Good, honest, God-fearing citizens feeling empathy for serial killers is nothing particularly new. We're all human; we all want to understand why people do the things they do. But when it comes to Jeffrey Dahmer – who was sentenced to 15 life terms 25 years ago yesterday – there seems to be an unusual climate of compassion.
Jeffrey Dahmer killed at least 17 young men between 1978 and 1991. Many of these men were African-American or Hispanic, and most were picked up in or around gay bars. Once he got them home, Dahmer would usually drug his victim and, once they became unconscious, strangle them. He would dismember the victim, have sex with the body, occasionally eat bits of the body, and take photos throughout, in a bid to remember the experience as best as possible. Ultimately, what Dahmer wanted most was to keep someone in a submissive state so they could never leave. He said himself: "The only motive that there ever was was to completely control a person [...] and keep them with me as long as possible." In 1991, he attempted to pour muriatic acid into a hole in his victim's head in an attempt to create a zombie – a willing companion with whom he could do what he pleased.