By Steven Toushin
Sitting in the courtroom listening to Park Elliot Dietz list his accomplishments, I had no idea that our paths would indirectly cross again, the result of a truly sad and bizarre event. Just three years after my own trial, Park Elliot Dietz would testify in the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed my devoted employee, Jeremy Weinberger. What you are about to read is adapted from a series of articles I wrote in 2002.
Dietz was one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses testifying that Jeffrey Dahmer was sane during his murder spree. You can decide for yourself whether Dietz’s opinions were accurate and his conclusions true; or whether he simply sidestepped the law to promote his own personal agenda. If Jeffrey Dahmer was sane, what could it possibly mean to be insane?
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I put together this article from memory and personal files, as well as magazine and newspaper clippings, which helped, refresh my memory. Going back into the past, reading and remembering the events as they unfolded, it has become very surreal to me. As I am writing, I stare at the screen in a dream-like state, becoming sad from the tragedy and all the lives it touched, and the lives that were suddenly taken away.
* * *
I first met Jeremiah Weinberger in 1985. He was a young, slim, handsome mulatto boy who started coming to the Bijou office every week. Sometimes I would see him outside, other times he would be in the office. He always seemed to be around and he was always asking me for a job. It didn’t matter what kind of job – janitorial, receptionist, inventory, or something else. Every week I had to tell him there was nothing available. Six or seven months of dedicated persistence went by and Jeremy didn’t miss a week.
One day, during his weekly visit, I took him into my office, sat him down, stared at him for a moment, and then told him to come back the next day because he was going to start doing the mailings. He thanked me profusely and gave me one of his big smiles as he ran out into the office to tell everyone he was going to start work tomorrow – He had gotten a job at the Bijou! Everyone laughed and shook his hand. Jeremy couldn’t wait; he started answering phones and filing that same day.
Jeremy wanted a place to belong; a place where he was respected, and he found that place working at the Bijou. Every day he would come over to greet me, always asking if I needed anything and checking to see if his work was satisfactory. Jeremy’s life revolved around work and the friends he’d made at the Bijou. He became best friends with Teddy Jones, who also worked at the office. Jeremy never made a major decision without first running it past Teddy. In fact, Teddy had to know about almost everything Jeremy did before he would do it.
At the time, my problems with the federal government were starting to heat up again. The Bijou was getting busted two or thee times a year; the Slave and Master videos were forced off the market; and I was feeling the pressure of running my companies. My mail order and film production businesses were blossoming and I was dealing with local arrests while facing two federal trials. At the end of 1988, having lost my first major trial, I was put in prison, where I remained throughout my obscenity trial in 1989 and until I was released in the spring of 1990.
During that time, Teddy was the receptionist at the Bijou. I would usually call in from prison two or three times a day and Teddy would answer the phone. He had this wonderful deep sexy voice and an outstanding laugh. Teddy would always tell me that Jeremy said hello. When Jeremy would answer the phone, he was always concerned about how I was, if there was anything I needed, and he would still occasionally thank me for letting him work for my company.
On Monday, July 8, 1991, Jeremy didn’t come to work. By noon, he still had not called. That was completely unlike Jeremy since he never missed a day of work. Illness, rain, sleet or snow – nothing kept him away. He was always at his desk. If he were going to be late, he would always call.
Teddy Jones was always late for work, rain or shine, sleet or snow. That Monday, when Teddy finally arrived at work, Dennis and a few co-workers asked Teddy, “Where’s Jeremy? Did he call you? He hasn’t called in. We called his home and got no answer.”
Teddy told them Jeremy had gone to Milwaukee early Saturday morning with a man he met at Carol’s Speakeasy the night before. This was the first time Jeremy had ever done such a thing and he told Teddy before he left that he would call on Sunday to let him know he was okay. Teddy asked Jeremy if he had enough money to get back to Chicago, and Jeremy said yes. Jeremy didn’t call Sunday, which made Teddy a little worried, but that’s all he knew. He called Jeremy Sunday night and Monday morning, but got no answer.
Teddy started relating what happened early that Saturday morning at Carol’s Speakeasy with Jeremy and the stranger from Milwaukee. Teddy said when he met Jeremy at Carol’s, Jeremy was all excited. He had met this nice-looking man who had an easy, warm smile. They had been talking all night, danced a little, held hands, kissed, nothing outrageous, just sexy.
This man asked Jeremy to go with him to Milwaukee to spend Saturday night and Sunday. No one had ever asked Jeremy to do this before and it all seemed so exciting and romantic. After being with Jeremy and this man for a few hours, Teddy felt the guy was pleasant, conservative, and fairly good-looking, in a non-descript way, and Jeremy was quite taken by him.
I judged from his description that this man was not Teddy’s type. Teddy was outgoing, very sociable, knew everyone, and was a great flirt. On the other hand, Jeremy was slightly shy, no street smarts, very warm, easy, pleasant, quiet, submissive, loveable, and most of all, romantic. At the Bijou, Jeremy worked in the Customer Service Department and he was always pleasant, helpful, and polite. Teddy…well, Teddy was always lovable, but he did drive me crazy at times.
