahmer’s victims, along with human body parts and organs. He was arrested and charged to life in prison. Though Dahmer was supposed to serve a life sentence, the abolishment of the death penalty in 1853 deferred the enforcement of the death penalty. However, Dahmer was killed by a fellow inmate with a metal bar in 1994.
The Wrongful Death Claims
Eleven victim families sued for wrongful death and the Dahmer’s estate was awarded to them. As mentioned previously, it’s hard for these murders to be charged with wrongful death, but this is one of the few cases where a wrongful death was brought to justice.