Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Southeast Asia's Serial Killers (part seven): The three faces of Ryan, the "Smiling Serial Killer"

Have a look at Very Idham Henyansyah, aka Ryan, aka The Smiling (or Singing) serial killer. These three pictures illustrate the mind of a murderer who shook Indonesia in 2008 and still creates debate and talk among the population and in the media.

Ryan, the seducer

Ryan, the guiltless

Ryan, the angry

On July 12, 2008, mysterious bags containing a head, a torso and other body parts were found in the streets of Jakarta. The autopsy revealed these body parts belonged to Heri Santoso, a 40 year old businessman. In only a few days, the police was able to link the murder to a man called Ryan, and decided to arrest him. Ryan confessed quickly to the murder. What was supposed to be an easy case to close rapidly transformed in one of the most infamous and most mediatized murder case in Indonesian history.

Indeed, in addition to confessing to Heri Santoso's murder, Ryan also confessed to another 10 murders he committed earlier in his life, when he was still living in his hometown, which put his victim count to 11.

Ryan was born and raised in Jombang, a religious town where most of the people live from agriculture. He had poor relations with his siblings and his parents, and mostly kept to himself. Still today he pretends that he witnessed his parents living their affairs in the family house, and that his older sister was forced to marry a middle aged man that also happened to be the mother's boyfriend. But his parents deny these accusations, stating that Ryan started showing signs of mental distress at age 10. None of Ryan's accusations have been proven until now, and it is in the debate whether he really witnessed his parents having extra-marital relationships in front of him or not. But one thing is sure, is that very early on, Ryan grew increasingly violent, and was also very introverted, having no one to turn to when in need to express his feelings or the emotions he was experiencing.

The fact that he was homosexual and had more soft and feminine features surely did not help. School was the only place where he felt himself and comfortable, but even there he was rejected because he was more "girly" than the other boys. He was a very good student, with good grades and good behavior. But even if he got accepted later on in a faculty of medicine, he had to renounce to his project due to a lack of money and financing.

At the same time, he met a religious leader (who was also an unmarried young man at the time) and Ryan faced another blow when this man entered in a heterosexual marriage. This event certainly increased his frustration and anger to a boiling level, and became the trigger to his future killings. He would kill his first victims within a year of their separation. In only on few months, he would bury 10 victims in his backyard, most of them men aged 24 to 34, and a woman with her 3 year old daughter.

Ryan was diagnosed  as a sociopath with anti-social personality disorder, as he was charming, manipulative (by using a combination of intimidation and sexual seduction), and guiltless. To this diagnosis, I would also add that he presented a certain number of characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder. I don't know if he believed he was better than the others, or if he fantasized about power, success or attractiveness. But he certainly enjoyed the notoriety that his actions, his book and album gave him, and, when interviewed, showed signs of pride saying that his actions had some positive effects on the people, and might help society change. He definitely shows signs that he thinks he is special, and almost that society should thank him for killing his victims as his actions point out society's dysfunctions.

An other reason for me to think he is narcissistic lies in the center of the debate around his case. He pretended from the start that he killed all these people because they were pressuring him for sex, and would then use hurtful words.
"Zacky and Aksony (2 of the victims) did not only strike me with hurtful words, but their hands groped my vital organs (sex) so that I would date them. I hated their acts. Especially when my homosexuality was used as a reason for them to satiate their lust"
"Most of the victims were gay men like me. They made me feel cheap. I got angry, we fought and I accidentally killed them"
"Not all gay men are promiscuous. Love is very important to me. It makes me furious when people say there's no such thing as loyalty in the gay world"

Now it is not uncommon for men in Southeast Asian to entertain sexual relationships with other men, even when they claim to be heterosexual. At the same time, it happens often, especially in the Muslim communities, that gay men live out gay relationships during their early adulthood, but when the family pressure to get married gets too strong, suppress their homosexuality to become an exemplar Muslim husband and son. But I seems a bit suspicious to me that the same pattern, especially like this one, would repeat itself 11 times other than in his mind and fantasy.

The reality is that we will never know if Ryan was really involved in a relationship with the religious leader, and really was, as he pretends, the victim of sexual advances of his victims, who started being demeaning to his refusal to have a sexual relationship with them. According to Ryan, he killed Santoso after he offered Ryan money and a car to have sex with his boyfriend. Unfortunately, we will never hear the other side of the story.

Do you want my opinion? I think that his claims might be far from what really happened. We have to consider a certain number of elements:

- according to him, it was often jealousy or the unwanted romantic overtures of others that drove him to kill. I have never heard of a serial killer who killed people because they wanted to date him or asked him for sexual relations. However, a more common reason, which makes more sense to me considering Ryan's personality, could be that he was the one who came on to his victims for sex, but got frustrated and angry when his victims would reject him.

