Lionel Dahmer, Father of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer, Died at Age 87

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Dec. 6 2023, Updated 12:25 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Lionel Dahmer, father of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, passed away on Dec. 5, 2023.
  • Throughout his life, Lionel blamed himself for the person Jeffrey became.
  • Despite what Jeffrey did, Lionel always loved his son.
Article continues below advertisement

Mere months before Jeffrey Dahmer would be killed while serving 15 life terms in prison for the murder of 16 people, his father, Lionel Dahmer, went on Larry King Live. With his wife, Shari Dahmer — Jeffrey's stepmother — by his side, Lionel came on to discuss a book he wrote. A Father's Story details Jeffrey's upbringing, but it's primarily Lionel trying to work out his own involvement in what his son would eventually do.

In the book and throughout the interview, we're given glimpses into Jeffrey's relationship with his father who, as trite as it sounds, did the best he could with what he had. Lionel's unwavering support for his son is touching and for some, surprising. Many parents might not have it in them to not give up. Jeffrey would eventually be killed in May 1994 while serving time in prison. Lionel lived a much longer life and passed away at age 87 on Dec. 5, 2023.

Article continues below advertisement

Where is Lionel Dahmer now? He passed away in December 2023.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that on Dec. 5, 2023, Lionel passed away at age 87 in hospice care in Medina County, Ohio. He was thrust into the spotlight due to his son's horrific crimes, but before that, he led a pretty full life. He was born July 29, 1930, in West Allis, Wisc. His interests in the sciences led to bachelor's and master's degrees in Science, which was followed by a "doctorate in chemistry from Iowa State in 1966."

Article continues below advertisement

While in school, Lionel met and married his first wife Joyce Flint in 1959 who would later give birth to Jeffrey and his son David. After being together for nearly two decades, they divorced in July 1978 which is when a then 18-year-old Jeffrey was left alone in his house for three months. It was at this time Lionel would also marry his second wife Shari. She passed away on Jan. 13, 2023, "at a nursing home in Medina County at age 81."

Lionel Dahmer spent a great deal of time asking himself what he could have done differently.

Hopefully, Lionel found some peace, although it's safe to assume his life was forever changed after Jeffrey's arrest in 1991. During his son's court proceedings, Lionel learned things about him he never knew. These revelations led Lionel to ask himself if there was something about his son he missed. Was this his fault?

Article continues below advertisement

Lionel told investigative reporter Stone Phillips in a February 1994 interview that it has been "eternal torment." Much of this pain stems from the realization that perhaps Lionel isn't that different from his son. In his book, Lionel wrote, "As I began to confront Jeff's childhood imaginings, it became clear to me that they had not always been wholly different from my own."

Article continues below advertisement

Lionel went on to say that, growing up, he often had dreams of murdering people. These dreams frequently came on the heels of some form of harassment, either physical or emotional, but they were there beneath the surface, never quite taking over. Whereas Jeffrey was fascinated by the inner workings of animals which presented itself in dissecting roadkill, Lionel was obsessed with homemade bombs and fire. "I felt like I was in control and I had some power. I was noticed," he told Stone Phillips.

Article continues below advertisement

Lionel Dahmer loved his son very much.

In his seemingly relentless quest to accept full responsibility for his son's actions, Lionel talked about Jeffrey's home life and how he regrets certain things his son witnessed. "There were times when he heard the shouting [between Lionel and Dahmer's mother, Joyce], and he went outside. He just left the house."

Lionel couldn't be more distraught about how his son was raised. "It makes me sick that we didn't have a more Ozzie and Harriet type family," he said. Despite that, Lionel loved his children.

When asked what he saw when looking at his son, Lionel answered the question with a great deal of possibly foolish hope. "The naive parent in me still says I see an innocent, shy child, a defenseless vulnerable child who I wish I could help now."

A decade later while in conversation with Larry King, Lionel stated it simply. "I loved him very deeply."

More from Distractify

Latest Netflix News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.