Harold Jaffe's docufiction

by Harold Jaffe

cover image of 15 Serial Killersfrom 15 Serial Killers
(Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2003)

Konerak Sinthasomphone

     What are the Milwaukee cops supposed do with a name like that?
     Flattened nose, coarse black hair, slanted lidless eyes.
     Adolescent? Granddaddy? No way to tell with orientals.
     Wednesday, April 17, 1991, 2:20 a.m.
     Raunchy, high-crime, inner city sector near Marquette University.
     Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14, small, naked, bruised and bloody, is running for his life.
     But he's not screaming, not making a sound.
     The oriental tends to be silent or hysterically noisy, rarely in between.
     A young black woman, Harriet Cross, sees the naked panicked boy from her third story window and dials 911.
     The paramedics get to him first, cover his nakedness with a blanket.
     Rousted from the all-night donut shop, the police pull up in their patrol car.
     Biceps, Beretta 9 mm's, disabling gasses, billy clubs.
     Here they call them Tyrone clubs because the cops are always whacking black folks.
     The miniature Asian is squatting silently on the pavement in a blanket beside the paramedic van.
     He seems to be trembling.
     On one side is Harriet Cross and her mother Luella Cleveland.
     On the other side is a tall, stiff, 30-ish white man with dirty blond hair. Jeffrey Dahmer.
     In his deceptively calm manner, Dahmer is explaining to the cops that Konerak is his 18-year-old lover who swallowed too much sweet wine and fell on his face.
     Harriet Cross and Luella Cleveland protest that the Asian boy was trying to resist the blond man who was punching and kicking him on the street.
     The cops, like the biblical Solomon, have got to make a decision.
     The tall stiff white dude is an identifiable homo that sexes with colored orientals.
     A combo any righteous cop's gonna hate from his heart.
     But the other two are mouthy black females.
     No contest.
     The two cops in their thick black shoes escort the blanketed oriental and tall white fag to Dahmer's one bedroom apartment on the second floor of 924 North 25th Street, the Oxford Apartments.
     The apartment smells funny but is neat.
     Homos tend to be neat.
     The oriental kid's clothes are draped over a chair.
     Two Polaroid photos of the boy in his paisley bikini underwear are tacked to the wall above the sofa.
     Konerak puts on his pants and shirt that were on the chair, then sits on the edge of the sofa, still mute.
     Dahmer is sweet-talking, promising that future lovers' spats will not spill over on to the street.
     The cops yawn. They're getting hungry.
     They nod and leave the 14-year-old Laotian boy with Jeffrey Dahmer.
     Case closed.
     Had the Milwaukee cops glanced into the bedroom they would have found the decomposing remains of a 17-year-old black teen named Clarence McKee.
     The police have scarcely left the Oxford Apartments, when Dahmer strangles Konerak Sinthasomphone.
     Scarcely settled their thick rumps into the patrol car, when Dahmer anally sodomizes the corpse.
     He beheads the corpse and boils the head.
     Fits the skinned head into the freezer alongside the other heads.
     Dissects the body, excising the genitals which he puts into a large jar of formaldehyde filled with genitals.

Ambrosia Chocolate

     Jeffrey Dahmer moves from his grandmother's house in West Allis, Wisconsin to the Oxford Apartments in Milwaukee in September 25, 1988.
     By then he's killed and dismembered at least four young men and boys.
     Modus operandi: hit on a mark at a gay bar or bathhouse and offer him $$ to come back to Dahmer's grandmother's house and pose for Polaroids.
     Once in his grandmother's basement, Dahmer drugs the mark's drink, strangles him with his hands or his old army belt, orally and/or anally sodomizes the corpse, dismembers it.
     Depending on his mood, he will cannibalize the corpse, sever a bicep, say, deep fry it in Crisco.
     The cannibalization becomes a regular occurrence as the murders multiply.
     The day after moving into the Oxford Apartments, Dahmer accosts a 13-year-old Laotian boy and offers him $25 to pose for Polaroids.
     He dopes the boy's diet Pepsi and anally rapes him.
     Then, for reasons unknown, Dahmer releases him.
     The 13-year-old Laotian's name is Saravane Sinthasomphone, by coincidence, the older brother of Konerak Sinthasomphone, whom Dahmer will murder in 1991.
     Saravane reports the incident to his parents who take him to the emergency room.
     After a seven-hour wait, it is confirmed that he's been drugged and anally raped.
     The police arrest Dahmer at the Ambrosia Chocolate factory where he works as a "mixer," presumably while wearing latex gloves and a hairnet.
     The charge is sexual exploitation of a child and second-degree sexual assault.
     Dahmer pleads guilty but insists that the boy said he was nineteen.
     While awaiting sentence, Dahmer picks up a 22-year-old black man named Harvey Shammgod at a gay bathhouse, offers him money to model, brings him back to his apartment on 924 North 25th Street, drugs him, strangles him, sodomizes then cannibalizes his corpse.
     Harvey Shammgod's death is either not reported or reported but not logged by the police.
     At his sentencing Dahmer, on trial for sexual assault, has now murdered at least five young males.
     He speaks on his own behalf, blames his assault of the Laotian boy on his alcoholism, vows to turn his life around, promises to enroll in AA.
     It is, as these things go, a smooth performance.
     The old white judge buys it and gives Dahmer a suspended sentence.
     Interestingly, Dahmer's father, Lionel, writes to the court pleading that his son not be released until he receives psychiatric treatment.
     Lionel Dahmer's plea is set aside.
     Two days after his release on January 16, 1989, Jeffrey Dahmer kills again.
     In the next fourteen months he will savage and murder twelve more young men and boys.

