Jeffrey Dahmer's Parents Claim They Didn't Abuse Him as a Child

What is it like to be the parent of an infamous serial killer? That's what Jeffrey Dahmer's parents have to live with in a new Discovery documentary.

Sara Belcher - Author

May 25 2020, Updated 5:00 p.m. ET

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Source: Getty

Infamous serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer's horrific spree of killings from 1978 to 1991 haunts the country and true crime fanatics alike. After his arrest in 1991, his upbringing was highly scrutinized, looking for any signs that could indicate how he became the killer he was.

In a new documentary from Discovery, Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster, Dahmer's parents detail the killer's childhood and his upbringing. 

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Who are Jeffrey Dahmer's parents?

Dahmer's parents, Lionel and Joyce, have been open about their son's upbringing, admitting they had no idea he was unwell when he was younger. They claim to have raised him in a normal household and, despite Lionel and Joyce's divorce and separation, claim he was not abused as a child, unlike most serial killers.

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Source: Getty

Jeffrey Dahmer's childhood home.

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Lionel admits, in his book A Father's Notebook, that he was largely absent during Dahmer's younger years, due to his status as a student pursuing a degree in chemistry, and admits that while he thought he was doing the boy no harm while raising him, he feels he bears some of the responsibility for Dahmer's outcome.

"I really want to tell parents what I think they should look for in rearing their children," Lionel said in an interview on Larry King Live. 

He detailed that the only red flag from Dahmer's childhood, that he and Joyce did not find out about until much later, was that he spent his time between the ages of 12 and 14 biking around rural roads, collecting roadkill and keeping a stash of the dead animals.

"If I had known about the roadkill, that would've been a red flag," Lionel said. "I would've done something immediately, intervened. But before that, there wasn't really anything."

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Source: YouTube/CNN

He described his son as extremely shy growing up, which was likely what led to Dahmer's ability to keep secrets from his parents and friends growing up.

"Don't disregard shyness," Lionel warns other parents.

Lionel is also interviewed in Jeffrey Dahmer: The Mind of a Monster, detailing Dahmer's mostly average childhood and his attempts to help his son as he began to see the red flags.

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How many people did Jeffrey Dahmer kill?

When Dahmer was free and at the height of his killing spree, he was known as the "Milwaukee Cannibal." In total, he kidnapped and killed 17 people, with his first murder taking place just three weeks after his high school graduation.

Out of his victims, only one managed to escape: Ronald Flowers. In the Discovery documentary, Ronald details his capture and eventual escape from Dahmer's clutches.

jeffrey dahmer
Source: Getty
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What happened to Jeffrey Dahmer?

Dahmer was captured in 1991 and initially tried for 16 of the 17 murders he committed. The trial found him guilty of 15 of those murders, and sentenced him to 15 different life sentences, ensuring he would never be let out on parole. While in prison, he was convicted for the first murder he committed when he was only 18.

Only three and a half years after his sentencing, Dahmer was beaten to death in prison by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver, who was open about his distaste for Dahmer.

Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster airs on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. on Monday, May 25.

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