- take the murder of Grady Adams, a witness testified he saw Ryan the next day wearing Grady Adam's tee-shirt... this is something you do when you like the person, not because you hate them. I cannot find any other reason to this, especially as Ryan specifically said he had no interest in his victim's belongings, and that he would bury them with the bodies. So he was not wearing Grady's tee-shirt as a trophy, but more as a sign of belonging, to show off and prove that they were having an intimate relationship.

- in a way he reminds me of Aileen Wuornos, who also pretended to the last day that she killed her victims in self defense. I think she really was convinced of it, shoving the real motive of her crimes deep into her unconscious. In Ryan's case, he probably tried to give himself more credit and notoriety by trying to portray himself more like a victim, not being able to cope with the reality of his actions. "It's about disappointments in my life. I'm tired of the shackles in my life, tired of the society I live in, a society full of strict rules. I want to be myself. I want to be the best in my life". A difference though is that Aileen Wuornos, mostly because of her erratic behavior throughout the trial, was not able to convince anyone. Ryan, during his trial, in a way succeeded in manipulating the public opinion (else he would not have gotten a record and book deal) in believing that he committed his crimes because he was first and foremost a victim of society. Moreover, when a person feels like being the victim in most of the situations, it just tends to show the low self-esteem they suffer from.

- his violent behavior might originate from a very low self-esteem and self worth, for which he compensated by creating a new him who would fight to be able to be whoever he decides to be and do what ever he decides to do. But in a way he over-compensated as he did that with a total disregard for others and by expressing his frustration and anger through violent behavior. "It comes to not wanting to be put down and abused by others, and to fight for myself in whatever way I can".

Monday, April 15, 2013

MacDonald Triad as predictor of violent behavior: myth or reality?

In 1963, J.M. MacDonald proposed a set of characteristics that could predict future violent behaviors. His research consisted in making a connection between violent behaviors and characteristics such as cruelty to animals, fire setting and enuresis (bed wetting) past the age of five.

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D and expert in forensic psychology, in her article "Triad of Evil: Do three simple behaviors predict the murder-prone child", describes how this "triad" of sociopathy came to life from a research that was made on a group that was "small and unrepresentative" and became a keystone of behavioral analysis when it was given credit by the FBI profilers, but still without conclusive empiric substance.

In a more recent study, Kori Ryan was able to contradict the previous studies. "Ryan performed the most extensive review of the literature to date and found little empirical support for the triad's predictive value." (Katherine Ramsland)

Let's study the elements of the triad separately:

- Fire setting: the fascination with setting fire can have several origins
*"Fire setting is, in its simplest form, an act of curiosity. Children strive to learn and do this by exploring their environment. Fire makes an attractive draw because of its beauty, color, movement, and mystery. This attraction is compounded by the ceremonial and celebratory ways in which we introduce it to children (birthday candles, holidays, religious ceremonies, etc.). I is also used for functional tasks by adults, but often not with an eye for safe practice (igniting cigarettes, barbecues, fireworks, etc.). As children learn they learn a great deal by what they see. They see fire as an integral part of our life, but often not something that their caregiver presents as a dangerous item. Without clear information to put fire into a proper perspective (a dangerous tool in the household), children may explore fire and ignition items without parental guidance. Children may not have a negative experience right away and continue to grow bolder in their experimentation. This can lead to more dangerous behaviors and increase the potential for problems." (source: 
* "Children who experience some type of stress or crisis in their lives may also turn to fire as an "acting-out behavior". In some ways, it may be a form of communication when they are otherwise not able to put their crisis into words or no one seems to be listening." (source: 
* According to "Singer and Hensley (2004), fires etting is theorized to be a less severe or first shot at releasing aggression. Extensive periods of humiliation have been found to be present in the childhoods of several adult serial killers. These repetitive episodes of humiliation can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which need to somehow be released in order to return to a normal state of self-worth." (Source:

- Animal cruelty: it is also believed that many serial killers tend, before killing people, to kill animals as a "training and testing" phase of their fantasy. Children or teenagers building up anger, rage, and humiliation would take it out on animals as they are more easy to control to get back to the people who made them suffer.  "Wright and Hensley (2003) named three recurring themes in their study of five cases of serial murderers: as children they vented their frustrations because the person causing them anger or humiliation was too powerful to take down; they felt as if they regained some control and power over their lives through the torture and killing of the animals; they gained the power and control they needed to cause pain and suffering of a weaker, more vulnerable animal - escalating to humans in the future." (Source:

- Enuresis: "the idea that bedwetting has anything to do with psychological maladjustment, and certainly with later antisocial or violent tendencies, or plays some part in a triad of predictors, has been described as a destructive myth entirely discredited.... However, some authors continue to speculate that enuresis may be related to fire setting and animal cruelty in some way. One argument is that because persistent bed-wetting beyond the age of five can be humiliating for a child, especially if he or she is belittled by a parental figure or other adult as a result, this could cause the cild to use fire setting or cruelty to animals as an outlet for his or her frustration." (Source:

Without having any empirical study or statistics to confirm my statements, I still do believe that there is something interesting with this triad, but not the way it was presented until now. It is not because a person presents these three characteristics that he/she will become a violent sociopath, and at the other end, you can become a violent sociopath without presenting those signs.