Teddy said Jeremy told him the man from Milwaukee had asked him to spend the rest of the weekend with him. Jeremy asked Teddy if he should go with the man. Teddy asked Jeremy if he wanted to go and Jeremy said yes. Then Teddy said, “He looks nice, so if you think you really want to go, then do it.” Teddy then asked, “How are you going to get back?” Jeremy said, “If he doesn’t give me a ride, I’ll take a bus.” Later, when Teddy left, Jeremy told Teddy to call him at home the next day and if he wasn’t home, it meant that he had gone to Milwaukee.
Everyone in the office felt relieved now that they knew where Jeremy was, and that hopefully, he was getting a lot of good sex…but he still should have called. By 3:00 pm that Monday, Teddy started to worry a little more since Jeremy, his best friend, hadn’t contacted him. Never a day went by without them speaking to each other, and Jeremy had never spent a weekend out of the city with anyone else…and he never, ever missed work.
When the office closed at 6:00 pm, Teddy and a few of his co-workers went over to Jeremy’s home. (Jeremy lived above his father’s coffee shop on Halsted Street.) Jeremy had not gone home after he left Carol’s. Nothing was packed; money was still lying on his bed; and his bag was still in the closet. Jeremy had not come back to Chicago.
Looking for Jeremy
Tuesday, July 9, 1991: No Jeremy. He didn’t come home; he didn’t come to work; he didn’t call the office; he didn’t call his dad…and he didn’t call Teddy. Teddy was upset, worried, smiling less, laughing nervously. There was something wrong – Big Time. A few of the office staff came to see me in my office. They wanted to do something. They had already mapped out a search strategy. Teddy had photos of Jeremy that they wanted to blow up to poster size and circulate. The Art Department put in the vital information: “Missing! Has anyone seen this man, Jeremy Weinberger, from Chicago? Call (telephone number).”
Two or three people planned to go to Milwaukee over the weekend, going to the bars, bathhouses, and gay stores, handing out posters and fliers, putting them on trees, telephone poles, and fences. I took out ads in the Windy City Times and Gay Chicago Magazine, asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of Jeremy Weinberger: “Missing! Has anyone seen this man?”
Wednesday, July 10, 1991: Jeremy’s father filed a missing person’s report with the Chicago and Milwaukee Police Departments. Teddy was talking with both police departments and also with Jeremy’s father.
Over the next two weeks, we received no information and had no response from the posters or fliers. Teddy was visibly upset; Jeremy’s father was calling two or three times a day; and the office was quiet and shaken. If Jeremy didn’t come to work or call in, something must be very wrong. It had now been two weeks and everyone was upset, depressed, and in mourning. The worst must have happened; but who? where? when? how? How could anyone want to harm Jeremy? And if someone did, that person must be an evil fuck. But at this point, we didn’t know anything except that Jeremy was missing. The trouble was, what were we to do now? We didn’t know exactly what had happened to Jeremy, but after two weeks of nothing, we thought the worst.
Teddy blamed himself for telling Jeremy it was okay to go to Milwaukee with that quiet, nice-looking, non-descript guy. He couldn’t understand how he could have given such bad advice, how he could have had such poor judgment, how his instincts could have been so wrong.
People kept calling the office asking if there was any information on Jeremy. Everything in the office was different. Jeremy wasn’t there to say hello to me every day, to ask me how I was doing, or to ask if there was anything I needed.
July 22, 1991: Around 10:00 a.m., information began coming over the radio about a strange occurrence in Milwaukee, about a nude and handcuffed man running in the streets, yelling that someone was trying to kill him. The police picked him up and he led them to an apartment building where he said he had been held captive, and from which he had escaped fearing he would be killed. The police thought it was just a spat between homosexual kinky lovers…until they went inside of Apartment 213 at the Oxford Apartment Building, 924 North 25th Street.
News reports indicated the apartment’s occupant was being held in custody and that a full investigation was underway. Meanwhile, police units had closed off the building to the public.
No description of the accused was mentioned in the early news reports, but everyone in the office remained glued to the radio, waiting to hear if this was the same man Jeremy had been with. Teddy was anxious, excited, and beside himself. As the day went on, news reports were turning more and more dark. Bits and pieces were coming out that there might be dead bodies in the apartment, that the smell coming out of the apartment was horrific, and that the hallways smelled like rotting flesh. The man in police custody was Jeffrey Dahmer.
The Windy City Times Scoops the World Press!
He was six feet tall, 160-170 pounds, short blonde hair parted on the left, wearing glasses, long thin hands and arms, in his late twenties to early thirties, nice looking, but rather non-descript. It was the same description Teddy had given to the Chicago police sketch artists, the same description as the man Jeremy went to Milwaukee with that ominous night. This was the man now being held in custody in Milwaukee, the man with an apartment full of body parts.
Monday, July 22, 1991: That afternoon, the Chicago police came to the Bijou office wanting to speak with Teddy. Teddy came to me and asked if I would help him through all of this. He was scared and upset. Jeremy could be dead. The man described on the radio and television looked just like the man Jeremy went with to Milwaukee, the man who had cut-up bodies in his apartment. The police wanted to question Teddy. (I thought situations like this only happened in the movies!)
