Inside Jeffrey Dahmer's Mind

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Inside Jeffrey Dahmer's Mind

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You are required to write a research paper discussing some aspect of a serial or mass murder. Students should include an overview of the incident or a brief biography of the serial killer but should concentrate on the “why” behind the behavior. The paper can focus on a particular type of offender, e.g., Ted Bundy or relate to a specific incident, e.g., mass shootings or the Aurora, Colorado shooting.
You must include possible causal or contributing factors that could explain this particular type of violence. For example, if you choose a serial killer, are there factors in his or her life that would have led to this type of behavior? Was there evidence of mental problems, relationship issues with parents, or difficulties at school? If you choose a specific incident, were there identifiable precursors that would have predicted this behavior? Was the person purchasing weapons, relationship problems, identified/unidentified mental disorders, bullying or ostracized at work or school?
The paper must be between 5 and 7 pages in length (1250-1750 words), double-spaced using Arial 11-point, or Times New Roman 12-point font. Use APA (6th Ed.) style, including 1-inch margins all the way around. Your paper must have a minimum of 12 references and all references must be cited in the paper following APA formatting styles.
Note: For this research paper I will like to focus on Jeffrey Dahmer. All references are provided.
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OverlayEndMilwaukee WI lawyer Thomas Jacobson came up with the unpopular idea of auctioning off the personal belongings of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. A civic group raised over $407,000 to buy and destroy nearly everything Dahmer owned in order to avert the planned auction.
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Headnote
A lawyer’s idea to auction a serial killer’s effects spurs a successful fund-raising campaign by critics
It looks like the proposed auction of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s personal belongings won’t take place after all.
The planned auction apparently was averted when a hastily organized Milwaukee civic group raised more than $407,000 to buy and then destroy nearly everything Dahmer owned.
Money for 11 Families
Under the terms of the deal, which was agreed to over the Memorial Day weekend, the families of 11 of Dahmer’s victims with claims against the estate would each receive about $32,000.
Milwaukeeans, in turn, would be spared a painful reminder of perhaps the ugliest chapter in the city’s history, not to mention all of the negative publicity that such an auction would surely bring.
Dahmer, who killed and dismembered 17 men and boys over a 13-year period, was beaten to death by a fellow inmate in 1994 at the Wisconsin prison where he was serving several life sentences.
Earlier this year, a judge held that Dahmer’s belongings should be turned over to his estate and liquidated to raise money for the victims’ relatives, who together have more than $80 million in unsatisfied judgments against him. That’s when Milwaukee lawyer Thomas Jacobson, who represents eight of the 11 families, came up with the wildly unpopular idea of selling the items at auction.
The collection consists of hundreds of items. They include the tools Dahmer used to subdue, torture and murder some of his victims; the freezer in which he stored some of their body parts; the contents of his apartment; and the letters he received in prison.
Reaction to the proposed auction ranged from disbelief to dismay. The victims’ families were accused of seeking to profit from the notoriety of their relatives’ deaths. One newspaper columnist suggested that Jacobson should be run out of town on a rail for having come up with the idea in the first place.
When he heard about it, Milwaukee real estate developer Joseph Zilber, who was on business in Hawaii, was horrified. After contacting Jacobson, who set an asking price of $1 million for the entire package, Zilber launched a furious fund-raising campaign to buy the collection and burn it.
Michael Mervis, a spokesman for the developer, says Zilber believes the victims’ families “deserve something,” but he feels strongly that it should not come from auctioning Dahmer’s belongings to the highest bidder.
Zilber put up the first $100,000 himself. And within a few weeks, the organization he founded collected another $307,225 in pledges from hundreds of individual donors in amounts ranging from $5 to more than $50,000.
In a strange way, Mervis says, the campaign actually brought the community closer together.
Jacobson, who estimated that an auction would have brought in as much as $2.4 million, says the families he represents voted 5-3 to accept the offer. “It was a very emotional meeting and a tough decision,” he says. “These families have been through hell.”
Janie Hagen’s 19-year-old brother, Richard Guerrero, was one of Dahmer’s earliest victims. Hagen says she was one of the three relatives who favored going forward with the auction. But Hagen says the majority was tired of being criticized as greedy.
“It has nothing to do with greed,” she says of her own position. “It has to do with being compensated for my loss.” The community does not care about the victims’ families, she says. “The only thing they care about is the city’s reputation.”
Robert Steuer, a lawyer for Dahmer’s estate, says he is inclined to accept the group’s offer, which must be approved by a judge. Steuer says he favors “anything that helps raise money to pay off the estate’s creditors.”
Both lawyers brush off the criticism that has been directed at them. Steuer says he believes most people realize he is only doing a job that has to be done. And Jacobson says lawyers sometimes have to do unpopular things to make the system work.
Even Mervis doesn’t fault the lawyers for apparently acting in good faith on behalf of their clients. But he says the morality of allowing people to profit from a terrible crime is hard for a nonlawyer like him to understand.
“There’s something about it that’s just not right,” he says.
Word count: 751
Copyright American Bar Association Aug 1996

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