TWISTED US serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer shared many sick traits with the British mass murderer Dennis Nilsen, from their collecting of gruesome “trophies” to the victims they targeted.
Both shared a superficial similarity, with their floppy hair and preference for wide-rimmed aviator-style glasses, but beneath the surface are even more chilling links between the two killers.
Inside his apartment of horrors, cops discovered photos of dismembered human bodies, a freshly severed head in the fridge, and a huge drum full of acid, in which the torsos of several men were dissolving.
As well as murdering and dismembering his victims, Dahmer would also eat human flesh, and carried out sick experiments while they were still alive, such as drilling holes in their skulls and injecting acid into their brains to try and induce a “zombie-like” state.
He was eventually sentenced to life in prison, where he met his own grisly end.
Dahmer was beaten to death with an iron bar by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver after prison guards left them unaccompanied for 20 minutes.
His killing spree eerily began the same year as Dahmer’s in 1978, and he was caught in 1983.
In five years, he murdered and dismembered 12 to 15 men and boys, most of them at his north London flat, which saw him dubbed the “Muswell Hill Murderer”.
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Although he later denied in prison that he had engaged in cannibalism – darkly telling his biographer Brian Masters he was “strictly a bacon and eggs man” – another interviewer said he believes Nilsen did eat his victims.
Nilsen also died in prison, although his end was not the violent death that befell Dahmer.
In May 2018, he was taken from HMP Full Sutton to York Hospital complaining of severe stomach pains, dying two days later of a pulmonary embolism and retroperitoneal haemorrhage.
These are seven of the chilling similarities between Dahmer and Nilsen’s lives and evil crimes.
[Dahmer] needs a totally unresisting, passive model of a human being in order to ‘cross the bridge’ temporarily into ‘society’
Both Dahmer and Nilsen were shy outcasts as children.
Dahmer’s parents argued frequently and weren’t there for him much as a child, with his father away from home with work and his mother a hypochondriac who was mostly in bed.
An elementary school teacher described the young boy as quiet and timid and displaying early signs of abandonment.
His former classmate John Backderf told The Mirror Dahmer was “shy and troubled” and “well down the social ladder”.
However, he said that he “liked him” at school and that he did have a small group of friends.
Nilsen’s parents also had a difficult marriage.
His father Olav was away much of the time with the Free Norwegian Forces and they divorced when he was just two years old.
He was described by his contemporaries as a “quiet” child, becoming more and more withdrawn following the sudden death of his beloved grandfather when he was just six years old.
OBSESSED WITH DEATH
Dahmer had a fascination with dead animals from a young age.
His father encouraged his interest, collecting roadkill which he and his son would dissect in the garage.
However, the practice horrified his mother.
Nilsen’s life-changing moment came when his grandfather died in 1951 – robbing him of the one family member he truly felt close to.
After his death, Nilsen’s mother asked him if he wanted to see his grandad.
Excited, Nilsen said yes, only to be taken into a room where the corpse had been laid out in a casket.
Brian Masters, in his Nilsen biography “Killing for Company”, wrote: “The taboo against the mention of death had disastrous consequences for the boy, the image of the loved one and the image of the dead object were fused.”
Nilsen himself once said he liked being with the bodies of his victims so he could “express those feelings which were the feelings I held sacred for my grandfather”.
Both Nilsen and Dahmer tried to find themselves in the military, perhaps looking for a place they could belong.
In 1979, a year after his first murder, Dahmer enlisted in the US Army at his father’s urging.
He underwent basic training and was deployed to West Germany, although he was eventually discharged in 1991 due to his alcoholism and worsening performance.
Nilsen’s military career was more distinguished than Dahmer’s.
He trained as a chef and was also stationed in West Germany for a time.
Nilsen later described his three years of training at Aldershot as “the happiest of my life”.
‘DIDN’T WANT THEM TO LEAVE’
Both of Dahmer and Nilsen’s first victims shared a key similarity – their killers hadn’t wanted them to leave.
Nilsen invited 14-year-old Stephen Holmes back to his flat to listen to music after they met in a pub.
Dahmer also lured Steven Hicks, 18, a hitchhiker, back to his home with the promise of beers.
When he realised Hicks wanted to leave, he struck him over the head with a barbell before strangling him to death.
Similarly, Nilsen strangled Holmes to death to stop him from leaving.
Horrifically, both killers masturbated over the corpses although, in a key difference, Dahmer disposed of the body while Nilsen kept Holmes’s corpse in his flat for several months.
TARGETED ‘ATTRACTIVE MEN’
Both Nilsen and Dahmer wrestled with their homosexuality from a young age.
Throughout their killing sprees, the pair slaughtered young men and boys, not because they took a particular pleasure from the act of killing, but because they wanted “ownership” of males they found attractive.
Dahmer later said he descended into cannibalism because “it was a way of making me feel they were a part of me”.
Nilsen, on the other hand, would display his victims’ corpses in grotesque parodies of normal romantic situations, sitting them on chairs, lying them on beds, and even talking to them.
He later described this as “misplaced love”.
KEPT SICK ‘TROPHIES’
Both Dahmer and Nilsen killed their victims because they wanted “unresisting” bodies they could freely possess and “enjoy”.
Dahmer kept the severed heads of many of his victims as sick trophies, brazenly even taking one to work with him at the chocolate factory.
He admitted that he planned to eventually create an altar of bones, imagining it as a “place where I could collect my thoughts and feed my obsession”.
A search of Nilsen’s flat in Muswell Hill also revealed the discovery of a skull, a section of torso, and various bones in a tea chest.
Nilsen admitted that he had a “fear of emotional rejection and failure” stemming from his being bullied at school.
One of the most disturbing parallels between Dahmer and Nilsen was that both were almost caught after attacking young Asian migrants.
In 1979, Nilsen tried to murder 19-year-old Andrew Ho, a student from Hong Kong that he’d brought back to his flat.
Ho was able to knock Nilsen unconscious with a candlestick and went to cops, who arrested the killer and held him for two days.
However, as Ho was both an immigrant and under the age of consent for gay people, he was worried about getting into trouble and didn’t press charges.
Police released Nilsen, despite one officer describing him in his report as “extremely dangerous”.
Dahmer was nearly caught in 1991 after witnesses spotted naked and disorientated teenager Konerak Sinthasomphone outside his apartment.
The twisted killer had lured him back to his flat and tried to turn him into a “zombie” by injecting his brain with hydrochloric acid.
Witnesses pleaded with cops to investigate further, but Dahmer was able to persuade the officers that he was his “boyfriend” who had simply got too drunk, and they left.
Bizarrely, Nilsen went on to discuss Dahmer’s crimes with his own biographer.
At one point, in what could just as easily have been a description of himself, he said Dahmer’s “need for feelings of self-esteem are usually satisfied only in his fantasies because he cannot garner such fruits from live people”.
He added that Dahmer “needs a totally unresisting, passive model of a human being in order to ‘cross the bridge’ temporarily into ‘society’.”
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