These characteristics are consequences of deeper problems, not the root. It is like when you are sick: if you just focus of the symptoms you won't get rid of the problems, you need to tackle the origin of what causes theses symptoms. Of course many violent sociopath present these symptoms as they are the symptoms of deeper problems caused by abuse, humiliation, abandonment, rejection...

One statistics is certain without having to make extensive research: no serial killer was born and raised in a stable, loving and empowering family. So my opinion is that if you want to practice criminal behavior analysis, you should not rely on this triad, as it only focuses on possible symptoms caused by the real elements that should be studied, which are the real wounds that are created on the child's mind and how the child copes with these moral, emotional, physical and psychological wounds that are inflicted to him.
So as much many serial killers count fire setting in their resume, the act of setting fires cannot be, in itself, a precursor to violent behavior.

I think the main problem is that most of the studies in terms of bed-wetting, fire setting and animal cruelty are made on people who already committed offenses, and if we would ask the questions to a broader pool of people (offenders and non offenders), we could end up being surprised. Let me explain this by using myself as an example: I have always been attracted and fascinated by flames. Even though I have never pulled up the courage to set fire to more than a cigarette or a candle, I have always wondered how it would feel like to see the destructive power of fire. At the same time, when I was a child, I used to kill baby animals, not as a release of anger, but I wanted to take over the parent's job and feed them and having the pride of raising them from baby to adult birds and see them leave the nest. Although it seems kind of creepy to think about it now, I just wanted to do something good and be proud of myself, and instead I was killing baby animals (I do realize now how cruel that was). And I also suffered from enuresis even through my teenage years: I had, and sometime still have, a recurrent dream of having sexual intercourse, and at the same time as I was reaching an orgasm in the dream, I would wake up, but too late to reach the toilets. (Thank the gods, it happens rarely now, and I wake up soon enough to go to the toilets). 

After having said that, I am very far from being a serial killer, as it even is difficult for me to kill an insect. On the other hand, the serial killers presenting the three characteristics are rare, and there are even serial killers who present none of them. So I am wondering how the percentages presented by offenders in terms of the MacDonald Triad would fare if compared to the same studies made on the general population?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

10 Traits of Serial Killers

This post is entirely originating from "The Serial Killer Files: the who, what, where, how and why of the world's most terrifying murders" from Harold Schelchter that I can only recommend to everyone. In his book, Harold Schlechter refers to a conference given by Robert Ressler and John Douglas (two notorious FBI special agents from the Behavioral Science Unit and pillars of offender profiling) during the 10th Triennal Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences held at Oxford, England, in September 1984. These traits are the result of their study and analysis of 36 jailed offenders.

1) Most are single white males.

2) They tend to be smart, with an IQ of "bright normal".

3) Despite their intelligence, they do poorly in school, have spotty employment records, and generally end up as unskilled workers.

4) They come from deeply troubled families. Typically, they have been abandoned at an early age by their fathers and grow up in broken homes dominated by their mothers.

5) There is a long history of psychiatric problems, criminal behaviors and alcoholism in their families.

6) As children, they suffer significant abuse - sometimes psychological, sometimes physical, often sexual. Such brutal mistreatment instills them with profound feelings of humiliation and helplessness.

7) Because of their resentment toward their distant, absent, or abusive fathers, they have a great deal of trouble with male authority figures. Because they were dominated by their mothers, they have a powerful hostility towards women.

8 ) They manifest psychiatric problems at an early age and often spend time in institutions as children.

9) Because of their extreme social isolation and a general hatred of the world and everyone in it (including themselves), they often feel suicidal as teenagers.

10) They display a precaucious and abiding interest in deviant sexuality and are obsessed with fetishism, voyeurism, and violent pornography.

Personal note:
These traits represent a general image of serial killers, but it does not mean that every single serial killer presents these traits, nor that people who present these traits are or will be serial killers.

Serial Killer vs Mass Murderer vs Spree Killer

A serial killer is usually defined as a person who kills 3 or more people in 3 separate events with a "cooling off" period between the killings. The FBI profilers tend to disregard the "3 or more people" for good reasons. Indeed, some killers are caught after their first or second killing, but have characteristics that would indicate that they have the potential of killing more people (see Southeast Asia's Serial Killers part two). But in this definition, the separate events and the "cooling off" period are essential to consider a series of murders as serial killings. Often, but not always, there is a deep sexual element to the series. This element can be as obvious as the rape of the victim, or at the contrary subtle such as the sexual arousal of the offender in some other practices (sadism, necrophilia...).