Teddy and I talked; he was crying, afraid he had lost his best friend, and feeling he was at least partly responsible. I held Teddy in my arms and said, “How could you know? It isn’t your fault or anyone else’s fault. Nobody could have seen this nightmare coming.” I also told him he was the best friend Jeremy could ever have. Without question I would help him.
Teddy and I discussed how he would cooperate with the police in all matters and I would handle the press, if necessary. I also got him an attorney and told Teddy he could take a long weekend to rest, but he had to start coming in to work on time. Of course, I always mentioned that to Teddy. Teddy lived 200 feet away from the office in the Bijou Theater building. The office opened at 10:00 am. The next day, as usual, Teddy came to work late.
Tuesday, July 23, 1991: By early afternoon, there were television, magazine, and newspaper reporters trying to get into the office. Someone from Chicago’s Channel 5 News (NBC) presented himself as a police officer and managed to get into the office. He was pleasant, but stubborn and persistent, wanting an exclusive interview. It took 10 to 15 minutes to get him out of the office. Teddy and I were not happy.
I made a decision when the reporter was in the office that the Chicago Gay Press should have the exclusive interview of the only eyewitness to Jeffery Dahmer. Teddy and I talked about it, and Teddy told me he would do whatever I thought was best. I called Jeff McCourt, the owner/publisher of the Windy City Times, and told Jeff about Teddy and all the reporters that were camped outside the office. I asked if he would be interested in an exclusive interview. Jeff told me not to move; he’d be right over.
When Jeff arrived a short time later, we both sat down with Teddy for the interview. So, the Chicago Gay Press scooped the exclusive story over all the national and international press. Ain’t that the tits!
The interview went well. Teddy was relieved and Jeff was ecstatic. The next thing on the agenda was for the Windy City Times to call the rest of the press and present Teddy as the Gay Press’s exclusive eyewitness, able to identify the man who may be the most bizarre serial murderer of the century.
I think it was the next night (Thursday) that the press conference was held. Jeff spoke to the press and then introduced Teddy, who answered some questions that had been outlined by his attorney. Teddy was only allowed to answer certain questions so he wouldn’t jeopardize the police case against Dahmer. Parts of the interview were aired and reported around the world. Teddy was a nervous wreck and feeling like the prize pig at the county fair. All of this was happening because this man, Jeffrey Dahmer, killed his best friend Jeremy.
Yes, it was confirmed that Jeremy was dead, killed by Jeffrey Dahmer. The first bit of evidence was Dahmer’s scrapbook of Polaroid pictures identifying his victims in their various stages of death.
The Day the Devil was Born
Jeffrey Dahmer was born in Milwaukee in 1960. At the age of six, Dahmer’s family moved to Ohio, and in the late 1960s he had been molested by an older boy. By the age of ten or eleven, Dahmer was torturing and killing small animals, cutting off the heads of chickens, rodents, small dogs, and cats.
Dahmer’s first human victim was Steven Hicks, in 1978. Hicks was hitchhiking and 18-year-old Dahmer picked him up. They went to Dahmer’s home where they laughed, talked, and drank beer. At some point, for no apparent reason, Dahmer hit Hicks on the head with an iron bar, killing him.
This murder wildly, sexually excited Dahmer, but he still had to dispose of the body without getting caught. He dismembered Hicks, cutting him up into small pieces, filling garbage bags with the body parts, being careful not to make them too heavy since he had to carry them without looking too suspicious. He buried the bags in the woods behind his parents’ home. Years later he dug them up, finding mostly just bones. Smashing the remains, he scattered them around in the woods.
Dahmer started drinking heavily right after he killed Hicks. He joined the Army and, when he finished basic training, he was stationed overseas in Germany. After serving two years in the Army, he was discharged for alcoholism. In 1986, Dahmer was arrested for masturbating in front of a young boy and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation.
Dahmer’s second victim was Steven Toumi in 1987. They met each other at a gay bar, and Dahmer couldn’t even remember how he killed Toumi. He knew he had taken the corpse over to his Grandmother’s house and he had sex with the corpse in Grandma’s basement. When it was time to get rid of the body, he did the same to Toumi as he did to Hicks. He cut Toumi up into small pieces, put the pieces into plastic bags, and scattered them around in dumpsters.
Later in 1987, Jamie Doxtator, age 14, was Dahmer’s third victim. Dahmer picked Jamie up outside of a gay bar, took him home to Grandma’s house, drugged him, killed him, had sex with the corpse, cut up the body, and got rid of it.
Dahmer’s fourth victim was Richard Guerrero in 1988. Again, he met Richard at a gay bar and brought him back to Grandma’s house where he drugged and killed him and masturbated on the dead body. Guerrero was also dismembered, his cut up body parts put into garbage bags and disposed of in dumpsters around town. Grandma had no idea what grisly things were happening in her home.
My question is: How did he cut up bodies in Grandma’s house without Grandma knowing about it? Didn’t she ever go down to the basement? How could Dahmer clean up so thoroughly as not to leave any trace of the crimes? To dismember a body, you would need tools, saws. Wouldn’t it be messy, bloody? Wouldn’t there be blood on the walls, floors? Was there a bathtub or shower in the basement to drain all the blood? If there wasn’t a bathtub or shower, how did he drain all the blood? Where did he cut up the bodies? And what about all the blood on him? On his clothes? After all, I’m talking about slaughtering and cutting up a human being! Surely there would be some telltale sign to make Grandma suspicious that something was wrong!
