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Lionel Dahmer, Father of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer, Dead at 87

Lionel stood by his son after his convictions, stressing that he believed Dahmer was "extremely troubled" and visiting him in prison.

By Gina Salamone
Lionel Dahmer

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's father Lionel Dahmer — who once vowed to "always stick by" his son — has died at age 87.

Lionel Dahmer died in hospice care in Medina County, Ohio, the area's health department told the New York Post Tuesday. A cause and date of death were unclear as of Wednesday. 

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Dahmer killed and dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He was convicted of 15 of the murders and confessed to two additional killings.

What has Lionel Dahmer said about his son Jeffrey Dahmer?

Despite his son's crimes, Lionel stood by him over the years, stressing that he believed Dahmer was "extremely troubled" and visiting him in prison after his convictions. "I still love my son," he said on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1994. "I’ll always stick by him — I always have."

What happened to Jeffrey Dahmer?

Dahmer was beaten to death at age 34 by a fellow inmate on November 28, 1994, while he was serving life in prison at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Wisconsin.

"When I found out that Jeff was murdered, it was just devastating," Lionel said on Investigation Discovery's Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster, which debuted in 2020. "It affected me very gravely."

Jeffrey Dahmer G

Lionel has said that his son “was not born a monster," according to the Akron Beacon Journal. "How could anyone be polite and kind and pretty normal otherwise and yet do these things unless they are extremely troubled and insane?” Lionel said to the Ohio-based newspaper shortly after his son's crimes came to light in 1991.

RELATED: Why Jeffrey Dahmer Was Declared Sane In His Murder Trial

What was Lionel Dahmer's job?

Lionel worked as a chemist for PPG Industries after obtaining a Master of Science degree from Marquette University in 1962 and doctorate in chemistry from Iowa State in 1966, according to the Akron Beacon Journal

Born on July 29, 1936 in Wisconsin, Lionel married Dahmer's mom, Joyce Flint, in 1959, the same year he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960, and his brother David followed six years later. The family moved to Ohio in the mid-'60s.

The marriage between Dahmer's parents, Lionel and Joyce, was rife with issues, the Akron Beacon Journal reported, and Lionel sued Joyce for divorce and began living in a hotel. Joyce headed to Wisconsin in 1978, bringing younger son David, and leaving Dahmer to live alone at age 18 in a home in Bath Township, Ohio that the family bought in 1968.

RELATED: Why Did Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer Keep His Victims' Bodies?

It was in that home that Dahmer killed his first murder victim, 18-year-old Steven M. Hicks, on June 18 of 1978.

What happened to Jeffrey Dahmer's mother and stepmother? 

Joyce, Dahmer's mom, died at age 64 from breast cancer on November 27, 2000 in California. Dahmer's father, Lionel, got remarried to a woman named Shari after his divorce from Joyce was finalized in July of 1978, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. Shari died on January 13, 2023 at age 81 at a nursing home in Ohio.

Lionel wrote a book about his experience learning that his son was a serial killer. Titled A Father's Story, it was released on January of 1994.

In the memoir, Lionel suggested that his negligence of his son as a child may have had something to do with why Dahmer turned out to be a mass murderer, according to a 1994 Los Angeles Times book review.

The review pointed to a paragraph in the book in which Lionel mentioned the letters that his son received in jail. Lionel wrote, "Clearly, some of these people believe that in some bizarre way, my son could rescue them from lives in which they felt entrapped. It demonstrated a level of sympathy and pity that I simply could not reach. ... I often wondered why, in a world of so much feeling, I could express so little."

For more on the Jeffrey Dahmer case, watch Oxygen True Crime's special Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks.

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