From 1978 to 1991, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer tortured and murdered 17 young men and boys. Here are their forgotten stories.
Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. Beginning in 1978, the “Milwaukee Monster” butchered at least 17 young men and boys. He even cannibalized some of them. And his heinous crimes continued until he was finally caught in 1991. But though his story is well known around the world, less is known about Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims.
They were all young, ranging in age from 14 to 32. Many of them were gay ethnic minorities, and nearly all of them were impoverished and extremely vulnerable. Some of them dreamt of appearing on stage or in magazines. Others simply wanted to have a fun night out with their friends.
But tragically, they all had the misfortune to cross Jeffrey Dahmer’s path.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s First Victim, June 1978: Steven Hicks
The story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims starts with Steven Hicks, an 18-year-old hitchhiker on his way to a rock concert, who Dahmer picked up in Ohio. By that point, Dahmer, a recent high school graduate, had long fantasized about raping men. But he claimed that he didn’t intend to kill Hicks.
“The first killing was not planned,” Dahmer told Inside Edition in 1993, though he said he’d thought about picking up a hitchhiker and “controlling” him.
Suggesting they share a drink, Jeffrey Dahmer brought Hicks to his mother’s home in Bath Township, Ohio. But when Hicks tried to leave, Dahmer bludgeoned him with a barbell, strangled him, and dismembered his body.
Hicks was the first of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims. But though Dahmer would not kill again for almost a decade, Hicks was far from the last.
September 1987: Steven Tuomi
Though Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t kill anyone between 1978 and 1987, he continued to indulge his dark fantasies. During his short stint in the U.S. Army, he allegedly raped two of his fellow soldiers, Billy Joe Capshaw and Preston Davis, both of whom survived the terrifying incidents. And as a civilian, Dahmer was arrested multiple times for exposing himself in public.
The urge to kill, he later said, had never entirely gone away. “There just wasn’t an opportunity to fully express what I wanted to do,” he told Inside Edition. “There was just not the physical opportunity to do it then.”
But in September 1987, Dahmer found an opportunity when he met Steven Tuomi, who was around 24 or 25, in a bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dahmer brought Tuomi to his hotel intending, he claimed, to drug and rape him.
Instead, Dahmer awoke to find Tuomi dead.
“I had no intention of hurting him,” Dahmer insisted on Inside Edition. “When I woke up in the morning he had a broken rib… he was heavily bruised. Apparently, I had beaten him to death with my fists.”
From there, the number of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims would swiftly expand.
October 1987: James Doxtator
The first two victims of Jeffrey Dahmer were close to the killer’s age. But his third victim, James Doxtator, was just 14 when he crossed Dahmer’s path.
As Dahmer later told detectives, he lured the child to the basement of his grandmother’s house in West Allis, Wisconsin, by promising him $50 to pose for nude photos. Instead, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Dahmer drugged him, raped him, strangled him, and dismembered his body.
Then, Dahmer destroyed Doxtator’s remains with a sledgehammer.
March 1988: Richard Guerrero
Jeffrey Dahmer met his next victim, 22-year-old Richard Guerrero, outside of a Milwaukee bar. Per Biography, Dahmer offered him $50 to return with him to his grandmother’s home, where Dahmer drugged and strangled him.
He then had sex with Guerrero’s corpse and dismembered his body.
March 1989: Anthony Sears
Like many of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims, 24-year-old aspiring model Anthony Sears met his killer at a bar. Dahmer convinced Sears to accompany him to his grandmother’s home, where he drugged and strangled him.
Dahmer also kept gruesome trophies from this murder — Sears’ head and genitals — because he’d found Sears “exceptionally attractive.”
After this crime, there was a gap between Anthony Sears and the following murder victims of Jeffrey Dahmer — but not because the killer had a change of heart. In May 1989, he was sentenced to a year in prison for sexually assaulting 13-year-old Keison Sinthasomphone in September 1988.
Soon after he was released, Jeffrey Dahmer killed again.
May 1990: Raymond Smith
After leaving prison, Jeffrey Dahmer moved into an apartment at 924 North 25th Street in Milwaukee. He soon met a 32-year-old sex worker named Raymond Smith. Dahmer offered Smith $50 to come home with him.
Back at his new apartment, Dahmer drugged Smith, strangled him to death, and took photos of Smith’s corpse. He then dismembered Smith’s body but preserved his skull, which he kept next to Sears’ remains.
June 1990: Edward Smith
Though Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims had been mostly strangers, the killer was actually acquainted with his seventh victim, 27-year-old Edward Smith. They’d apparently been seen together at clubs before, and at Dahmer’s trial, Smith’s brother alleged that Smith had “tried to be Jeffrey Dahmer’s friend.”
