More than two decades after the heinous serial killer's death, the painful memories linger

By Steve Helling
November 06, 2017 10:18 AM
Curt Borgwardt/Sygma via Getty

He’s one of the most notorious serial killers in American history.

Jeffrey Dahmer raped, murdered and dismembered at least 17 men and boys in Milwaukee between 1978 and 1991. When he was finally arrested, the extent of his horrific crimes — including cannibalism and necrophilia — shocked the American public.

For months, newspaper stories discussed the macabre experiments Dahmer performed on his victims: injecting their bodies with cleaning solutions, removing their vital organs, and attempting to lobotomize them while they were still alive. He often preserved their body parts in chemicals after dismembering them.

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Dahmer was charged with 17 murders. Although he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and psychotic disorder, he was found to be mentally fit to stand trial. In 1992, he was convicted of 16 of the murders and sentenced to 16 life terms in prison.

But Dahmer didn’t spend much time in jail. On November 28, 1994, he was bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. He was 34.

More than two decades after his death, Dahmer’s name still evokes morbid fascination in the American public: He’s the subject of a feature film, My Friend Dahmer, that premieres on Friday. The film chronicles Dahmer’s senior year of high school and stars former Disney Channel star Ross Lynch.

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But for the friends and families of Dahmer’s victims, the mere mention of the killer’s name is painful — and there is always something that reminds them of the horror.

In 2012, a company organized a Jeffrey Dahmer walking tour in Milwaukee, where curious onlookers would see the places where the crimes were committed. The tour outraged family members of the victims including Janie Hagen, whose brother Richard Guerrero was killed by Dahmer. “My mind is like a VCR,” Hagen told Fox6Now.com at the time. “It just pauses and it rewinds and it always takes me back.”

“He was only 21,” she continued. “I have a son that’s 21 now. I can only imagine what my mother went through. That was her child. That was her baby.”

Jamie Doxtator was just 14 when Dahmer killed him in 1998. “The pain never goes away,” his second cousin, Stephanie McCay, tells PEOPLE through her tears. “Even now, I can’t really talk about it. It’s so painful.”

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