If he was going to continue to fulfill his sexual fantasies, Dahmer needed his own apartment, so he rented one on North 24th Street in Milwaukee. A few days after he moved in, he met a 13-year-old Laotian boy. Dahmer offered the boy $50 to pose nude for him. The boy was drugged, but strangely, Dahmer did nothing else; he let the boy live.
When the boy got home, his mother saw that something was wrong with her son. She took him to the hospital, where they ran tests and found drugs in his system. He remembered where he went that day, where he met Dahmer, and where Dahmer lived…the place where he was drugged and fondled. Dahmer was picked up and arrested for second-degree sexual assault of a minor. Ironically, the boy was the older brother of Konerak Sinthasomphone, whom Dahmer later killed in May, 1991.
On January 30, 1989, Dahmer pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and second-degree sexual assault. He received a one-year sentence. While awaiting sentencing, Dahmer met Anthony Sears, his fifth victim, at a gay bar.
As before, Dahmer offered Sears money to pose nude for photos and then took him to Grandma’s house where he drugged and strangled the man. He fucked the dead corpse, later cutting Sears into pieces. Then he put Sears cut-up body parts in plastic bags, disposing of the bags around Milwaukee.
Dahmer didn’t go to prison for his guilty plea. Instead, he was sentenced to one year in a work-release program. He worked during the day and spent the night in jail. When he was released, he went to live at Grandma’s house again until he found his own place to live. The place he found was Apartment 213 at 924 North 25th in Milwaukee. All the killings before were just dress rehearsals. Now he was in the game full-time!
Meeting young men at gay bars and bathhouses, offering his victims money to pose nude, strangling, photographing, having sex with the corpses, dismembering them, keeping their heads, hearts, penises…12 more men in 15 months…so many men, so little time.
The Victims: Let’s Party! Let’s DIE!
In Dahmer’s apartment, body parts were hidden everywhere; a skull in the refrigerator, skulls in the closet (all the flesh had been removed), bones in cardboard boxes and in a filing cabinet, hands and a penis decaying in a large cooking pot, more body parts in a large barrel, and a freezer packed with lungs, kidneys, hearts, livers, intestines, spleens. All these delicacies for his eating delight.
Victim #6: Edward Smith, June, 1990
Victim #7: Ricky Beeks (Raymond Lamout Smith), age 33, July, 1990
Victim #8: Ernest Miller, age 24, September, 1990
Victim #9: David Thomas, September, 1990
Victim #10: Curtis Straughter, age 18, February, 1991
Victim #11: Errol Lindsey, age 19, April, 1991
Victim #12: Anthony Hughes, age 31, May 24, 1991
Victim #13: Konerak Sinthasomphone, age 14, May, 1991
Konerak was the brother of the boy Dahmer had molested a few years earlier. Konerak managed to get away from Dahmer, and he was seen naked and bleeding, running down 25th and State in Milwaukee. Seeing the boy, a woman called 911. Dahmer ran after the boy, trying to get him back. As he approached Konerak, a woman in the street questioned Dahmer about what was going on. Dahmer told her, “He’s drunk; he does this all the time,” as if this were merely a domestic problem.
When the police arrived, Dahmer was holding the boy saying, “Here he is,” as if he was the one who found Konerak. The boy didn’t speak English, and Dahmer explained that this was his lover, they were having a lovers’ spat, and all he wanted to do was take his lover home. The police took their names and let Dahmer leave with Konerak. Dahmer killed the boy later that same day, May 27, 1991.
Victim #14: Matt Turner, age 20, June 30, 1991
Dahmer picked Matt up at the bus station in Chicago after the Gay Pride Parade, promising him money if he would pose nude. Turner agreed, and together they took the bus up to Milwaukee. Once in his apartment, Dahmer gave Turner a drugged drink, strangled him with a strap until dead, then cut off Turner’s head and put it in the freezer. He proceeded to systematically cut up Turner’s body and put the pieces into a large barrel he had in the apartment.
Victim #15: Jeremiah Weinberger, age 23, July 7, 1991
They met at Carol’s Speakeasy in Chicago and later that night Jeremy went with Dahmer to Milwaukee to spend the weekend. When the time came for Jeremy to leave, Dahmer drugged his drink. Once Jeremy was dead, Dahmer began cutting Jeremy up, taking pictures of the various stages of dismemberment. He put Jeremy’s head and some of his insides in the freezer. The rest of his body parts were put in the large barrel he had in his apartment.
Victim #16: Oliver Lacy, age 23, July 12, 1991
Lacy went home with Dahmer on the same promise of money for posing nude. Dahmer drugged his drink, strangled him until dead, then proceeded to cut off Lacy’s head and cut out Lacy’s heart. He put the head in the refrigerator, and Lacy’s heart in the freezer, to eat later.
Victim #17: Joseph Bradehoft, age 25, July 19, 1991
Dahmer took Bradehoft back to his apartment where he drugged him and then strangled him until dead. Later, Dahmer cut off Bradehoft’s head, put it in the freezer, dismembered the rest of Bradehoft’s body, and again put the cut up body parts in the barrel, saving the edible parts for later in the freezer.
