By looking at his childhood photo, you’d never imagine Jeffrey Dahmer would turn into one of America’s most notorious and horrendous serial killers. Many people couldn’t believe Dahmer, who was described as “gentle” and “kind” by his family, was capable of murdering, raping and dismembering 17 boys and men.
In Oxygen’s two-night special “Dahmer On Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks,” Dahmer’s father, Lionel, and stepmother, Shari, discuss what Dahmer was like as a kid growing up in suburban Ohio. For the first time in more than 10 years, the two give interviews about their son Jeff that shed light on who Dahmer was before his 13-year killing spree.
Below, we've compiled some interview footage with Lionel and Shari that's exlcusive to Oxygen.com.
Lionel explains that as a young boy, Dahmer seemed — by all accounts — completely normal.
“He went to Boy Scout camp and all these sorts of activities… soccer. He loved the place that we lived in. It was a heavily wooded place, and he enjoyed his small ground of friends,” says Lionel.
At age 6, however, Dahmer became a bit more reserved and withdrawn: “[H]e got a little bit shier. We were moving at the time from university housing, and he had to leave his favorite kitten behind. And things like that — going to a new school and being only 6 years old — he became a little bit more shy, much like I was in my youth.”
Lionel also reveals that Dahmer was heavily affected by Lionel’s divorce from his birth mother, Joyce: “He got very, very upset about the divorce [...] He was upset by it, and he would — I found out later, from someone — that he would go into the woods and hit wood branches on trees to vent his anger.”
But even after their separation, Lionel believes Dahmer never exhibited any alarming behavior. He explains, “He seemed very typical, and he was hiding very well these strange obsessions that he had.”
Shari, who met Dahmer just as he was graduating from high school and shortly before his first murder, agrees.
“As a woman, as a mother figure, Jeff was an adult child. He was kind, he was sensitive, he loved animals. Now I lived with this young man. He lived in our home. He did dreadful things [...] but I must tell you, Jeff as a human being had several sides to his character. The good side was a wonderful human being. He had his father’s intelligence,” says Shari.
"Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks" premiers on Saturday, November 11 at 7/6c.
[Photo: Getty Images]