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'More lives could have been saved': Jeffrey Dahmer's father recalls missed chance to stop serial killer

When Lionel Dahmer later asked his son about the incident, Jeffrey replied, 'The jig would have been up'
Lionel Dahmer asked Jeffrey about the incident after the latter's arrest and received a non-emotional reply (Screenshot from Dr. Phil/ Youtube, Milwaukee Police Department)
Lionel Dahmer asked Jeffrey about the incident after the latter's arrest and received a non-emotional reply (Screenshot from Dr. Phil/ Youtube, Milwaukee Police Department)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA: In a three-part special never-before-seen interview with Dr Phil, Jeffrey Dahmer's father Lionel Dahmer recalled a missed opportunity to catch his son redhanded, which could have potentially paused his killing spree between 1978 and 1991. 

Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who was convicted of sexual assault, murder, and cannibalism in 1992, shared a close bond with his father. Their tight connection, which became a prime topic of discussion on the CBS show, received an ample amount of screen time in the Netflix drama 'Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story'. The 1990s interview finds Lionel reflecting on an incident where Jeffrey would not let his father open a wooden box that contained the severed head of one of his victims, Anthony Sears, whom he murdered in 1989. 


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In a clip obtained by TMZ, Lionel recollected that Jeffrey's grandmother caught the latter with pornography when they were living together. "Several occasions my mother had complained about seeing some pornography around. So when I made the visit to Milwaukee, I saw this box in the closet in his room and I said "I'm going to open it" and I started going down to the basement to get a tool to open up the box," the father remembered. "He kept complaining that he couldn't even have one foot square of property to do with what he wants and I said "I'm gonna open it up anyway, find out what's in here" because I thought it was something related to pornography." 

Finally, Jeffrey was able to convince Lionel not to open the box by asking him to wait until the next day as the serial killer did not want to bother his grandmother who was listening to the commotion from a nearby room. "In a way I'm glad, in a way I'm not glad that I didn't press it, because if I had opened that box and found what was in there, I think I would have lost it," he continued. "The next day he opened it and said "you see, this is what it was", and it was pornographic magazines."

After Jeffrey's imprisonment, Lionel discussed the incident with his son. "I said 'what would you have done Jeff if I had opened it?' and he said something like, 'the jig would have been up', something non-emotional, non-committal." "I could have... more lives could've been saved," he concluded. 

This moment taken from Jeffrey's real life was recreated in the Netflix release. 

Lionel also spoke about Jeffrey developing alarming sexual fetishes at a young age. "I thought at some point between 12 and 14, coming out of puberty, his sexual engine was in high drive and he was touching the insides of this animal and he sort of got hardwired neurally into connecting the sexual pleasure with this type of activity, entrails, insides, bodies, that's the way I thought about it after thinking about it for a while," he said. He admitted that the father-son duo would dissect dead animals together during the criminal's growing years. 

Lionel also admitted he was utterly horrified by his son's crimes, saying, "At first I couldn't fathom how he got there, we're all on a continuum, we all do bad things, we all sin. He was at the extreme of this continuum, I couldn't at first understand how he could have done those things. I was concentrating on getting him into a psychiatric hospital. I didn't ask him that specifically but I did say 'Jeffrey you've got to find out how on earth you could have done these things.'"