Serial Murder - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-12-12
Serial Murder - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology Criminal law
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1801 words
16 min read


For years now, serial murders have plagued the world; for example, In the United States of America, serial killing is one of the baffling and fascinating crimes that occur. Adjorlolo and Chan (2014) defines serial murder as the killing of three or more persons over a period that is more than 30 days with a significant cooling-off and relaxing period. The cooling-off period cannot be determined because it can either be weeks, months, or even years. In the United States of America, serial murders are predominantly young men, with only 3% of young ladies who, in many instances, come from broken homes (Miller, 2014). Serial killings are mainly committed by persons of high IQ and intelligence, and people who in some instances worked in police forces or battalions. This essay presents a case study of Jeffrey Dahmer who was a well renowned serial murder who killed 17 young men.

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A Brief Discussion of the Offender

One of the greatest serial murders was an American serial murder, namely Jeffrey Dahmer, nicknamed Milwaukee Cannibal, or Milwaukee Monster. He was also a sex offender who took away 17 males' lives in 13 years (1978-1991) before a fellow prison mate killed him in 1994. He was the son of Lionel and Joyce Dahmer, born on May 21, 1960 in Wisconsin (Palermo, 2015). His parents described him as an energetic and happy son until at a tender age of four years when a surgery was performed on him that entirely changed his behaviors. He was subdued and in his early teenage years, he felt friendless, disengaged and tense. Dahmer claimed that his murder actions began at the age of 14 years and could have been accelerated by their parents' acrimonious divorce that left him friendless. He did not complete his undergraduate studies because he dropped from the university in the first quarter. Jeffrey later joined the army and in 1981 he was discharged from the army due to his persistent and uncontrollable alcoholic drinking habits. In many instances, he murdered African American men; he sought them from malls, gay bars, bus stops, lured them home, and promised them goodies such as money and sex; he gave them alcohol had harmful drugs, and strangled them to death. He would then engage the corpses into sex acts before disposing them.

In the process of killing, Jeffrey took photos of the victims at different levels of the killing process in which he kept some of the photos as souvenirs. Dahmer's first murder took place immediately after he graduated from high school on June 1978. He lured hitchhiker Steven Hicks whom he took with him to his parent's house; he gave him alcohol laced with drugs; when Hicks tried to leave the house, Jeffrey struck him on his head and also strangled him with a barbell. Another victim was Steven Tuomi, who Jeffrey killed on September 1987 in a hotel room that they had booked. In 1989, Dahmer sodomized, strangled, photographed and murdered an aspiring modelist, Anthony Sears.

Between 1989 and 1991 he murdered 13 victims. He used some of the body parts to perform rituals and, in some instances, consumed the flesh of his victims. He also attempted to drill into the victims' skull while still alive and injected them with muriatic acid. As explained in this context, serial murder is a person who kills three or more people for more than one month with a significant cooling period. In this regard, Jeffrey Dahmer does not fit in the modern explanation of who a serial killer is; this is because, even though he had some cooling periods before he committed the crime, it is evident that he did not kill his victims within more than one month, for example, he killed his first victim in 1978, and the second one in 1987, meaning that the second crime was committed within almost ten years.

Etiological Theories

The best etiological theories applied to the offender (Jeffrey Dahmer) is the social learning theory and biosocial theories. Akers & Jennings (2016) defines social learning theory as an approach that people learn by observing and imitating other people's behavior. In their work, Jimenez and Mesoudi (2019) used the social learning theory (SLT) to study sexual homicide. Their study established that a serial killer does not only require a real and accurate state of mind but must also have accurate environmental cues to undertake the crime. Based on the study, it is therefore evident that the theory is best suited for the offender because Jeffrey Dalmar witnessed and observed many domestic disputes, problems, and altercations between his parents. His parental neglect experiences as a teenager and child denied him the parent-child interaction needed for the right social development. Through the social learning theory application, it was evident that Jeffrey reported anti-social personality disorder traits. Jeffrey also had a history of insecure attachment, abandonment or loss of parents, anti-social behavior, and trauma, among others.

