Dahmer was born May 21, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the first of two sons of Joyce Annette (née Flint; February 7, 1936 – November 27, 2000), a teletype machine instructor, and Lionel Herbert Dahmer (born July 29, 1936), a Marquette University chemistry student and later a research chemist. Lionel Dahmer is of German and Welsh ancestry,[10] and Joyce Dahmer was of Norwegian and Irish ancestry.

Some sources report Dahmer was deprived of attention as an infant. Other sources, however, suggest that Dahmer was generally doted on as an infant and toddler by both parents, although his mother was known to be tense, greedy for both attention and pity, and argumentative with her husband and their neighbors.

As Dahmer entered first grade, Lionel’s university studies kept him away from home much of the time; when he was home, his wife—a hypochondriac who suffered from depression—demanded constant attention and spent an increasing amount of time in bed. On one occasion, she is known to have attempted suicide with Equanil.[14] Consequently, neither parent devoted much time to their son, who later recollected that, from an early age, he felt “unsure of the solidity of the family”, recalling extreme tension and numerous arguments between his parents during his early years.

Dahmer had been an “energetic and happy child” but became notably subdued after double hernia surgery shortly before his fourth birthday. At elementary school, Dahmer was regarded as quiet and timid; one teacher later recollected she detected early signs of abandonment in Dahmer due to his father’s absence and mother’s illnesses, the symptoms of which increased when she became pregnant with her second child. Nonetheless, in elementary school, Dahmer did have a small number of friends.

In October 1966, the family moved to Doylestown, Ohio. When Joyce gave birth in December, Jeffrey was allowed to choose the name of his new baby brother; he chose the name David. The same year, Lionel earned his degree and started work as an analytical chemist in nearby Akron, Ohio.

From an early age, Dahmer manifested an interest in dead animals. His fascination with dead animals may have begun when, at the age of four, he saw his father removing animal bones from beneath the family home. According to Lionel, Dahmer was “oddly thrilled” by the sound the bones made, and became preoccupied with animal bones, which he initially called his “fiddlesticks”. He occasionally searched beneath and around the family home for additional bones, and explored the bodies of live animals to discover where their bones were located.

In 1968, the family moved to Bath Township, Summit County, Ohio. This address was their third in two years, and the Dahmers’ sixth address since marriage.[26][n 2] The home stood in one and a half acres of woodland, with a small hut only a short walk from the house where Dahmer began collecting large insects such as dragonflies and moths and the skeletons of small animals such as chipmunks and squirrels.[27] Some of these remains were preserved in jars of formaldehyde and stowed within the hut.

Two years later, during a chicken dinner, Dahmer asked Lionel what would happen if the chicken bones were placed in bleach.[29] Lionel, pleased by what he believed to be his son’s scientific curiosity, demonstrated how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones. Dahmer incorporated these preserving techniques into his bone collecting, and also began collecting dead animals—including roadkill[30]—which he would dissect and bury beside the hut, with the skulls occasionally placed atop makeshift crosses. According to one friend, Dahmer explained to him that he was curious as to how animals “fit together”. In one instance in 1975, Dahmer decapitated the carcass of a dog before nailing the body to a tree and impaling the skull upon a stick in the woodland behind his house. As “a prank”, he later invited a friend to view the display, claiming he had discovered the remains by chance.

The same year Lionel taught his son how to preserve animal bones, Joyce began increasing her daily consumption of Equanil, laxatives, and sleeping pills, further minimizing her tangible contact with her husband and children.

From his freshman year at Revere High School, Dahmer was seen as an outcast.[n 3] By the age of 14, he had begun drinking beer and hard alcohol in daylight hours, frequently concealing his liquor inside the jacket he wore to school. He is known to have mentioned to one classmate who inquired why he was drinking Scotch in a morning history class that the alcohol he consumed was “my medicine”. Although largely uncommunicative, in his freshman year, Dahmer was seen by staff as polite and highly intelligent but with average grades.He was a keen tennis player and played briefly in the high school band.

When he reached puberty, Dahmer discovered he was gay;[ he did not tell his parents. In his early teens, he had a brief relationship with another teenage boy, although they never had intercourse. By Dahmer’s later admission, he began fantasizing about dominating and controlling a completely submissive male partner in his early to mid-teens, and his masturbatory fantasies gradually evolved to his focusing upon the chests and torsos of the focus of his fantasies. These fantasies gradually became intertwined with dissection. When he was about 16, Dahmer conceived a fantasy of rendering unconscious a particular male jogger he found attractive, and then making sexual use of his body. On one occasion Dahmer concealed himself in bushes with a baseball bat to lie in wait for this man; however, he did not pass by on that particular day. Dahmer later admitted this was his first attempt to attack and render an individual submissive to him.[43]

Among his peers at RHS, Dahmer became something of a class clown who often staged pranks, which became known as “Doing a Dahmer”; these included bleating and simulating epileptic seizures or cerebral palsy[45] at school and local stores.[46] On occasion, Dahmer would perform these antics for money to purchase alcohol.

Dahmer, pictured in the 1978 Revere High School yearbook, Reverie
By 1977, Dahmer’s grades had declined. His parents hired a private tutor, with limited success. The same year, in an attempt to save their marriage, his parents attended counseling sessions. They continued to quarrel frequently. When Lionel discovered Joyce had engaged in a brief affair in September 1977, they both decided to divorce, telling their sons they wished to do so amicably. Lionel moved out of the house in early 1978, temporarily residing in a motel on North Cleveland Massillon Road.[49][50]

In May 1978, Dahmer graduated from high school. A few weeks before his graduation, one of his teachers observed Dahmer sitting close to the school parking lot, drinking several cans of beer. When the teacher threatened to report the matter, Dahmer informed him he was experiencing “a lot of problems” at home and that the school’s guidance counselor was aware of them. That spring, Joyce and David moved out of the family home to live with relatives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Dahmer had just turned 18 and remained in the family home. Dahmer’s parents’ divorce was finalized on July 24, 1978. Joyce was awarded custody of her younger son and alimony payments. Wiki

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