How Jeffrey Dahmer Was Caught

Dahmer at his initial court appearance (1991)

Jeffrey Dahmer, or the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” was an American serial killer from Wisconsin. Between 1978 and 1991, he killed 17 men and boys. His other crimes consisted of necrophilia, cannibalism, as well as preservation of skeletal remains of his victims . He also preserved heads and genitals of some victims. During the trial between 1991 and 1992, the defense declared Dahmer not guilty due to insanity. He was charged with 15 of the 17 murders due to one of the bodies in the state of Wisconsin never being recovered, and the other occurring in the state of Ohio. The purpose of the trial was not to prove Dahmer guilty or innocent, but to question his mental state at the times. The defense described a defendant that was cooperative and forthcoming with the police during the confession stage. The prosecution described the lengths Dahmer would go to to capture his victims, and hide the evidence after the crime, proving knowledge of wrongdoing. Ultimately, Dahmer was found guilty and sane for all 15 of the charges. He was sentenced to over 900 years in prison.

Two years into his sentence, Dahmer was attacked while doing a cleaning assignment with two other men. One of those men, Christopher Scarver, confronted, and attacked Dahmer with a metal bar from the gym area. On November 28, 1994, the “Milwaukee Cannibal” died. Scarver described the confrontation, “I asked him if he did those things ’cause I was fiercely disgusted. He was shocked. Yes, he was. He started looking for the door pretty quick. I blocked him. He ended up dead. I put his head down,” 

So how was Jeffrey Dahmer stopped on his murderous rampage? By a man named Tracy Edwards. In 1991, Tracy Edwards was a 32 year old man visiting a gay bar in the Milwaukee area. Dahmer approached Edwards, engaging in small talk. Edwards described Dahmer as, “acting normal.” It is debated whether Dahmer offered Edwards money for nude photos and drinks, as per his usual tactic, or just offered to hang out with him and watch a movie. Edwards was with other friends at the time, but they agreed to meet up with Edwards and Dahmer later that night. Dahmer gave them a fake address, and left with Edwards.

Once arriving to Dahmer’s apartment, Edwards noted the fowl odor. Dahmer gave an excuse for this as Edwards tried to leave. He decided to stay with Jeffrey. At some point in the night, Dahmer placed a handcuff on one of Edwards’ wrists, but was unable to latch the other wrist. After a brief tussle, Dahmer held Edwards at knifepoint, ordering him to lie down so he could listen to his heart. With his head on Edwards’ chest, Dahmer declared, “I’m gonna eat your heart,” according to Edwards.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment

Dahmer led Edwards to his room, where the two sat on the bed and watched ‘The Exorcist III.’ Edwards described Dahmer as “chanting” and “rocking back and forth” on the bed. He reportedly became excited at the scenes where the priest became possessed. With Dahmer distracted at this scene, Edwards hit him over the head and fled the apartment. He was half naked, with one handcuff dangling from his wrist when he flagged down a police car with two officers inside. The officers’ handcuff keys would not work in the set on Edwards, so they had no choice but to find Dahmer’s apartment. The officers knocked on the door, and Dahmer answered. They demanded to know where they keys to the handcuffs were. Dahmer informed them that they were in his bedroom in a drawer. He offered to retrieve them, but an officer went ahead of him into the apartment to get them. Dahmer stood at the door.

Once the officer found the handcuff keys in Dahmer’s bedroom, he glanced into an open dresser drawer to see several polaroids. Upon further examination, the officer noticed that the polaroids were of several men in various stages of dismemberment. He also noticed that the background in the photos, matched the apartment he was currently in.

“Cuff him!” the officer yelled to his partner.

The other officer grabbed Dahmer, who briefly struggled and howled like a frightened and injured animal, according to neighbors. After he was taken to the police station for questioning, the media frenzy began. Several bodies, body parts, and blue barrels containing human remains were removed from the apartment by men wearing hazmat suits. This was broadcast all over the news as America was introduced to the most prolific serial killer in modern American history.

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