MILWUAKEE’S mayor is afraid of luring “ghoulish” people and “Jeffrey Dahmer acolytes” by erecting a physical memorial for his victims where his apartment once stood.
The exploding popularity of Netflix’s Dahmer docuseries has renewed calls for a victims’ memorial, which Milkwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson agrees with conceptually, his spokesperson Jeff Fleming told The U.S. Sun.
He “would rather hear the victims‘ names than Dahmer’s”, said Fleming, who was a journalist at the time of the Dahmer murders and covered the “The Milwaukee Cannibal” for years.
“The crimes still resonate in Milwaukee,” he said.
But there’s concern that the memorial will become a beacon for people who worship Dahmer, Fleming said, however the mayor is open to all suggestions.
There were a couple of scenes in the Netflix series where Dahmer received groupie-type fan letters while he was in prison.
Lisa Dadio, a retired police lieutenant who teaches at the University of New Haven, said a “fascination” with serial killers always exists where people “became enamored and literally fall in love with the epitome of a bad guy”.
She said it usually starts with letters saying they think the killer is innocent, then they might send x-rated pictures and it escalates from there.
“They go and meet them in jail, and some of them have gotten married to these serial killers and have conjugal visits it really goes to the extreme,” Dadio added.
“Let’s think about some of the things that made them a serial killer to begin with. For a lot of them, it was charm when they targeted their victims, and so that doesn’t just stop.
“And I think that there’s a piece of thrill for the thrill seeker that just wants to be connected somehow or to be the girlfriend, the wife, the boyfriend of so and so to a serial killer and this whole notoriety.”
In the case of a potential physical memorial for Dahmer’s victims, Dadio said there’s always a concern that it draws out a copycat.
“(A memorial) could be a trigger for someone who wants the notoriety,” she said.
There’s a chance for a potential copycat “to have instant gratification and notoriety by publicizing the crimes”, Dadio said.
RE-TRAUMATIZING VICTIMS’ FAMILIES
The flip side of the public’s attraction to stories like Dahmer’s is it forces victims’ families to relive the horror all over again.
Even if they chose not to watch it, they know it exists and it can spread like wildfire on social media.
The viral popularity of the series coupled with reporters’ phone calls brings the families right back to the darkest times of their lives.
“That’s the downside to this incident, as well as all the other ones that are constantly replayed,” Dadio said.
“We never stopped to think about the impact that it has on the victims’ families, or for some of those cases the survivors who got away. That goes for any violent crimes.”
Dahmer murdered 17 people between 1978 and 1991.
He cut up most of his victims, kept body parts as trophies and cannibalized some of his victims for sexual gratification, he told investigators, according to FBI documents reviewed by The U.S. Sun.
Dahmer lured his victims – almost all of whom were either Hispanic or black and part of LGBT communities – back to his apartment and offered to pay them for nude photographs.
His apartment was equipped with $400 worth of security cameras and outfitted with different locks on the bedroom, bathroom and front door, according to the FBI documents.
Once inside, he followed a similar MO that started out by sneaking sedatives in his victims’ drinks.
In the FBI files, Dahmer said he used fans to try to get rid of the smell, which was an important part of the Netflix series because his neighbor Cleveland couldn’t escape the smell coming in through the vents.
While searching his home, officers discovered a bedside table drawer full of disturbing Polaroid photographs of his victims and their dismembered bodies.
By September 14, 1991, he was charged with 16 murders, many of them committed at his apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.