Instead, Jeffrey Dahmer killed him and stashed some of his body parts in his freezer until they started to degrade and fall apart.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims Of September 1990: Ernest Miller And David Thomas
Two of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims were killed during the month of September 1990: 22-year-old Ernest Miller and 22-year-old David Thomas.
Miller was murdered first. Unlike most of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims, who were drugged and strangled to death, Miller’s throat was cut. Per Biography, Dahmer also experimented with eating parts of Miller’s body.
“I was branching out, that’s when the cannibalism started,” Dahmer later told Inside Edition. “The eating of the heart and the arm muscle. It was a way of making me feel that [my victims] were a part of me.”
Three weeks later, Dahmer met Thomas and lured him back to his apartment. Returning to his original modus operandi, Dahmer drugged and strangled him. However, he chose not to keep any of his body parts.
February 1991: Curtis Straughter
After a brief pause in murdering people, Jeffrey Dahmer killed again. This time, he used his usual trick of offering money for nude photos to 17-year-old Curtis Straughter, who agreed to return to Dahmer’s apartment.
There, Dahmer drugged, strangled, photographed, and dismembered him. He then kept various parts of his body, both to cannibalize and save as trophies.
April 1991: Errol Lindsey
Of all of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims, 19-year-old Errol Lindsey suffered one of the most agonizing deaths, as he was kept alive for a gruesome experiment. After luring Lindsey back to his apartment, Dahmer drugged him — and then drilled a hole in his head and poured hydrochloric acid into it.
The killer allegedly hoped to keep Lindsey alive but subdued, in a permanent “zombie-like” state. But the experiment didn’t work. Lindsey woke up, complaining of a headache, and Dahmer strangled him to death.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims Of May 1991: Anthony Hughes And Konerak Sinthasomphone
Though the next two victims of Jeffrey Dahmer were both killed in the month of May 1991, they have completely different stories from each other.
Dahmer met the first victim, 31-year-old Anthony Hughes, at a Milwaukee gay bar, according to the Associated Press. Hughes, who was deaf, agreed to go home with Dahmer. Dahmer then drugged him and strangled him.
Not long afterward, Dahmer lured 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone — the younger brother of the boy he’d assaulted back in 1988 — to his apartment. With Hughes’ body on the floor (but still in one piece), Dahmer attempted his “drilling” experiment again on Sinthasomphone.
But though he’d injected hydrochloric acid into Sinthasomphone’s head, the 14-year-old managed to escape while Dahmer was out of the apartment. Dahmer returned to find his victim woozy but talking to women on the street, who had alerted the police. Though the authorities soon showed up, Dahmer managed to convince them that he and Sinthasomphone merely had a lover’s quarrel — and that Sinthasomphone was 19 years old.
After leading Sinthasomphone away from the concerned women, Dahmer then tried his drilling experiment again, which killed Sinthasomphone.
June 1991: Matthew Turner
One of the last of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims, 20-year-old Matthew Turner died just like many others had. After Dahmer convinced Turner to come back to his apartment, he drugged, strangled, and dismembered him.
Dahmer then preserved some of Turner’s body parts in his freezer.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims Of July 1991: Jeremiah Weinberger, Oliver Lacy, And Joseph Bradehoft
In July 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer butchered three men — and attempted to murder a fourth. In a two-week span, he killed 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger, 24-year-old Oliver Lacy, and 25-year-old Joseph Bradehoft.
But on July 22, 1991, just days after killing Bradehoft, Jeffrey Dahmer’s luck ran out at last. After he lured 32-year-old Tracy Edwards to his apartment by offering to pay him for nude photos, Edwards managed to escape. He flagged down a police car and brought officers to Dahmer’s apartment.
There, police found more than enough evidence to see that Edwards was far from the only victim of Jeffrey Dahmer. The medical examiner later noted that Dahmer’s home contained so many body parts that: “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene.”
The Tragic Legacy Of Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims
In the aftermath of his arrest, Jeffrey Dahmer became one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Stories of his murders — and cannibalism — shocked and captivated people across the country. But Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims were often seen as a footnote to his crimes.
Many of his victims’ families say that Dahmer was able to commit murders for so long because of who he targeted: mostly ethnic minorities, many of whom were Black, and known to be gay. But they hope that their loved ones can be remembered for more than just dying at Dahmer’s hand.
At Dahmer’s trial — where he’d be sentenced to life in prison — Errol Lindsey’s older sister Rita Isbell screamed, “Jeffrey, I hate you,” called him “Satan,” and even charged his table in the courtroom. After she was escorted out by authorities, she said, “[The other relatives] all had to just sit there and hold it in. What he saw out of me… is what Errol would have done. The only difference is, Errol would have leaped over that table.”
And in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Luis Rios, a cousin of Ernest Miller, simply said, “My cousin Ernest was a human being.”
He continued, “He wasn’t No. 15. He wasn’t No. 18… Let them die with respect. Don’t let them die as mere numbers.”