Meet Christopher Scarver — The Man Who Killed Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer

Published March 15, 2018
Updated February 4, 2019
Published March 15, 2018
Updated February 4, 2019

Christopher Scarver, the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer at Wisconsin's Columbia Correctional Institution in 1994, didn't like the notorious killer's crimes. So he did something about it.

Christopher Scarver The Man Who Killed Jeffrey Dahmer

YouTubeJeffrey Dahmer, Christopher Scarver

On November 28, 1994, Christopher Scarver, an inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, was assigned to clean the prison’s gymnasium along with two other inmates. One inmate was named Jesse Anderson. The other inmate was infamous cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. The struggle that took place behind closed doors brought about what dozens of his victims couldn’t: Jeffrey Dahmer’s death.

Christopher Scarver Goes To Jail

Christopher Scarver Mug Shot

Wikimedia CommonsChristopher Scarver’s mug shot. 1992.

Christopher Scarver — the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer — was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After he dropped out of high school and his mother kicked him out of the house, Scarver secured a position through the Youth Conservation Corps program as a trainee carpenter.

A supervisor of the program allegedly told Scarver that once he completed the program, he would become a full-time employee. But that never happened.

On the first day of June in 1990, a disgruntled Scarver went to the office of the training program. Steve Lohman, a former boss, was working there. Scarver said that the program owed him money and demanded Lohman give it to him. When Lohman only gave him 15 dollars, Scarver shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

The man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested a few hours later, sitting on the stoop of his girlfriend’s apartment building.

During Scarver’s trial, a police officer testified that Scarver had told the arresting officers he planned to turn himself in because he knew what he did was wrong. In 1992, Christopher Scarver was convicted and given a life sentence behind bars.

That same year, the “Milwaukee Cannibal” made headlines as a jury sentenced him to 15 terms of life imprisonment. And this prison term would end with Jeffrey Dahmer’s death.

The Prison Sentence That Led To Jeffrey Dahmer’s Death

Dahmer Prison

EUGENE GARCIA/AFP/Getty ImagesJeffrey Dahmer is sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment. 1992.

Jeffrey Dahmer was never destined to have an easy time in prison.

His crimes had been covered by virtually every major news outlet, and his name had become synonymous with cannibalism.

The 17 murders he pled guilty to made him a serial killer, and the condition in which police found his victims’ bodies — dismembered, preserved, and prepared for consumption — made him no less a source of revulsion to prison inmates than to the rest of the country.

Then, too, there was the fact that he was gay and had raped his young male victims, a crime that carried a particular stigma in the culture of the world behind bars.

In short, though the judge had spared Dahmer from death row (the state of Wisconsin prohibits capital punishment), a prison term of any length was really a death sentence for the Milwaukee Cannibal.

The only remaining question was when.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s Life In Prison

Solitary Confinement

Jobs for Felons Hub / FlickrA solitary confinement cell like the one in which Dahmer spent his first year in prison.

Before that day in November of 1994, Christopher Scarver had only watched Dahmer from afar.

At first, Scarver didn’t pay much attention to the cannibal. Dahmer’s first year in the Columbia Correctional Institution had been a quiet one; he was kept, with his consent, in solitary confinement, minimizing the impact of his presence on the other inmates for his own protection.

But after a year of isolation, Dahmer was restless. He reportedly told family members that he didn’t care what happened to him. Having become a born-again Christian during his incarceration, he was prepared to repent and meet his maker.

So Dahmer left solitary and joined prison life — but according to Scarver, the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer eventually, he wasn’t repentant at all.

Scarver claimed that Dahmer would use prison food and ketchup to replicate bloody severed limbs as a means of taunting the other inmates.

Scarver also said that he witnessed a few heated interactions between Dahmer and other prisoners — a claim that was borne out when fellow inmate Osvaldo Durruthy attempted to slash Dahmer’s neck with a razor in front of guards.

Dahmer wasn’t seriously hurt, and he continued to participate in regular prison activities — until November 28, 1994, when there were no guards.

Christopher Scarver: The Man Who Killed Jeffrey Dahmer

Columbia Prison

Wikimedia CommonsThe Columbia Correctional Institution near Portage, Wisconsin, where Jeffrey Dahmer and Christopher Scarver were incarcerated.

Christopher Scarver would later say he was provoked that day while they were cleaning the gymnasium: Someone poked him in the back, and he wasn’t sure whether it was Anderson or Dahmer, but they both snickered.

So Christopher Scarver took a 20-inch metal bar off a piece of exercise equipment. He cornered Dahmer by a locker room and pulled out a newspaper clipping that he had been keeping in his pocket, confronting the notorious cannibal with a detailed account of his crimes. Thus began the confrontation that ended with Jeffrey Dahmer’s death.

“I asked him if he did those things ’cause I was fiercely disgusted,” said Scarver.

With no guards around, 25-year-old Christopher Scarver struck Dahmer over the head twice with the metal bar and smashed his head against the wall. He then bludgeoned Anderson to death.

Dahmer was found still alive with extreme head and facial injuries. He was taken to the hospital, where he was then pronounced dead.

“Some people who are in prison are repentant,” Scarver said in the wake of Jeffrey Dahmer’s death, “but he was not one of them.”

For the murder of Jeffrey Dahmer, Christopher Scarver received two additional life sentences. He was transferred to several different prisons after the attack and is now in the Centennial Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colorado.

CNN interviews Christopher Scarver’s son in 2014.

Scarver claimed guards left him alone on purpose because they wanted to see Dahmer dead and they knew Scarver didn’t like him.

Though the crime was intentional, the man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer had complained of delusional thoughts he was having in prison. Prison doctors have conducted over 10 evaluations regarding Scarver’s mental state.

The man who killed Jeffrey Dahmer has his own theory, which involves the prison food. “Certain foods I eat cause me to have a psychotic break,” he said, adding, “bread, refined sugar — those are the main culprits.”

More recently, Scarver has taken to poetry, publishing a book from jail in 2015 titled God Seed: Poetry of Christopher J. Scarver. The Amazon summary describes it as “A poetic vision of the world as seen through prison walls. Christopher’s poetry describes his journey from despair, to hope, from mistrust to finding the good in others.”


If you liked this article on Christopher Scarver and Jeffrey Dahmer’s death, read up on the story of Jeffrey Dahmer. Then check out the best serial killer documentaries.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.
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