Mass murderers are often depicted as "human time bombs". Rightly so, they are often people who literally see their lives completely fall apart (divorce or separation, loss of a job, humiliation or all the above) and are in a sense pushed to their limits. Humiliation and frustration in this case would lead to an overwhelming rage and the mass murderer would "explode in a burst of devastating violence that wipes out everyone within rage" (Harold Schlechter, The Serial Killer Files). Having lost total control over their lives, they start blaming everything and everyone for their failure, and decide to take down as many people as possible with them as a revenge to the harm that has been caused to him. Mass murderers are almost always commit suicide, either killing themselves, or committing "suicide by cop".

A spree killer kills 2 or more people in a short period of time, in different locations. As the mass murderer, he has suffered a major loss or a major humiliation, and is so enraged that he is pushed over the limit. The major motivators of spree killers are revenge against society or a desire to prove everyone that they should not be messed with.

Theories of Victimization

These theories are an excerpt of L. Siegel's book Criminology, a must have if you are interested in learning about the processes and motivations leading to criminal behavior as well as the trends and characteristics of the different types of crimes.

Victim Precipitation Theory.

This theory states that some people may actually initiate the confrontation that eventually leads to their injury or death. Victim precipitation may be active or passive.
- active precipitation occurs when a victim acts provocatively, uses threats or fighting words, or even attacks first.
- passive precipitation occurs when the victim exhibits some personal characteristics that unknowingly either threatens or encourages the attacker. It may also occur when the victim belongs to a group whose mere presence threatens the attacker's reputation, status or economic well-being. Some research indicate that passive precipitation is related to power.

Lifestyle Theory.

People may become victims because their lifestyle increases their exposure to criminal offenders. The basis of this theory is that crime is not a random occurrence but rather a function of the victim's lifestyle.
People who have high risk lifestyles (drinking, taking drugs, getting involved in crimes) maintain a much greater risk of victimization. Ex: young runaways living on the street. One element of lifestyle that may place people at risk for victimization is ongoing involvement in a criminal career.

Deviant Place Theory.

The more people are exposed to dangerous places, the more likely they will become victim of crime and violence.

Routine Activity Theory.

The volume and distribution of predatory crime are closely related to the interaction of 3 variables that reflect the routine activities
- the availability of suitable targets (1)
- the absence of capable guardians (2)
- the presence of motivated offenders (3)

Victim Types

It is not an easy matter to interact with victims. For that, you have to take in account and adapt to their emotions, their psychological state, and to the age of the victim. If you don't, you will only develop incomprehension, tension, conflict and mistakes. It is also very important for you to recognize what type of victim you have to deal with (still alive or unfortunately deceased) as you will not react the same way with each of them.

1) The real victims: they say the whole truth, with the content and the form that go with it. These are very rare, just because of the psychological defense mechanisms a victim develops to cope with the suffering, pain, and shame caused during the victimization process.

2) The fake victims: they are pathological liars, also very rare. But they do exist, so please be careful to detect them when you meet them.

3) The real-fake victims: people who are capable of lying all the way through, but who are really suffering inside. The victim wants to get attention by making up terrible facts to cover up a real suffering that was not revealed, recognized and treated.

4) The direct victims: those who were directly and emotionally involved in the victimization process.

5) The collateral victims: all the people who have an emotional link to the direct victim (family, friends, close entourage of the victim, but also the mother or father or wife or child of a serial killer that did not know what was happening, the girlfriend of a rapist...)

6) The indirect victims: people who belong to the same professional or institutional circle as the direct victim (when a policeman is killed, all policemen mourn).

7) The unknown victims: when the victims are unknown to the offender, they teach us that the offender and the victim probably didn't know each other, and that the motivation was probably the fruit of a fantasy and/or pathology.

8 ) The known victims: they teach us that the offender and the victim probably knew each other and that the motivation is a classic one (passion, greed, revenge) that can be uncovered in a more classical investigation.

9) The serial victims: the victims and the offender probably did not know each other.

10) The single victims: the victim and the offender probably knew each other.

11) The low-medium-high exposure victims: this concept of victim exposure gives vital insight on how the offender committed his crime. This concept will be developed more in details in a later post.

12) The selected victims: refer to an organized offender who targets specific victims because they fit his motivations.

13) The total opportunity victims: refer to an unorganized offender who targets his victims for irrational reasons or according to his own pathological logic. (example: because some voices told him to).

14) The partial opportunity victims: refer to a mixed offender, with an organized or unorganized dominant according to the case, and whose motivation will be partly logical and clear, but also partly pathological and/or fantasy focused and/or irrational.