In his statement to the doctors and police, Dahmer stated he had sex with the dead bodies and then later masturbated on them. When he was ready to dispose of the bodies, he cut them open, took out the insides, and took pictures at each stage of dismemberment, so he would have a visual record of all the details. He tried to preserve the genitals in formaldehyde. He stripped all the flesh off the skulls; he wanted them clean; and at times he would eat his victim’s flesh.
With some of the drugged victims, Dahmer drilled holes in their heads and poured acid in the holes, but the gruesome part is that he did this while they were still alive. He wanted to see if he could create sex slave zombies; he didn’t want them to leave him. This guy was beyond nuts!
During the last four to six months before he was caught, Dahmer couldn’t kill fast enough. His need, his desire, was overwhelming. The need to consume and possess the power of the dead was sexually empowering to Dahmer.
He’s Too Nuts to be Insane, Too Insane to be Insane, and Too Insane to be Nuts
What happened to the blood? That’s a good question. The answer: it went down the bathtub drain.
At Dahmer’s trial, Park Elliot Dietz was one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses who testified that Dahmer was sane. Dietz stated that Dahmer knew right from wrong.
A total of six psychiatrists testified at the trial, three for the defense and three for the prosecution. Dr. Frederick Fosdal, a forensic psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution, had also testified in numerous other mental responsibility issues in Wisconsin. Fosdal stated that Dahmer was responsible for his actions and shrewdly selected his victims. He said Dahmer suffered from “necrophilia,” a sexual disorder so rare and multifaceted that its diagnostic category covers “this most unusual case.”
Dahmer’s necrophilia, according to Fosdal, did not render him out of control when he killed. This was a person engaging in sexual crimes for his own satisfaction. The disorder explains his conduct and his behavior, but it does not make him unable to know right from wrong.
Fosdal interviewed Dahmer four times over a four-month period, for a total of twelve hours. Dahmer had already confessed to the killings. He said, “I had choices to make. I made the wrong choices.” Dahmer said he sometimes had two bodies in his bathtub because he didn’t have time to deflesh them. He used a bleach solution to help preserve them in the tub. When he took a shower, he would drain the tub and take a shower with the bodies in the tub. He performed this procedure at least three times in a single week.
Dahmer stated he could not overcome his overwhelming need for sex and his lustful desires. These cravings had always controlled him, had always been a consuming obsession in his life. Sex was the only activity that gave him any sense of fulfillment. If his victims would just stay with him where he could control them completely, if they would do everything he asked of them, then he would not have to kill them. Dahmer was always drunk when he killed; it made the murders so much easier.
Dahmer’s hunting grounds were Chicago and Milwaukee, at the gay bathhouses and gay bars. According to Dahmer, he had sex with over 100 men from 1985 until his arrest. The killings became easier by Victim #7, Eddie Smith. There was no more internal struggle; killing became so routine that he found it didn’t interfere with his life.
Toward the end, he was so exhausted from getting rid of the bodies stacked up two at a time in his bathtub that on some weekends he could not muster up the energy to acquire another victim. So he tried lobotomy experiments, drugging his victims, then while they were still alive, he drilled holes into their heads and poured acid into their brains, thinking he could turn these young men into zombie-like sex slaves, his perceived fantasy.
Nuttier Than a Fruitcake, but Sane and Guilty
The Milwaukee police wanted to question Teddy Jones, the best friend of victim Jeremy Weinberger. Of course we said yes, and they came to the Bijou offices in Chicago. They wanted to see if Teddy could identify Dahmer as the person Jeremy was with at Carol’s Speakeasy and then went to Milwaukee with that fateful night in July of 1991. They also wanted Teddy to identify Jeremy Weinberger if, in fact, Jeremy was one of the victims. Teddy identified both Dahmer and Jeremy. Now the police had an eyewitness that placed the suspected killer with a victim.
When the trial began and Dahmer pleaded guilty, Teddy was so relieved he didn’t have to participate in the trial or be involved in all the media attention, although he would, of course, do whatever he could to help. This trial was hitting him right in the face, bringing up all those bad memories, those rotten feelings, the loss of his dear friend, all that guilt festering inside of him, manifesting its destructiveness on Teddy. He dreaded all the pretrial publicity, going to Milwaukee, all those cameras, newspapers, the stress…the macabre circus. Now that Dahmer had pleaded guilty, the fight for the truth was over. Teddy could grieve in peace.
All of us at the office followed the trial daily. The reports of the trial were not outrageous or overblown. In fact, the news stories were quite conservative compared to the standards ten years later. Before Dahmer pleaded guilty, one of the television channels had a special about the burden of picking a jury. I tuned in to watch, and there on the panel was Margie Fargo from Jury Services.
I had hired Margie in 1989 to do extensive jury survey and analysis work for my obscenity trial in Tennessee. She arranged jurors for mock trials, put together focus groups, and implemented community standards surveys. Putting all of this information together, she created the all-important jury questionnaire, which was instrumental in my defense strategy. With all of this information at my attorneys’ disposal, they had better knowledge and understanding of how the jury would respond to certain lines of questioning. In essence, they knew what type of juror I needed and how to direct my defense to offset and counter the prosecution’s case.
