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Crime News Murders

Where Are Jeffrey Dahmer's Parents Now?

Following Jeffrey Dahmer's imprisonment, his parents, Lionel Dahmer and Joyce Flint, questioned if they could've prevented the murders of 17 men and boys.

By Cydney Contreras

Convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was serving life in prison when he was violently slain by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver on November 28, 1994. 

Though many rejoiced at the news of Dahmer's murder, his father, Lionel Dahmer, was heartbroken to learn that his eldest son was dead. 

RELATED: What Happened To Jeffrey Dahmer After He Was Convicted Of Killing 15 Men And Boys?

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

Like the families of Dahmer's own victims, Lionel and his ex-wife, Joyce "Rocky" Flint, would mourn their son for the rest of their lives.

Are Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents still alive? 

Lionel Dahmer died at age 87 while in hospice care in Medina County, Ohio, the area's health department confirmed to media outlets in December of 2023. His second wife, Shari Dahmer, died at age 81 earlier the same year, on January 13, 2023, at a nursing home in Ohio.

As for Jeffrey's mother Joyce, she died in November 2000 from breast cancer.   

At the time of her death, she was working as a case manager at the Central Valley AIDS Team. She was also remembered as a founder of The Living Room, a resource center for those living with HIV/AIDS.  

"Everybody loved her. She would do anything for her clients and for anybody really. She was just this wonderful person," Julio Mastro, The Living Room's executive director, told Reuters at the time. 

Jeffrey Dahmer G

What did Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents say about him? 

Though Lionel was horrified by his son's crimes, he often questioned whether he and his ex-wife were to blame for Jeffrey's violent disposition. In his March 1994 memoir A Father's Story, Lionel explained that he felt he could've been a more engaging father, admitting that he knew Jeffrey was an odd kid, but he chose to ignore those qualities, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

There were other possible explanations, too. "I considered all kinds of things. Was it environmental, genetic? Was it, perhaps, medications that were taken at the time of — you know, in the first trimester? Was it the effect of, you know, the popular subject now, media violence?" he said on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1994. 

Lionel added in a 1994 interview with Larry King Live that he was unaware of Jeffrey had been collecting roadkill and killing animals since his youth. "If I had known about the roadkill, that would have been a red flag," he stated. "I would have done something immediately, intervened." 

Despite Jeffrey's crimes — he was convicted of murdering 15 men and confessed to murdering two others — the father said he felt bad for his son, who he believed was suffering from mental health disorders. 

"I still love my son. I’ll always stick by him — I always have," he shared. 

Lionel Dahmer

That being said, Lionel admitted that he used an alias on occasion. He explained to Larry King in 1994, "The only thing is when we go out, sometimes we'll give a different name so that — you know, at a restaurant, for example, so that we don't cause a lot of people to change — you know, to move their heads around and look, and, 'Oh...'" 

Lionel's last recorded interview was for the 2020 docuseries Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster

Though Lionel was outspoken about his love for Jeffrey and repeatedly participated in televised interviews, Joyce was more private and sought to live away from the public eye. She reportedly turned down a $10,000 offer for an interview, despite her meager living in Fresno, California, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. 

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

In the years leading up to Jeffrey's murder, Joyce spoke with him at least once a week, she told the Journal Sentinel. It was during one of these calls, Joyce said, that he reportedly told her he was relieved to be in prison. 

"'I'd be afraid what I'd do if I weren't locked up,'" she remembered him saying. 

Joyce felt immense guilt for Jeffrey's actions, once telling Journal Sentinel columnist Bill Sanz that she felt she'd be "tormented in agony for eternity."  

Lionel and Joyce's marriage was largely an unhappy one, with Lionel writing in his biography that Joyce was a hypochondriac consumed by her own mental illnesses. He claimed that she was medicated throughout most of their marriage, including during her pregnancy with Jeffrey. 

According to Lionel, Joyce later had an affair with another man in 1977, at which point they decided to split. 

When did Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents divorce?

Their divorce was finalized in July 1978, according to a 1991 report by the Associated Press. Still, the exes continued to fight in the years following, with their former neighbor Susan Lehr telling the outlet that "the police were out several times" for fights between Lionel and Joyce. 

At the time the divorce was finalized, Jeffrey was 18 and in his senior year of high school, so he decided to stay in the family home while his mother obtained custody of his younger brother and moved in with family in Wisconsin. While living alone, he killed his first victim, Stephen Mark Hicks, 18, after inviting the young hitchhiker back to his home under the guise of having beers, according to the L.A. Times. He buried Hicks near the family property. 

Originally published Mar 16, 2023.