Sex Slave

     By now Dahmer has the drill down.
     Accost the mark at a bar or bathhouse, lure him back to the Oxford Apartments by promising him money to pose or inviting him to drink beer and watch pornographic videos.
     Drug the mark by adding pulverized prescription sleeping pills to his drink.
     Strangle the mark, sodomize, dismember and cannibalize the corpse.
     Masturbate while handling the warm, stinking, rainbow-colored viscera of the cut-open body.
     After stripping the edible portions and severing the head and genitals, dispose of the corpse.
     The skinned heads store in the freezer, the genitalia in large jars of formaldehyde, the strips of edible flesh wrapped in tin foil in the fridge.
     Experiment with spices and tenderizers to make the flesh more palatable.
     Experiment with various methods of disposing of the corpse: potent acids, chemical mixtures that reduce flesh, bone and viscera to slime.
     Flush the residue down the toilet.
     If the residue is lumpy or bony, dump it into a sewer outside.
     One novelty Dahmer hits upon is drilling a hole in the victim's skull while he is drugged but alive.
     Filling the vacuum with hydrochloric acid.
     The idea is to turn the victim into a kind of zombie or sex slave that will do Dahmer's bidding absolutely.
     That initiative leads nowhere.
     And if someone discovers the beheaded heads?
     Dahmer paints them grey to imitate plastic lab models.
     What about his neighbors in the Oxford Apartments?
     The drilling, the agonizing shrieks, the stench of chemicals and decomposition?
     The neighbors are mostly working-class African-Americans who evidently are more tolerant of eccentricity than other humans.
     In truth Dahmer does not take strict measures to prevent getting caught.
     He is caught when a mark, Reginald Edwards, 20, escapes from Dahmer's clutches with one handcuff dangling from his wrist.
     The young black man leads the skeptical cops back to Dahmer's apartment.
     Dahmer, rational, composed, launches into his explanation, even displaying the key to the handcuffs.
     One of the cops shuffles into the bedroom to have a look and, in a trembling voice, shouts to his partner.
     "Vince, cuff the son of a bitch."
     When Dahmer hears those fateful words he starts to flail and kick.
     After he's bitch-slapped and cuffed, the cops have a closer look around.
     Skinned heads in the freezer.
     Strips of flesh in the fridge.
     Genitals in large jars of formaldehyde.
     Bits of bone and cartilage under foot.
     The sweet-sour stench of decomposition.

