Jeffery Dahmer was a little known figure until this month. The series Dahmer has shocked audiences but what did his crimes do to the human body?
Those that have braved the 10 part NETFLIX series will be shocked at what human beings are capable of. His heinous crimes on over 17 men we’re ignored by officers of the law in the US leading to the devastating death of a string of gay men.
Awareness and learning from mistakes is crucial to prevent history repeating itself and this tragic story happening again.
Trauma to the head -how does it kill?
Trauma to the head achieves unconsciousness usually by inducing a bleed to the brain followed by a dramatic rise in intercranial pressure. This causes compression of the brainstem leading to cardiac arrest. The victim can be unconscious due to the blunt force trauma and mass rupture of blood vessels can lead to stroke occurring simultaneously. If this occurs due to the strike to the head and happens whilst standing then the victim will collapse to the floor possibly hitting objects as they fall.
Drill hole to the cranium
As part of Dahmer’s brutal killings he drilled holes in the cranium of the victims, using a household drill this will have penetrated the skin, cranial bones and cranial meninges, most likely through the parietal or temporal bones as these are the largest and most accessible. Clearly an unthinkable act but this is actually common practice in a surgical craniectomy, this is a medical procedure conducted by a neurosurgeon to release rising intercranial pressure caused by a bleed/hematoma to the brain. A small section of the cranial bone is temporarily removed and placed often into the abdomen where a blood supply will be established to the bone to keep it alive. It is then re-sited to the cranium once the procedure is over.
Dahmer then injected hydrochloric acid into the cranium of his victims. A horrifying act, hydrochloric acid isn’t readily available to the general public in concentrations that are harmful. HCl acid can cause irritation and chemical burns, injected into the cranium this will have destroyed the architecture of the neurons within the brain and damaged the vasculature inducing a deficit, combined with drugs and alcohol this will have accelerated a neuronal deficit.
Konerak Sinthasomphone had HCl acid injected into his frontal lobe which controls behaviour, emotion and personality. This will have given rise to the deficits in his conscious/cognitive appearance meaning he was mistaken for being drunk and delusional. Despite this, as we learn in the series Sinthasomphone was an underage young boy and was failed by the US authorities in their police response.
One the saving graces is that the brain has no sensation of pain, there are no pain receptors in the brain so the only pain felt will have been the drilling to the more superficial structures.
Dismembering a corpse
Dahmer dismembered his victims to dispose of their bodies. This was done after childhood practice on small animals and requires some anatomical knowledge. It is likely that Dahmer will have used domestic tools to sever the limbs at the joints rather than through the diaphysis of the bone. The victims limbs were then soaked in salt water, acid and other experimental fluids as part of Dahmer’s horrific killing spree. Dahmer disposed of the bodies often in the trash in domestic bin liners meaning the limbs were probably separated at the knee joint, the pelvis, the shoulder neck. No remains were found for a number of victims but we know that rigor mortis would have taken around 36 hours to pass to allow the bodies to become malleable to compress them into bin liners meaning they were stored for a few days at least prior to disposal. We also know that Livor mortis can take 15 hours meaning the blood would have coagulated to a gel meaning blood loss would have been minimal.
Dissolving a torso in acid
We know there was a 57L drum in the apartment where a number of torsos were found soaked in HCl acid. It would have required concentrated HCl to dissolve a human body, this is because HCl chemically reacts with the atoms that make up the human body. Once reacted the HCL would neutralise with a number of gasses produced, this would have caused the sealed barrel to swell, releasing gasses that give rise to a foul stench. The lack of concentrated acid and inadequate knowledge probably prevented Dahmer from complete disposal and explains why the police found torsos in the acid bath.
Probably the most revolting aspect of Dahmer’s crimes is that he cooked and ate his victims. This was confirmed by human fat and debris found on cooking utensils in his apartment and is grotesquely referenced in the sandwich moment that leaves viewers of the NETFLIX drama squirming. We know that cannibalism itself causing health problems, specifically a diseases called Kuru. Kuru is caused by an infectious protein (prion) found in contaminated human brain tissue.
Dahmer is a 10 part drama certificate 18 and is available to watch on NETFLIX.