Here I would like to make a comment and remind that nobody is victim "by chance" (see the post on Victimology Principles), and that even in the case of a total opportunity victim, there is a link between the victim and the offender (what the victim represents in the offender's mind, or the environment represents to the offender)

15) The physical victims: people who have suffered from wounds, burns, broken bones and any physical injury.

16) The psychological victims: people who have suffered from heavy negligence, mental cruelty, bullying, important lack of affection, moral harassment and other mental and psychological attacks.

17) The psychosomatic victims: people who suffer so much on a psychological level that you can see it on the physical body, or that have endured so much physical pain that they also keep very deep psychological wounds.

Victimology Principles

1) There is always a reason why victims become victims.

The first and main principle of victimology may seem unfair or even unrealistic to some (especially people who have already victimized) is that there is always a reason why victims have become victims.
- Indeed, when you consider the mind of a criminal, there is something he sees in the victim that motivated him to act. For the criminal, there is either a selection or at least a negative perception of the potential victim, what will trigger for any reason the acting out, with or without mobile.
- Victims are never victims by chance (or rather misfortune), whether there is a mobile (vengeance, greed, passion...) or not (paranoia where the offender thinks the victim persecutes him, sexual fantasies where the offender will select specific types...).
- Victims sometimes become victims due to their own vulnerability. Some studies have shown that a person who has already suffered a trauma, who has already been a victim, or has not done anything to overcome the trauma, are more likely to be victimized again than others.

2) Who look alike come together, complete and recognize each other.

- That applies to everyone: you wouldn't stay with someone a long time with someone you don't share common interests or elements of complementary. Therefore, it will be easier for a person who has been victimized to turn to other victims who would be more understanding, would be able to help and accept this person. Moreover, the way other people look at the person who has been victimized is very important to the victim.
- A victim has a tendency to take some distance with the family and friends because it is hard for this person to handle that the loved ones are suffering for the person who has been victimized. The victim doesn't want to cause any suffering, and this suffering is just adding up to the victim's own suffering.
- At the same time, when someone is feeling depressed, "normal" and happy people disturb, they are a reminder that the victim is not "normal", failures and sad. The victim will therefore take some distances and try to get closer to those more alike who will be able to turn the bad emotions around into better ones.
- People don't come together by chance or by misfortune: in general, a dominant person needs a submissive one, as much as a submissive one needs a dominant one for example. Take domestic violence, very often the victim is in a state of mind leading up to the violence, and very often thinks that the beating was deserved. I am not saying that the victim deserves the beating, nobody deserves it. What I am trying to say is that some people think so bad of themselves that they meet people who do to them what they think they deserve (does that make sense?). This explains (partly) why even if the victim leaves the violent partner, it is only to meet a new one that is also violent and abusive.
- Once someone is getting used to lean towards certain types of people or profiles of people, the victim develops the ability to decode people and behaviors with similar characteristics.

3) Every offender has been a victim, and every victim may become an offender

- The judicial logic and practice tends to focus towards the offenders, the people who are causing harm to society. However, people are not born criminals, they become criminals. The causes and origins of criminal behavior are always multi-factorial, and all these factors operate in a very dynamic and interactive life process where, step by step, people become offenders.
- Anyone can become an offender if: 1) their past and personality predispose them, 2) if the circumstances are favorable, 3) an event triggers the acting out.
- But as much as every offender has been a victim of some sort at some point in their life, every victim does not necessarily become an offender.

Jeffrey Dahmer: Introduction

On May 21st, 1960 at 4:34 pm in a Milwaukee hospital, when Lionel and Joyce Dahmer looked for the first time at their son Jeffrey, they were far from suspecting that he would one day be one of the most mediatized persons in history in his category: serial killer.

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, also nicknamed "the Cannibal" or « the Monster of Milwaukee », spent most of his life battling his morbid fantasies. But at the end, it is those impulses that will win, guiding him on a path of cold blood killings in order to satisfy his own sexual needs.

17 young men aged 14 to 17 were killed in this rampage. But the horror only got discovered when Tracy Edwards, another young man Jeffrey Dahmer brought to his apartment, succeeded to run away on July, 22nd 1991. It is then that America and the whole world heard for the first time the shocking story: human remains, men skeletons, a heart, human skin, a blue barrel (used to make the bodies disappear by dissolving them in acid), pictures taken at various stages of dismemberment… the list of parts of human bodies recovered at 213, Oxford Apartments revealed a morbid story. Even 20 years later, many people still try to understand how it came to that.

Apparently full of remorse, Jeffrey Dahmer would help the police to identify the victims, would accept being interviewed by psychiatrists. FBI profilers, by any person who would be able to answer a question he asked himself: why?