Once Upon a Time

     Even a same-sex, serial killing, cannibalistic necrophile has a life.
     What I'm trying to say is that every narrative, no matter how squalid, must have its genesis.
     Jeffrey Lloyd Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Badger state.
     Lionel, his father, was a research chemist with a Ph.D.
     Joyce, his mother, was a substitute high school typing and shorthand teacher.
     By all accounts infant Jeffrey was a bubbly child.
     He loved animals, both real and stuffed, and was crazy about his miniature Dachshund, Pipi.
     An early incident recalled by Lionel Dahmer in his memoir A Father's Story is of the three of them: he, his wife Joyce, and four-year-old Jeffrey nursing a baby robin that injured a wing when it had flown into a window.
     Jeffrey cradled the trembling creature in his small hands, then released it into the air.
     The robin hovered briefly then flew strongly up and away.
     It was a moment, the father recounted, of a simple but powerful sharing which would never be duplicated.
     Lionel Dahmer claims that a change came over young Jeffrey after his surgery for a double hernia.
     At age six the child suddenly lost his ebullience.
     Instead of growing up he seemed to be growing in, inward.
     He became uncommunicative yet somehow fragile.
     He would sit for hours motionless staring at nothing.
     Dahmer senior attributes the change to all the moving the family was doing.
     Nor did Jeffrey have a sibling to share the anxiety since his brother David was not yet born.
     Because he was completing his doctorate at Iowa State, Lionel Dahmer moved the family in a matter of months from Milwaukee to Ames, Iowa, to Akron, Ohio, where he landed a job as a research chemist.
     Jeffrey must have felt as if his moorings were cut loose.
     At the same time, Lionel and Joyce were having marital problems.
     In Akron, the introverted Lionel spent long hours at his job, while high-strung Joyce, pregnant with David, would talk on the phone or watch TV.
     Child Jeffrey was largely left to his own devices.
     In his memoir Lionel recounts a disturbing incident which attests to young Jeffrey's growing estrangement.
     Once, when Jeff was seven, Lionel crawled under the wood frame house and dislodged some animal bones that had been rattling at night.
     Evidently, a badger had killed possums, rats and mice, feasting on them under the house.
     When Jeffrey saw the pile of animal bones his father had swept into the yard, a strange smile appeared on his face.
     In Lionel's words, the child's "small hands dug deep into the pile of bones. He seemed oddly thrilled by the sound they made. I can no longer view it simply as a childish episode, a passing fascination. This . . . sense of something dark and shadowy, of a malicious force growing in my son, now colors almost every memory."
     As an adolescent Jeffrey would collect road kill, put the remains in a trash bag, then skin and stroke the smashed, bloody creatures.
     Once he mounted the head of a large possum on a stick and thrust it into the ground next to his mother's clothesline.
     As a teenager, Jeff seemed devoid of normal interests.
     Not sports, not girls, not academic goals, not boyhood friendships.
     Lionel speculates that his son's inexpressible fascination with decomposition and death had already encircled him.
     That the boy knew there was no one to whom he could unburden himself.
     After doing poorly in high school then flunking out of Ohio State after a single semester of almost constant drunkenness, Jeff returned home to his now divorced father in Akron in Spring '79.
     Dahmer senior convinced his son to enlist in the army.
     Stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as a combat engineer, Dahmer got into fights with bunkmates toward whom he'd made indecent advances.
     After basic training his company was shipped to Düsseldorf, Germany.
     Among the Aryans, Dahmer seems to have really cut loose, drinking heavily, going AWOL, sexually accosting other servicemen.
     During his time in Düsseldorf there was a series of unsolved murders of young males.
     When Dahmer was arrested in the US a dozen years later the German authorities mounted a retrospective investigation but came up empty.
     Dahmer was dishonorably discharged from the army in 1980 for fighting, absence without leave, and "habitual drunkenness."

Lawyers Lawyers

     The selection of jurors for the much ballyhooed Dahmer trial in Milwaukee generated bitterness in the black community.
     Though thirteen of Dahmer's seventeen known murder victims were black, the jury was composed of six males and six females, all white.
     Gerald Boyle, Dahmer's attorney, had his client plead guilty by reason of insanity.
     Then Boyle unrolled the filthy, bloody bandage of Dahmer's perversions, mutilations, murders, necrophilia, and cannibalization.
     Boyle's contention was that only a certified madman would commit such atrocities.
     That Dahmer should be placed in an institution for the criminally insane rather than imprisoned for life.
     Rick McCann, the deputy DA, employed many of the same examples to convince the jurors that Dahmer was a psychopath and manipulator who must bear full responsibility for his heinous crimes.
     Why else, McCann asked rhetorically, would Dahmer deliberately suspend murdering at certain periods, as when he was in the army or at college.
     Indisputably, Dahmer was fully in control of his actions.
     Defense counsel Boyle labeled his client a "runaway train."
     Deputy DA McCann called him the "evil engineer."
     The jury in its wisdom decided for McCann.
     Dahmer, found guilty and responsible for his fatal deviations, was sentenced to seventeen consecutive life terms.

Malcolm 2X Scarver

     At Columbia Institute in Portage, Wisconsin, Jeffrey Dahmer was kept in isolation.
     He was a model prisoner.
     After nearly two years the prison authorities permitted Dahmer, at his request, to have restricted contact with other inmates.
     On the morning of November 28, 1994, Dahmer, multiple murderer of young black males, was assigned to a detail of three for latrine cleanup.
     One of the others, a white named Jesse Anderson, had murdered his wife and blamed it on a black intruder.
     The third was a fiercely violent, schizophrenic black nationalist named Malcolm 2X Scarver.
     The escorting guard, according to his testimony, left the three alone for less than fifteen minutes.
     When he returned he found the two white inmates murdered, Anderson's skull crushed, Dahmer's throat slashed, the blood squirting, his neck almost unhinged.
     The bloody, razor-sharp knife, fashioned out of a soup spoon, lay on the cement floor next to the near-decapitated Dahmer.
     Their executioner, Malcolm 2X Scarver?
     He was, the escorting guard would testify, diligently mopping the latrine area while whistling.

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