At this time, the FBI had already dealt with many serial killer cases, but Jeffrey Dahmer forced them to modify their profiling methods, as he represented a new type of killer. Indeed, Jeffrey Dahmer is what we nowadays call a mixed serial killer, that is to say a serial killer that is both organized and unorganized.
Elements of organization
Elements of unorganization
- He seemed totally normal
- Socially integrated
- His apartment was always clean
- Used con approach with victims
- The contact scene is different from the crime scene
- No body found
- Demonstrated that he could control his impulses: he did not take unnecessary risks, payed attention to blend in and would not have killed a victim when there was a risk to get caught (one day his grandmother came in his room while he was with a future victim. He did not kill this young man)
- He managed to avoid detection at least five times
- Was not depressed or suicidal and would take pleasure from his actions
- No remorse, except for the first kill (but it bothered him that he felt remorse)
- He knew how to compartmentalize his life
- Criminal escalation: at one point, he could not control his fantasy and he was controlled by his impulses.
- He does not get pleasure from the kill, but the post mortem acts performed on the corpses
- Passive aggressive, paranoiac and narcissistic personality
It is clear that Jeffrey Dahmer had a real organized tendency in his approach of the victims, as well as for his personality traits. What makes him different is that he did not enjoy the killing or suffering of his victims. Most of the organized serial killers like to control their victims by taking the power over life and death over their victims and by making them suffer. Jeffrey, at the contrary, the kill was just a means to an end, which he had even avoided had he found a way to.
What distinguishes him from others is that all his fantasy was based in necrophiliac acts and cannibalism that he would perform once the victim was dead. It is only after the death of his victims that he would start enacting his fantasy.
Also, in their study of serial killer backgrounds, the FBI noticed common themes in the childhood of serial killers, like important sexual, physical or psychological abuse, poor economic backgrounds and the so called McDonad Triad (late bed wetting and passion for fires and cruelty towards animals). Jeffrey Dahmer did not have any of these characteristics, he grew up in a comfortable economic environment, and his parents never abused him. He was not cruel to animals and was particularly attracted by fires. No late bed wetting was noticeable either.
According to Robert Ressler, the most interesting feature for Jeffrey Dahmer was his appearance. Absolutely nothing would tell that he could become violent. In a certain way, he wasn’t, and he even said repetitively that he did not like violence or suffering.
Lionel Dahmer: « it’s amazing how he could sit there and appear like he’s clean cut, nice jacket, talking very hopefully about his job, intelligent. It’s amazing how much a human being can hide from another »
If Tracy Edwards had not escaped that night, and alerted the police, if the two policemen had not searched the apartment (like some of their colleagues earlier), Jeffrey Dahmer would certainly have been accountable for many more victims, without anyone even suspecting anything.