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Cannibal confessions: 9 scary Jeffrey Dahmer quotes

An old cassette tape with 'Interview 1 - Jeffrey Dahmer' and 'July 1991 / Det. Patrick Kennedy' written on it

Conversations with a killer

Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as both the ‘Milwaukee Cannibal’ and the ‘Milwaukee Monster’, was one of history’s worst killers.

He was a serial killer, rapist, necrophile and cannibal, who once took the head of one of his victims to work, committing the kind of depraved acts that are utterly inconceivable for the general population. What drives a man to murder and molest in the way Dahmer did?

We might be closer to finding out, as a series of new tapes reveal the private conversations between the killer and his lawyer.

It’s not the first time Dahmer has spoken out about what he did, though; he gave interviews before his death, as well as confessing many details in tape-recorded police interviews and speaking at his trial. So, what can we learn from what he himself revealed? These are some of the things Jeffrey Dahmer has said about his chilling crimes.

1. “I fantasised about taking a hitchhiker back to the house and having complete control and dominance over him”

Despite his fantasies, Dahmer’s first murder, that of 18-year-old Stephen Hicks, wasn’t planned, but instead happened on an impulse. Dahmer spotted him while Hicks was hitchhiking and offered to give him a lift to a concert.

He first took Hicks back to his parents’ empty house to drink. Dahmer said Hicks spoke of women, which made him realise Hicks was straight and that any sexual advances would be rebuffed. When Hicks tried to leave, he hit him with a barbell and strangled him to death.

2. “There just wasn’t an opportunity to fully express what I wanted to do”

It was almost a decade before Dahmer killed again, during which time he joined the military. When asked why he took such a long break between murders during a later interview, Dahmer said it was because he didn’t have the ‘physical opportunity’ to do so.

It was only when he was discharged from service and returned to Milwaukee that he killed again. This time his victim was Steven Tuomi, whom he picked up at a gay bar and took back to a hotel. ‘Apparently, I had beaten him to death with my fists… I had no memory of it.’

3. “I wanted to keep them with me”

From the late 1980s to 1991, Dahmer’s crimes continued and escalated. Most of his victims were Black, Asian and Latino men and 15 of his known killings took place during this time. Dahmer said of his murders, ‘I had these obsessive desires and thoughts, wanting to control them… to possess them permanently.’

4. “I tried to keep the person alive by inducing a zombie-like state”

Killing wasn’t Dahmer’s aim, which might be hard to believe, given he was a prolific serial murderer. According to the man himself, he didn’t even want to kill anyone as that was the ‘least satisfactory part’. What he actually wanted was to create ‘living zombies’, keeping his victims alive so he could use them as his ‘love slaves’.

He attempted to lobotomise his victims, drilling a hole in their heads and pouring in acid. Needless to say, none of his lobotomy attempts were successful. ‘I just wanted to have the person under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted.’

5. “As my obsession grew, I was saving body parts, such as skulls and skeletons”

As with most serial killers, Dahmer’s crimes only intensified over time. Dahmer explained that ‘it took more and more deviant behaviours to satisfy my urges’. This included saving body parts in his home, which he later used for necrophiliac acts.

When police raided his house, they found evidence of this, with hearts, genitals and severed heads kept in his freezer. Dahmer even confessed to having taken a human head to his work at a chocolate factory, which he stored in his locker.

6. “I even went so far as planning on setting up an altar, with 10 different skulls and skeletons”

He wanted to build a ‘memorial’ from his victims’ remains, which he described as ‘a place where I could collect my thoughts and feed my obsession’.

7. “I would cook it and look at the pictures and masturbate”

Dahmer’s attempts to possess his victims led him to eat them, which he described as ‘a way of making me feel they were part of me’. In his confession to the police, he described cooking and eating a man’s bicep.

Traces of human flesh were found on the utensils in his home. ‘Control and lust played a big part of it.’

They also found an extensive collection of polaroid pictures, which Dahmer had taken of his victims. ‘It was my way of remembering their appearance. Their physical beauty’, he said.

8. “If I was killed in prison. That would be a blessing right now”

Dahmer said that ‘I tried to stop’. Whether or not this is true, he never again managed to fully control his urges and admitted that they never left. In the end, he got his wish. He was killed in prison by a fellow inmate, Christopher Scarver, who was serving time for murder.

According to Scarver, Dahmer had taunted other inmates and officers with his crimes, by pretending his food was severed limbs and pouring ketchup, as blood, over it.

However, Nancy Glass, a journalist who interviewed Dahmer, said she thought Dahmer deliberately provoked Scarver, because his urges had never gone away. In prison, he couldn’t satisfy them and he wanted to ‘escape’.

9. “I know I was sick or evil, or both”

Ultimately, Dahmer’s insight into what drove his compulsions is limited. In his closing statement after sentencing at his trial, Dahmer told the judge ‘I wanted to find out what it was that caused me to be so bad and evil’.

He also said that he went through with the trial to give answers to the world for what he did and because he wanted death for himself. ‘Your Honour, it is over now… I didn’t ever want freedom.'