KNOWN as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer admittedly killed at least 17 men during the span of the years from 1978 to 1991.
Who was Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, Joyce?
In a 1994 television special titled, The Making of Jeffrey Dahmer, Oprah Winfrey posed the question: “When we hear about such grizzly crimes as this, a lot of us ask ourselves, ‘Who were his parents?'”
“I know I did. ‘How was he raised?’ What happened to the child?”
There are many theories about life events and causes that could have caused Joyce’s son, Jeffrey, to become a serial killer.
In her ex-husband Lionel Dahmer’s memoir “A Father’s Story,” he seeks answers about what he and his ex-wife could have done differently.
While Lionel admits to being largely absent during his son’s early years, he also alleges that Joyce was given prescription drugs while pregnant with Jeffrey.
He also claims in the book that Joyce was despondent after giving birth to Jeffrey and refused to touch him for fear of getting germs on him.
He also claimed that she grew dependent on drugs.
But despite his claims, Joyce had a master’s degree in counseling herself.
While she never denied her own flaws or addressed her ex-husband’s claims about drug addiction to the public, she visited her son in prison several times, flying from her new home in California back to Wisconsin, where he was locked up.
In California, she worked with HIV and AIDS patients, who she reportedly loved to take care of.
Joyce died in November of 2000 from breast cancer.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Julio Mastro, the executive director of the HIV community center where Joyce worked, said: “She was enthusiastic, and she was compassionate, and she turned her own tragedy into being able to have a great deal of empathy for people with HIV.”
What did Joyce say about her son’s crimes?
Joyce argued against her ex-husband’s theory that there were warning signs or that their son was shy.
She told MSNBC in an interview that he was a “perfectly normal young boy.”
But the weight of her son’s crimes certainly weighed on Joyce.
In a 1993 interview with Deseret News, she said: “I wake up every morning and for a split second I don’t know I’m Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, and then it all floods in.”
She also said in an interview with Hard Copy in 1994 that she felt the need to reach out to other parents and family members of murderers who might feel the same type of grief, blame, and ostracization that she felt.
She told the outlet that she had plans to counter her husband’s claims and write a book about her side of raising a serial killer but that no publishers seemed interested.
In 1994, just months before Jeffrey Dahmer was killed by another prisoner, Joyce attempted to take her own life.
After surviving her suicide attempt, she expressed gratitude for having lived.
What happened to Jeffrey’s younger brother, David?
Wanting nothing to do with the infamy that would follow him eternally as Jeffrey Dahmer’s brother, David reportedly changed his name.
He also is believed to have moved far from his family, where no one would know who he was.