Now I was watching Margie on a television panel. She was discussing how the two sides of the Dahmer case should proceed to pick a jury. She described what to look for in education, religion, background, family members, etc., and how the prosecution and defense should present their cases.
(On a side note, Paramount Pictures stopped running ads in Milwaukee at that time for a movie called Body Parts.)
Dahmer pleaded guilty by reason of insanity. The trial took three weeks. The jury heard from 28 witnesses. They heard Dahmer’s confession about how he used food seasonings on the body parts he cooked and then ate, and if he needed more flavor, he added steak sauce. He confessed how he drilled holes in his victims’ heads while they were still alive to make them his human sex slaves, and how he showered with the bodies stacked up in his bathtub.
The defense stated that Dahmer was a disturbed man; he was obsessed by the love of the dead. All his life he fought those desires in him, but he could not control or suppress his unnatural cravings for murder and sex in his bizarre world.
The prosecution stated that since he killed Blacks, Asians, and only a few white men, he didn’t follow any serial killer’s pattern of staying within his own ethnic group.
They stated that when he stayed with his Grandmother he was good to her, that he would have breakfast with her and then see her off to church (such a good grandson). But when she left to go to church, he would then go down to the basement of her home to cut up his latest victim, put the body pieces into garbage bags, and dispose of them around Milwaukee.
The system was careless. The police, the judges, and the probation system all let Dahmer walk away, not realizing the potential destruction he would have on society. He fooled them; he slipped through all the cracks. But in truth, how were they to know what Dahmer was capable of? How could anyone have known? Jeffrey Dahmer was beyond comprehension.
The defense stated that Dahmer lived in a bizarre world, a bizarre, distorted reality. His sexual and mental disorders prevented him from understanding the inhuman nature of his unfathomable and hideous crimes. No sane or even semi-sane person could immerse himself in such barbaric acts – sleeping, eating, bathing, breathing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with heads in the refrigerator, bodies in the bathtub, cut up body parts in a large barrel. Everywhere he turned, there were the workings of his murders: human hearts, livers, spleens, and intestines in the freezer to eat later. When Dahmer was arrested, they found the body parts of eleven victims, and the only real food in his apartment was potato chips.
The stench…no sane person could create this environment or live in such revolting sickness. Dahmer was sick, not evil.
In the courtroom, an eight-foot-high barrier was constructed from bullet-resistant glass and steel, designed to isolate Dahmer from the gallery. The jury of six white men and seven white women took just five hours to find Dahmer sane and guilty.
The Confession (Excerpts)
In Dahmer’s 179-page confession to the police, he stated that he remembered his young life as being very tense. He was 18 when his parents divorced and he was left all alone at home. He had hateful feelings about being alone; he didn’t want people to leave him; and he started drinking.
At the age of 15 or 16, he knew he was a homosexual, and he also began to have fantasies of killing people. He would pick up road kill animals, take them home, and cut them up to see what was inside the bodies. He fantasized about what it would be like to cut up a human being.
As a teenager, his homosexual fantasies and his fantasies of killing and dismembering people became interwoven. He got tremendous feelings of gratification from these fantasies.
Dahmer felt that his first killing, Steven Hicks, was an accident. This first killing bothered him for years. When he moved in with his grandmother, he started attending church with her and reading the Bible. He wanted religion to change his life; he wanted a straight, quiet life, not a lonely life.
But the darker side of him took over. He didn’t go to church anymore and, on the other side, Satan wasn’t for him either. He needed to be on his own, so he moved to Milwaukee and started going to gay bathhouses, one of them being the 2nd Level Bathhouse. He was now into his homosexual life full-time.
When he first started killing, he pretty much knew before going out for the evening if he planned to kill someone or not. He would prepare the sleeping drug by crushing it into a powder and leaving it in a glass on the kitchen counter, just in case he brought someone home.
When he went to a bar, he would generally drink by himself and look over the men. It didn’t matter what their color, race, or ethnic heritage was as long as they were mid-teens to mid-20s, medium height, slender with smooth skin…and alone.
Once Dahmer decided who was going to be his victim, he would approach the man and make small talk, usually near closing time. He would ask the victim if he wanted to come over to his home for nude photos, sex, and drinking, or he offered money. When he got the guy to his apartment, he would flirt and engage in small talk while the victim drank the drugged drink he had prepared earlier.
As the victim drifted off into unconsciousness, Dahmer would then strangle him and, when dead, photograph him. Sometimes he would even have sex with the dead body. Dahmer would later cut up the victim, keeping the skull, hands, heart and other inner organs.
Dahmer needed and got sexual pleasure from his victims when they were alive, but he couldn’t bear for them to leave. It was better to have them always be with him, even dead, than for them to remain alive and leave him. He also felt that by eating parts of his victims, they would be with him longer, and actually become part of him.
Dahmer realized that what he was doing could get him the death penalty, and he didn’t want to die for his killings. He wished that he would have continued to cut up animals and never taken up the killing of people. He was horrified that he was able to do such grisly, barbaric acts.