Many years before Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes, the FBI developed techniques to create profiles on the psychology and character of serial killers. But Jeffrey Dahmer was nothing like the serial killers the FBI had encountered until then. Through a detailed analysis of statistics of serial killers, they noticed that many serial killers had similar backgrounds: coming from economically and socially unstable families, childhood abuse, the Mc Donald Triad (fascination for fire, late bed wetting and cruelty against animals). Neither of these elements defines Jeffrey Dahmer: he was raised in a comfortable environment (his parents had good and stable jobs, and never abused any of their children), he was never interested with fire or cruelty towards animals (even though he liked dismembering animals, he used only road kills that were already dead), and didn't have any bed wetting problems. It is thus important to understand how Jeffrey Dahmer went from being a smiling and playful child to a introvert teenager fascinated by dismemberment, to finally become a serial killer with a very elaborate fantasy.

Jeffrey Dahmer: Biography

A normal childhood

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21st, 1960 in Milwaukee. He was like any other child, smiling, loving, extroverted, and curious, with a great fascination for animals. He will develop bonds with his neighbor as well as the dog his parents bought. His parents adored him and were proud of him.

But his mother, Joyce, had a hard time during the pregnancy, which had repercussions on her behavior. She suffered from depression, and had terrible mood swings. Even though the couple moved to live with Lionel Dahmer’s mother, they suffered from these mood swings and argued often.

Just before his 4th birthday, Jeffrey suffered from a double hernia. This surgery left him with a strange feeling that his was left exposed. His was very scared of this intervention, to know that strangers would go and explore his body. He didn't understand, and nobody felt necessary to give him an explanation. After this, he became more reserved, shy, but only for a short period.

Meanwhile, he discovered remains of small rodents under the house. Very soon he would develop a particular interest in these remains.

As he was 6 years old, his mother Joyce gave birth to his little brother, David. Jeffrey would later pretend that this event didn’t affect him, and that the two brothers were never close. But Joyce and Lionel did spend a lot of time with David. Furthermore, Lionel worked very long hours in his laboratory. He spend Jeffrey’s first years moving for his work and his studies, putting these first in his priorities, before his family. But at David’s birth, Lionel had finished his studies, and they moved in their own house in Bath, Ohio. This house was surrounded by woods where Jeffrey could disappear and create his own imaginary world.

 The first transformation

Even if at the start his childhood seemed normal, the end of it, and his teenager years did not go that well. He became more and more reserved and socially awkward. The feelings of isolation he had during his surgery would be once and for all permanent.

It is also during this time that he would discover he was homosexual and had his first experience with one of his neighbors. Later on he would qualify this experience (kissing and caresses) as negative, disappointing and lacking pleasure. Furthermore, considering the time period, it was very difficult for him to feel self actualized through the discovery of his homosexuality. Society was condemning it and he had nobody he could talk to about it. He would be more and more to himself and would increasingly keep his life more secretive.

« In the township where I was at, homosexuality was the ultimate taboo. It was never discussed, never. I had desires to be with someone, but never met anyone that was gay, that I know of. So that was sexually frustrating. » Jeffrey Dahmer

From then on, according to his father Lionel, he would also develop a strong inferiority complex. As he was 10 years old, his mother had to be treated for serious anxiety problems, which would be the downfall of Lionel and Joyce’s relationship.

 Birth of the fantasy

During his teenager years, his fascination for animals would change, becoming more and more interested and curious as to how they looked like on the inside. Thus he began to collect road kills and to dismember them in the back of their house.

As he was 15/16 years old, he would also develop thoughts becoming progressively obsessions mixing sex with violence. His fantasy started as laying down next to the unconscious body of another man.

He would later describe an episode where three of his classmates attacked him without reason, just because he was in their way. This happened when at the same time the relationship between his parents went downhill. When they would argue and fight, Jeffrey would find shelter in the woods where he would hit the trees with a stick.

In high school, he was considered as a strange boy, having no friends, but who was seeking attention by playing the clown. He had the reputation to play pranks, which gave birth to the expression “doing the Dahmer”. The biggest prank had been when he managed to persuade the authorities to give him a tour of the Vice President of the United States of America’s office at the White House (usually closed to the public) during a school trip.

But his fantasies will become more and more powerful, and Jeffrey would start drinking to try to escape them. The alcohol only contributed in pushing him even further aside from society, his classmates being aware of his drinking and mocking him.

At age 16, he will act on his fantasy for the first time. He noticed a jogger who used to take the same path every day. One day, he decided to wait for him with a baseball bat to knock him unconscious and lay next to the inanimate body, but that day, the jogger did not show up. Jeffrey would not go back to that spot to wait for his victim.

 The first kill

Jeffrey graduated High School in Bath, Ohio, in 1976. But his parents were arguing more and more, to end up in a divorce as Jeffrey was almost 18 years old. This was the beginning of a long battle for the custody of his little brother David. When the divorce was pronounced, in 1978, Lionel leaves the family house to move in a motel a few kilometers away. Sometime later, and without saying anything to her ex husband, Joyce decides to move to Wisconsin with David, leaving Jeffrey alone in the house. Once alone, Jeffrey will have all the freedom he needs to give reality to his fantasy.

