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Severed Heads, Other Body Parts Found in Milwaukee Apartment

July 24, 1991 GMT

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A handcuffed man flagged down police, said he’d been attacked and led them to an apartment where they found many pieces of human bodies, including three heads in a refrigerator, authorities said Tuesday.

Police Chief Phillip Arreola said there were many victims, most male and of various races. He didn’t specify the number. One officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there may have been 15 victims.

The Milwaukee Sentinel, quoting a source it didn’t identify, reported Wednesday that the man who lived in the apartment confessed to killing 11 men and that there may have been as many as 18 victims. The paper’s source also said the man confessed to cannibalism.

The Sentinel, quoting other sources it didn’t name, also reported that police found 11 skulls scattered in a file cabinet, a closet, a refrigerator and a freezer and three headless torsos in a vat in the man’s bedroom.

Police late Tuesday wouldn’t comment on the reports.

Jeffrey L. Dahmer, 31, who lived in the dingy, fly-infested apartment, was taken into custody late Monday, police said. Police removed boxes filled with body parts, a barrel of acid, a refrigerator and a dresser brimming with photographs and drawings of mutilated dead bodies.

Neighbors had complained of a stench for up to a year, and on Tuesday a hazardous materials team wore yellow rubber suits and breathed from air tanks while removing boxes from the apartment.

One neighbor said he had heard the sound of sawing from the apartment at all hours.

Arreola said it was too early to determine if the killings were sexually motivated, adding, ″We don’t know if this individual acted alone or in concert with other individuals.″

Dahmer was booked on suspicion of homicide but wasn’t charged Tuesday, Lt. Thomas Breitlow said.

Ella Vickers, 31, who lives next door, said she and her husband had smelled a repugnant odor for some time.

″We’ve been smelling odors for weeks, but we thought it was a dead animal or something like that. We had no idea it was humans,″ Ms. Vickers said.

Rolf Mueller, one of the patrolmen who made the discovery, said officers were overpowered by the stench. Mueller said he found three preserved human heads in the refrigerator.

″You think you’ve seen it all out here, and then something like this happens,″ said Mueller, a 10-year police veteran.

Larry Marion, who managed the apartment when the suspect moved in two years ago, said the smell was so bad last spring that many residents complained.

He said the suspect claimed his refrigerator was broken, causing meat to spoil. Marion said the stench had permeated from the apartment intermittently for about a year.

″He didn’t associate with many people, kind of a loner. But, he never caused any problems. He worked every day and always paid his rent,″ Marion said.

One neighbor told police he and his wife had heard sawing coming from the apartment at all hours of the day and night.

″I asked my wife, ’What is he building in there?‴ said Vernell Bass, 35.

Arreola said the body parts were found after a man on the street, handcuffs dangling from his wrist, flagged down a patrol car Monday night and said he had escaped from the apartment ″after actually being handcuffed and threatened with a knife.″

Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen said no identification had been made on the dismembered bodies and it wasn’t known how long they had been in the apartment. Jentzen said police wouldn’t let him elaborate on what body parts were found or their condition.

Arreola said missing persons files are being reviewed and that police departments in other states have contacted him.

The FBI is helping Milwaukee police work with other police departments, though the agency isn’t investigating, spokesman Dale Mueller said.

Dahmer originally was from Medina, Ohio, and had been in Milwaukee several years, Arreola said.

Court records show the man has a conviction for second degree sexual assault for offering a 13-year-old boy $50 to pose for nude photos in 1988. He was released from jail last year after serving about a year, and was placed on a five-year probation.

At the time, his father wrote to Circuit Judge William Gardner asking that the court ensure his son ″get some type of treatment″ upon his release.

″I do feel this may be our last chance to institute something lasting and that you can hold the key,″ Lionel H. Dahmer of Medina, Ohio, wrote in the letter dated March 1, 1990. There was no answer at his home Tuesday afternoon.

Jeffrey Dahmer also was cited in 1982 at the Wisconsin State Fair on a charge of indecent exposure, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department records said.

Ambrosia Chocolate Co., a downtown manufacturer of candy, confirmed Dahmer worked in the company’s manufacturing department from Jan. 14, 1985 to July 15 of this year. He was allowed to keep working there during the day while in jail for the sexual assault conviction, court records showed.

The apartment complex is about three miles west of downtown, a few blocks from the Marquette University campus. Neighbors said it was a high-crime area. ″You hear gunshots all the time around here,″ said Henry Barnett, 26.