Dahmer knew what he did was wrong, because he went to great lengths and spent great sums of money to cover it up. He realized it would be impossible to make amends and to be forgiven. He felt that the only way for him to make a new start in his life was to tell all and to be fully honest, swearing to try and change his life in the future.
Could Dahmer change? He had previously fooled the courts, his probation officer, and the police; and it gave him the feeling that, maybe, he could get away with his crimes. In his confession, Dahmer stated: “I must be honest. If I had to do it all over again, I could not stop the compulsion and need to kill; it is far too great.” Nothing took away his feelings of wanting to kill and dismember people. It was an addiction that would overtake him time and time again.
As far as good versus evil was concerned, he watched the Exorcist III almost daily for six months. In the movie, the devil was angry for being condemned, and Dahmer felt his life on earth, like the Devil’s, was also condemned. The main character in the movie was driven by evil, just as Dahmer himself was driven by evil.
This is an excerpt from the statement Jeffrey L. Dahmer read before he was sentenced on Monday, February 17, 1992:
“Your honor, it is now over. This has never been a case of trying to get free. I didn’t ever want freedom. Frankly I wanted death for myself. This was a case to tell the world that I did what I did, not for reasons of hate. I hated no one. I knew I was sick or evil or both. Now I believe I was sick. The doctors have told me about my sickness and now I have some peace.
I tried to do the best I could after the arrest to make amends, but no matter what I did, I could not undo the terrible harm I have caused. My attempt to help identify the remains was the best I could do, and that was hardly anything. I feel so bad for what I did to those poor families, and I understand their rightful hate…I should have stayed with God. I tried and failed and created a holocaust. Thank God there will be no more harm that I can do. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins…if there is ever any money, I want it to go to the families.
All the questions have now been answered. I wanted to find out just what it was that caused me to be so bad and evil.…I take all the blame for what I did. I hurt many people. The judge in my earlier case tried to help me. I refused his help and he got hurt by what I did. I hurt those policemen in the Konerak matter. They did their best; I just fooled them. I have hurt my Mother, Father and Stepmother. I just want to say that I hope God has forgiven me. I think he has. I know society will never be able to forgive me. I know the families of the victims will never be able to forgive me for what I have done.
I promise I will pray each day to ask for their forgiveness when the hurt goes away, if ever. I have seen their tears, and if I could give my life right now to bring their loved ones back, I would do it. I am so very sorry…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. Now to the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.…I know my time in prison will be terrible, but I deserve whatever I get because of what I have done. I am prepared for your sentence, which I know will be the maximum. I ask for no consideration.”
Before sentencing, Judge Lawrence L. Gram allowed the victims’ relatives to speak about the anguish caused by the loss of their sons, brothers, and nephews. In speaking, they asked the judge to never let Dahmer walk the streets again. All the families and all the people following this trial learned that Wisconsin does not have the death penalty. So the worst sentence for Dahmer, the best recourse for society, would be a life sentence without parole
Dahmer spoke. The prosecution spoke. The relatives spoke. The defense spoke. The judge judged. He sentenced Dahmer to the longest prison term in Wisconsin history. He would not be eligible for parole until 2933. That would be 941 years in prison before he could even go in front of a parole board and say that he was a changed man.
The Day the Devil Died
Poor Jeremy. Did he know what was happening? Did he feel any pain? Was he frightened? Did he know he was going to die? Dahmer knew from the moment he saw, met, and spoke to Jeremy that he had only a day or maybe two to live.
Teddy and everyone at the office were horrified, riveted to the news. There wasn’t enough information about Jeremy. Where did he sleep? Did he sleep? Did he eat? What did he eat? Did he and Dahmer fight? Argue? Did he want to leave? What was Jeremy thinking? Feeling? Why didn’t he call Teddy when he was supposed to? One weekend of bliss turned into a Freddy Kruger nightmare, one weekend of dying hell. The office was sad and gloomy with tears. Carol’s Speakeasy was off limits now. Carol’s died also, closing down a few months later.
Jeremy’s father kept in contact with the office throughout the initial ordeal. We never heard from his mother or sister until a few days after Jeremy’s confirmed death when his mother and sister started calling, wanting his belongings from his desk, his paychecks, wanting to know who the beneficiary of his life insurance policy was. Arguing between the family members ensued. I think I released everything to the father since he was the one Jeremy was closest to. A memorial was held for Jeremy and a couple hundred people showed up to pay their respects.
Porn filmmaker Robert Prion recently came to Chicago and we spoke about Jeremy and what happened that night. Robert said he came to Chicago that weekend to deliver a film he had just finished. That night, he and Richard Voss (who also worked for me) had gone over to Carol’s to get a drink. There they met up with Teddy and Jeremy. They were there when Jeremy met Dahmer and later in the evening, Jeremy brought Dahmer over to introduce him to them. He said Jeremy was blushing and all smiles.
He told me I had come into the bar around 11 or 12 that night for a short time and when Jeremy saw me, he came over to tell me about this pleasant man he had just met, and then he introduced Dahmer to me. I have to admit that I do not remember any of this.
Since Wisconsin does not have the death penalty, Dahmer would just have to grow old in prison. He adjusted very well to prison life at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage, Wisconsin. Initially he was not part of the general population of the prison, which would have put his life in jeopardy. It would just be a matter of time before someone killed him.