During the two years before he met Stephen Hicks, Jeffrey had the fantasy to meet a handsome hitchhiker and to take sexual pleasure from him. This fantasy became reality the week Jeffrey was left at home alone.
He was driving back home when he noticed an attractive young man hitchhiking on the side of the road. He stopped and asked him if he was interested to come back with him for a beer and pot. Stephen Hicks accepts. Once in Jeffrey’s room, they drank beers, but Jeffrey quickly realized that Stephen Hicks was not gay. Suddenly, Stephen Hicks decided he wanted to go home, but Jeffrey didn't want him to leave. Panicked, not knowing how he could make him stay, he hit Stephen Hicks on the head then strangled him.
He got scared by what he just had done. He paced for a while, and, while staring at the body, started masturbating. He was sexually aroused by captivity, by knowing he was dominating his victim.

The next day, he had to find a way to get rid of the evidence. He bought a hunting knife, and the next night, opened Stephen Hicks’ abdomen. Aroused by his internal organs, he masturbates again. Finally, he dismembers his victim, bags the body parts in garbage bags, and drops the bags in the car trunk to dispose of them at the municipal landfill. But while he was driving, he got pulled over by a police car. After fining Jeffrey for driving too much on the left, the police let him drive away. Jeffrey decides then to drive back home and change strategy.

He took Stephen Hicks’ head, cleaned it and laid it down on the floor of the bathroom, masturbated again. Then let the body decompose during two and a half years. As he came back from Miami and the army, he picked up the bones, crushed them and scattered them in the woods.

 Enrolling in the army

After his murder, Jeffrey feels very bad about what he had done. He has remorse, but his fantasy continues to haunt him. He will then sink himself into alcohol. He will be arrested several times for behaviors and noise nuisance under drunken state. Lionel, his father, tries to help him, and takes him to AA meetings, to meetings with psychologists. He will even register his son to Ohio State University. But Jeffrey won’t show much interest for studies, and spends his time drinking. He will be dismissed after the first semester.

Lionel decided then that the only way for his son to go back to a normal life was to enroll him in the army. As for every decision his father made for him, Jeffrey accepted passively his enrolling in the army professionally. Starting his new career in December 1978, he was trained as a doctor, where he learned a lot about human anatomy. He was then transferred to a division based in Germany.

Even though he showed a great interest in his job, he continued drinking, what put him in a lot of trouble. He was asked to go to counsel therapy. This going nowhere, he is then asked to enter a program for alcoholic rehabilitation. But Jeffrey refuses the treatment and stated he had no desire to control his alcohol problem.

Therefore he was transferred to Fort Jackson, USA, on March 24, 1981 and would be discharged from the army on March 26 of the same year.

 After the army

A short time after being discharged, Jeffrey decided that instead of going back to his parents, to settle down in Miami, as he was tired of the cold. He found a part time job as versatile worker. But the money was not enough, as he continued to drink. He ended up quickly without a place to live, and was later forced to move back in with his parents in Ohio, what he did in September 1981. Three month later, after having been arrested again for driving while being intoxicated, he moved out from his father’s house to move in with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin.

 West Allis

For a few months, life becomes quieter, until he pulled down his pants in front a group of people in 1982.
He then managed to keep his behavior under control for almost four years. He stopped drinking, went to church with his grandmother, tried to fight the best he could what he thought were immoral homosexual impulses, until he got arrested again in 1986 for masturbating in front of two young men. He would then be on probation for a year.

After four years of success repressing his fantasy, Jeffrey went to the public library. A man came to him to give him a note where he proposed some favors to Jeffrey. Jeffrey refused the offer, but it became a turning point in his life: this event would awaken his sexual fantasy again. He started drinking again, and his fantasy became stronger every day.

He started by stealing a mannequin in a store. He looked for a means to satisfy his fantasy without hurting anyone. But the mannequin was not very fulfilling.

One day, as he was going through the newspaper, he saw the obituary for the death of a 18 year old man. He went to the morgue, saw the body, and discovered that the young man was very attractive. He became so aroused that he ran to the toilet to masturbate. He then decided to take the body back to his home, but as he tried to dig into the ground, realized that the ground was too hard. He abandoned the project.

He started going to gay saunas (place where gay people go to have anonymous sexual encounters), where he would start experimenting. Indeed, most of the men he met there would practice sodomy, and Jeffrey did not like it much. He wanted to find a way to spend a night next to a man, play with him, without having to practice sodomy. He would then try drugging his partners, mixing sleeping pills with their drinks. As they were lying unconscious, Jeffrey would lay down next to them, listening to the sounds of their bodies, their stomach, to their heartbeats. But one day, one of his partners did not tolerate the mix and had to be hospitalized for a whole week. Jeffrey was then banned from the establishment.

