Files released by the FBI about the Jeffrey Dahmer case have shown how widespread homophobia enabled the serial killer to commit more crimes and also paint his victims in a bad light. 

Dahmer, who was convicted of murdering 17 males between 1978 and 1991, was finally arrested when Tracy Edwards managed to escape Dahmer’s apartment and alert the police.

With interest in the Dahmer case on the rise thanks to the record-breaking Netflix series, FBI files have been released showcasing how widespread homophobia was from police and media alike at the time.


In August 1991, less than a month after Dahmer’s arrest, The Milwaukee Journal ran a piece highlighting the “wide range of views” on the Dahmer case, which included letters linking Dahmer’s crimes to homosexuality.

“As long as a community as a whole allows immorality to flourish, how can you expect all the citizenry to be moral?” one letter questions.

“Now the majority of citizens say that this man is sick. I say that our lawmakers are sick, also. They allow pornography to flourish, thereby poisoning the minds of the people.”

“While fingers are being pointed at the police in Milwaukee, I suggest that instead, we take a serious look at what is being taught, even promoted, in our schools and universities,” another wrote. 

“It is high time that we wake up to the realities of homosexual behaviour and its dangers instead of glorifying it.”

Along with incidents published by The Milwaukee Journal and other media outlets, the police and the judicial system also questioned the relationship between Dahmer’s sexuality and the cause of his crimes.

Notably, following Dahmer’s arrest, enforcement officials described Dahmer’s crimes as “homosexual overkill”, and rumours swirled that police officers obtained a warrant to obtain a blood sample from Dahmer to see if he had AIDS.

Police attitudes in the lead-up to Dahmer’s arrest were also highlighted, including incidents where officers enabled the killer to continue due to homophobia, including an incident when police officers were recorded telling a dispatcher that it had been a “boy-boy” situation when brushing aside the complaints of neighbours trying to protect on of Dahmer’s victims.

The same officers were also recorded stating they would need to be “deloused” after returning to the police station.

Dahmer was eventually sentenced to a total of sixteen terms of life imprisonment – he was killed by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, on November 28, 1994.