The first attempt on Dahmer’s life was July 3, 1994, by a Cuban he had never seen before. This attempt to slash his throat while he was attending a chapel service was unsuccessful.
Dahmer was a model prisoner, and he convinced the prison authorities to allow him more contact with the other prisoners. He was then able to eat in the communal areas and was given some janitorial work to do with other inmates.
For some incredible reason, he was paired up with two highly dangerous men on a work detail. Jesse Anderson, a white man who murdered his wife and blamed it on a black man; and Christopher Scarver, a black delusional schizophrenic who thought he was the Son of God, who was in prison for armed robbery and first degree murder (shooting his victim several times in the head).
It’s not difficult to imagine how Scarver viewed Anderson and Dahmer who had butchered so many black men. It was a lethal, deadly combination.
On November 28, 1994, at 7:50 a.m., Dahmer, Anderson and Scarver were escorted to their work assignment cleaning the bathrooms next to the gym. The guard left the three men alone to do their work. Go figure this innocent mistake – leaving three volatile murderers together, especially one who thought himself to be the Son of God, who without a doubt, might feel that justice needed to be served on the other two.
Within twenty minutes of being left alone and unguarded, Dahmer was found lying in a pool of blood, his head crushed in, and Anderson fatally injured. A bloody broom handle seemed to represent Scarver’s statement on the subject. Jeffrey Dahmer was pronounced dead at 9:11 a.m.
May Jeremy rest in Peace.
A Letter from Jeremy to Steven Toushin
Jeremy had written to me while I was in prison and while going through some files pertaining to my prison years, I found one of Jeremy’s letters to me:
Hi! Don’t be angry I’m using the office stationary to write you. I didn’t want to send you a “Religious Holiday Greeting” since you seem to celebrate the customs more for festivities’ sake than belief. And maybe seeing something so ordinary from the business you built will give you a bit of joy and pride (which you need now!).
We all expect you back very soon. I know that by 5:05 pm if I haven’t brought up all my charges to David, I always expect to see you by my desk at 5:10 pm to make sure sales are “still coming!” Besides, it’s ridiculous to think that someone who cares so much for his employees & the gay community could be held so long, when a rapist or murderer usually only does 2 to 3 years with good behavior.
And with all the mistakes I’ve made at the Bijou (3 years worth!), the government should know the person owing anyone would be me. I wish you the best, & everyone misses you. Come Back Soon!! And don’t worry, you have the “Wonderful Ms. Randy” keeping things smooth.
You will return to a prospering business.
To Your New Years,
P.S. The new catalog is super! I hope you’ve seen it. I’m sorry this letter is so sloppy, but if I took time to erase & be neater, I would have to put it off, and I wanted you to at least get the thought (if not the neatness!).
[Although Jeremy apologizes in the P.S. portion that the letter would have taken longer had he made it neater, on every page of the three-page letter there are elaborate drawings of angels; and it’s clear that every picture was done in pencil first, erased a few times, and then done in ink. Funny how he couldn’t make it neater, but he had the time to draw angels!]
The Aftermath of this Tragedy was More Tragedy
This piece on Jeffrey Dahmer is very personal and very tragic, for Dahmer not only brutally killed young men, but he also killed Jeremy. In 1994, two and a half years after the trial ended, Teddy Jones died, I believe as a direct result of Jeremy’s terrible murder.
The Bijou office mourned for Jeremy for about two years, and Teddy, Jeremy’s best friend, mourned until his own death. Teddy was grief-stricken for his best friend, and he also had terrible bouts of guilt because the night Jeremy met Dahmer, Jeremy had asked Teddy what he thought of this man and whether Jeremy should go to Milwaukee with him. Teddy never got over the fact that he told Jeremy to go and have a good time with Dahmer, that his instincts were so terribly wrong.
Teddy was a party guy, and after Jeremy’s death, he got more into partying, drinking and drugs. Teddy quit working with me at the Bijou office six months after Dahmer was sent to prison. He lived in a building that I owned, so I still saw Teddy, with his happy-go-lucky smile and his little dog Thor.
One year after Teddy stopped working for me, he asked me for a job. We had a long talk; he wanted to turn his life around and he was seeking help. He had stopped the partying and drugging. Teddy worked for me again for about 6 to 8 months. He was happy and doing well, and the Bijou office was happy to have him back.
Then one night he went out partying again, a special occasion, so it was said. His system could not handle the amount of shit he put into his body that night. At one time he probably could have handled what he put into his system, but he had lost his tolerance. He came home and knocked on his neighbor’s door asking for help and when the door opened, Teddy stumbled in and collapsed, dying in his neighbor’s arms.
Teddy Jones was Dahmer’s last victim.
* * *
To refresh my memory, parts of this chapter were derived from the following sources:
Windy City Times, July 25, 1991, Jeff McCourt’s exclusive interview with Teddy Jones.
Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1992, article by Roger Worthington
Chicago Sun-Times, February 9, 1992, article by Maureen O’Donnell
Chicago Sun-Times, February 18, 1992, article by Maureen O’Donnell
This story is adapted from the original series of articles printed in The Bijou Chronicles: Sex, Crimes, and other Indiscretions by Steven Toushin, June-October, 2002