At the same time, he discovers gay bars and discos. One evening, he meets a young man in front of one of these discos, and invites him to spend the night at a hotel. This young man’s name was Steven Tuomi. Jeffrey did not remember anything until he woke up the next morning with Steven lying next to him, dead. Horrified by the scene, even more because he booked the room under his name, he decided to go and buy a suitcase, brought it back to the room, and placed the body of the victim.

Once back to his grandmother’s house, he waited patiently for her to go to church to take care of the body. He took his hunting knife, opened Steven Tuomi’s body, masturbated, quartered the body and placed the meat in trash bags. He wrapped the skeleton in old sheets and crushed it with a hammer. All the bags would be taken on the next Monday morning with the rest of the trash. But still he kept the skull that he diluted in bleach to clean it. It didn't work out the way he expected, so he got rid of it.

After this incident, « my moral compass was so out of whack, and the desire, the compulsion, was so strong, that I just continued with that mode » Jeffrey Dahmer

He will, from then on, let go of his impulses, and attract, drug, rape, kill, dismember, two young men: Jamie Doxtator and Richard Guerrero.

During the Summer of 1988, his grandmother asked him to leave her house : she could not stand the stench coming from the basement anymore, as well the late hours Jeffrey would come back home and the fact that he started drinking again.

 North 24th Street

On September 25, 1988, Jeffrey moved into an apartment in North 24th Street in Milwaukee. The very next day, he would already find himself in a dangerous situation.

He offered 50 USD to a young Laotian boy to pose in front of the camera for him. He brought him back to his place, drugged him, but did not perform any violence or sexual act on him. The young man managed to escape and go back home. His parents went immediately to the police and filed a complaint. The police arrested Jeffrey on the count of second degree rape.

The trial took place on January 30th, 1989, where he pleaded guilty. The Assistant of the District Attorney, Gale Shelton, required 5 years prison, and declared during the trial:
« In my judgment it is absolutely crystal clear that the prognosis for treatment of M. Dahmer within the community is extremely bleak… His perception that what he did wrong here was choosing too young a victim, - and that’s all he did wrong – is part of the problem… he appeared to be cooperative and receptive, but anything that goes below the surface indicates that the deep-seated anger and deep-seated psychological problems that he is unwilling or incapable of dealing with. »

Three psychologists examined him, and their conclusions converged in the sense that Jeffrey was a manipulator, resistant and evasive. They all recommended a hospitalization with intense treatment.

Jeffrey had to wait March for the sentence, and until then, he can walk free. This enabled him to meet Anthony Sears, who would be his 5th victim.

He was sentenced to one year in prison (but would still be able to leave it during the day to go to work) with five years of parole. After only ten months, and despite a letter sent by Jeffrey’s father, the judge reduced his sentence and let him out of prison. Lionel asked the judge in his letter the request for intensive treatment to be respected. « I sincerely hope that you might intervene in some way to help my son, who I love very much and for whom I want a better life… this may be our last chance to institute something lasting. » Lionel Dahmer

But it was too late, as Jeffrey was already out of prison and back to live temporarily with his grandmother.

 Oxford Apartments: Highway to hell

On May 24th 1990, Jeffrey moved in 924 North 25th Street, apartment 213, and started his harvest of bodies. Within the next 15 months, he engaged in a rampage that would cost the lives of twelve young men. This madness grew even worse between may and July 1991, when he lost his job at the chocolate factory.

He would then spend all his time and money finding new victims, buying new equipment to make it easier to get rid of their bodies. The only moment he had pleasure was during sex, that would unfortunately implicate murder.

 The end: arrest and trial

On July 22nd 1991, Jeffrey attracted a new victim to his apartment. His name is Tracy Edwards. After attempting in vain drugging Tracy Edwards, he handcuffed him and threatened him with his hunter knife. Jeffrey forced him to go to the bedroom, where Tracy saw the pictures of the dismembered bodies hanging on the wall, and realized the horrible stench emanating from a blue barrel.

It took Edwards only a moment where Jeffrey lost focus to punch him in the face, kick him in the stomach, and run for freedom. He stopped a police patrol and the officers, accompanying him back to the apartment 213, discovered the horrors.

The trial began. The objective of the trial was not to prove Jeffrey Dahmer’s culpability, first because the evidence was speaking for itself, and second because he already pleaded guilty. Nevertheless, three main questions had to be answered:
-          Was he sane?
-          If yes, was he able to understand that what he did was wrong?
-          Was he able to act in respect of the law?

Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced on 15 accounts to 957 years in prison. He expressed remorse, and apologized to the families.

He died on November 28, 1994 at the Colombia Prison in Portage, Wisconsin, beaten to death by a fellow inmate, Christopher Scarver.