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How did serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer get caught and why was he only in jail for three years?

By AYIE LICSI Published Sep 26, 2022 4:30 pm

For 13 years, Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and dismembered 17 teen boys and men without the police suspecting he was the culprit. Why did it take so long for the "Milwaukee Cannibal" to get caught?

The notorious serial killer's story made the rounds online as Netflix released a terrifying biopic on him titled Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The limited series, starring Evan Peters as Dahmer, is told from the victim's point of view and spans the killer's life from 1991 until his death in 1994.

Dahmer earned his "Milwaukee Cannibal" and "Milwaukee Monster" nicknames for his murders, which involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the preservation of the victim's body parts. He committed these crimes from 1978 to 1991, with the police not even suspecting the intelligent, soft-spoken man to be behind the grisly killings.

How he got caught

In 1991, Dahmer lured 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone into his apartment. He drilled a hole into the boy's skull to inject hydrochloric acid into his frontal lobe. When Sinthasomphone was unconscious, Dahmer left his apartment to visit a bar and buy more alcohol, but when he returned, the boy had already fled, talking to three women.

Disturbed, the women called the police but when they arrived, Dahmer told the officers that he and Sinthasomphone were boyfriends and they believed him. The women tried to dissuade the cops, pointing out that the boy was bleeding from his rectum but she was told to shut up.

The incident was written off as a domestic dispute and the officers even walked Dahmer and the boy to his apartment. One of the officers, Joseph Gabrish noticed that the killer's abode smelled a foul odor—the decomposing flesh of Dahmer's previous victims.

Two months later, the serial killer invited 32-year-old Tracy Edwards to his apartment but the latter noticed suspicious things about his place, such as Polaroids of dismembered bodies, the foul smell, and a 57-gallon drum in the corner.

Edwards did everything to stall Dahmer from killing him and punched him in the face, running out the door. The victim called the attention of two police officers, explained the situation, and accompanied him back to Dahmer's apartment. After finding a knife and the horrific photos, they arrested Dahmer who said, "For what I did, I should be dead."

Dahmer confessed to killing 17 young men and engaging in necrophilia with the victim's bodies. For this, he was charged with 16 counts of murder with psychiatrists saying he was legally sane. Wisconsin did not serve death penalties so he was instead given 16 life sentences.

How long was Jeffrey Dahmer in prison?

Dahmer was placed in the Columbia Correctional Institution, isolated from other prisoners due to his notoriety. He served a total of three years in prison, in contrast to his supposed 16 life sentences. His first year was pretty quiet and in 1994, he expressed interest in converting to Christianity.

On Nov. 28, 1994, Dahmer was on cleaning duty in the prison's gym bathrooms with two other inmates Jesse Anderson and Christopher Scarver. The guards later found Dahmer and Anderson bludgeoned and beaten by Scarver. Dahmer was pronounced dead an hour later.

After Dahmer's death, his mother Joyce faced the media, saying, "Now is everybody happy? Now that he's bludgeoned to death, is that good for everyone?"

The Milwaukee Monster was cremated with his ashes divided between his parents.