Oxygen's upcoming two-night documentary, Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks, promises to tell serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's story using his own words. However, that might be a little difficult considering Dahmer is long dead. But when did Jeffrey Dahmer die? He's been gone for over 20 years, so the Oxygen special will use past interviews and old footage of him as well as new discussions with those who knew him.
Dahmer died in prison on Nov. 28, 1994. He had been arrested three years earlier and convicted of 15 counts of murder, though he had 17 victims in total. Dahmer was serving 15 life sentences at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Wisconsin when he was killed by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver, who was also serving a life sentence for murder. Both men, along with fellow inmate Jesse Anderson, had been on cleaning duty in the gym bathroom when Scarver attacked and beat them both to death. Dahmer was 34 years old.
It had not been the first attempt on Dahmer's life while he was imprisoned. According to a People article from 1994, an unnamed inmate had tried to slit Dahmer's throat in the prison chapel, but Dahmer declined to press charges. People who knew him in the weeks and months before his death made it seem as though he was not worried about any danger he might face in prison. A retired FBI criminologist named Robert Ressler who interviewed Dahmer said, "I don't think he was particularly concerned with living. He said that anything society had for him, he knew he deserved."
Initially, Scarver's motives for the murder were unknown. Reports from the time indicated that many thought racial tension may have played a part, because Scarver was black and both Dahmer and Anderson had targeted men of color in their crimes. Many of Dahmer's victims were black, Hispanic, or Asian, and Anderson had killed his wife then tried to blame it on two black men. Later, however, Scarver spoke to the NY Post about why he did it.
Scarver said he hated Dahmer, whom Scarver felt did not have remorse for his crimes. "He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff," Scarver said. "Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them." He also cited Dahmer's uncomfortable humor as a source of conflict, saying Dahmer would use the prison food to create fake severed limbs and drizzle them with ketchup to stand in for blood.
Dahmer was known for incidents like that dating back to his days in high school when he would fake seizures and fits. While in prison, he allegedly joked to other inmates, "I bite," and also posted a Cannibals Anonymous flyer on the bulletin board. Though he supposedly found religion while behind bars, the fact that he was also making light of his horrific crimes is telling.
Scarver didn't interact much with Dahmer before the murder, but reportedly kept an article about Dahmer's crimes in his pocket. When they were left alone for 20 minutes while cleaning, Scarver said one of the other men poked his back. "I turned around," he said, "and [Dahmer] and Jesse were kind of laughing under their breath. I looked right into their eyes, and I couldn't tell which had done it."
Scarver then confronted Dahmer alone about his crimes before killing him and then killing Anderson. Afterwards, two more life terms were added to the lifetime sentence Scarver was already serving and he was moved around to several different prisons. Apparently these days he's writing poetry that interested parties can find for sale on Amazon.
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