As explained by Fox (2017), it was observed that many serial killers had such traits. He established that most of the offenders' victimologies shared a common topic, as each of them chose a unique and primary characteristic. For example, Jeffrey Dahmer chose young men while offenders such as John Wayne Gacy targeted adolescent boys. In defining biosocial theory, Cavazzi and Becerra (2014) stated that biosocial theory in sociology and behavioral science is an approach used to describe personal disorder mental illness as a biologically determined personality character traits that react to environmental stimuli. In criminology, the biosocial theory explains that social and environmental factors affect criminal behavior and biological factors. In their works, Walsh and Beaver (2013) established that the interaction between social and biological factors provides a perfect ground for developing criminal behaviors. This study can well be applied in the case of Jeffrey Dahmer on how he committed the crimes, both environmental and social factors gave him a perfect ground of performing the serial murders. As evidenced, Jeffrey was raised through a troubled family that left him alone, his withdrawal from his parents, and the persistence in alcoholism also allowed him to commit the crimes. Conclusively, Jeffrey was raised in an environment that afflicted, affected and wholly changed his personal traits leading to mental health ailments. Hence the offender perfectly fits in this approach.

The Offender's Typology

Serial murders generally differ from one another in their personality and their motivation towards committing the crime. Thus researchers such as Smith (2018) have tried to classify the offenders in different typologies. Because typology enables offenders to be classified differently based on a variety of traits and characteristics such as how they commit the crime, the motivation, their psychosocial and psychological factors, and the environment in which they commit crimes. Miller (2014) defines topology as unique and a specific structure or system used in classifying personal traits or any other behavioral patterns; this means that topology classifies different behaviors into a more manageable and useful set of descriptions. As discussed by Smith (2018), the best typology that fits Jeffrey Dahmer is the organized typology. An organized offender is described or defined as a person who lives an orderly life, and this is also reflected in how he commits his crimes. He is also described as a person of average to high intelligence, is skilled and socially competent. An organized offender plans his acts and brings his weapons with him to the crime scene, and after committing the crimes, the offender hides or take off his tools; he also cleans the crime scene to avoid any forensic investigation.

As mentioned, Jeffrey Dahmer serves as a perfect example of this typology; this is because, in his acts, Jeffrey lured his victims into pubs, gave them intoxicated alcohol, and also invited them into his apartment for the final drink. Jeffrey prepared a sedative drink for his victim, and also, in many instances, used surgical equipment and drills to open the head skull of the victims. After committing the crime, he would also preserve some of the organs in jars of formaldehyde. These acts are a perfect resemblance of an organized serial killer. As explained, Jeffrey Dahmer committed his crimes in a well-orchestrated and choreographed manner; this is because, as explained, Jeffrey planned his steps to achieve the results that gave him the unwavering motivation to commit the crimes.


The story of Jeffrey Dahmer presents a perfect case of how serial killers commit their crimes. Even though serial killings have long baffled and fascinated the public in general, today these heinous acts have been on the decline due to increased intelligence and advancements in technology. Some individuals are born as a serial killer, while others are made. In this context, Jeffrey Dahmer is a perfect example of a self-made serial killer whose actions were accelerated by loneliness, friendlessness, and the environment to which it was brought up. The essay has also explained some of the etiological theories and typologies that well fits Jeffrey Dahmer; in this case, it has been found that the offender was an organized criminal whose actions were committed in a well-organized manner.


Adjorlolo, S., & Chan, H. C. O. (2014). The controversy of defining serial murder: Revisited. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19(5), 486-491.

Akers, R. L., & Jennings, W. G. (2016). Social learning theory. Wiley Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice, 230-240.

Beaver, K. (2017). Biosocial theories of crime. Routledge.

Cavazzi, T., & Becerra, R. (2014). Psychophysiological research of borderline personality disorder: Review and implications for biosocial theory. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 185-203.

Fox, B. (2017). It's nature and nurture: Integrating biology and genetics into the social learning theory of criminal behavior. Journal of Criminal Justice, 49, 22-31.

Jiménez, Á. V., & Mesoudi, A. (2019). Prestige-biased social learning: current evidence and outstanding questions. Palgrave Communications, 5(1), 1-12.

Messori, L. R. D. (2016). Frequencies Between Serial Killer Typology and Theorized Etiological Factors (Doctoral dissertation, Antioch University).

Miller, L. (2014). Serial killers: II. Development, dynamics, and forensics. Aggression and violent behavior, 19(1), 12-22.

Palermo, M. T., & Bogaerts, S. (2015). The dangers of posthumous diagnoses and the unintended consequences of facile associations: Jeffrey Dahmer and autism spectrum disorders. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 59(14), 1564-1579.

Smith, J. (2018). Application of Investigative Psychology to Psychodynamic and Human Development Theories: Examining Traits and Typologies of Serial Killers (Doctoral dissertation).

Walsh, A., & Beaver, K. M. (Eds.). (2013). The Ashgate research companion to biosocial theories of crime. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

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