Most of his victims were young, homosexual black men whom Dahmer subjected to sexual assaults prior to murdering. He achieved notoriety after his arrest following the discovery of his victims' decaying bodies in acid vats in his apartment, including severed heads in his refrigerator, an altar of candles, and human skulls. Accusations soon surfaced that Dahmer had also practiced necrophilia and cannibalism, although Dahmer denied that this was a common practice.
The explanation offered by Dahmer himself for his behaviour was that he was attempting to remove the free will from his victims so that they would stay with him. Dahmer had experimented with removing sections of skull and pouring various chemicals into the brain cavity to create an "automaton", compliant to his wishes and acquiescent to his sexual desires, by means of lobotomy and the like.
Dahmer had a history of abandonment and feared loss and further social upheaval. It is thought that these feelings, filtered through his mental illness, created an 'internal logic' that justified his actions to himself. Parallels with the British serial killer Dennis Nielsen are inevitable and likely to be accurate.
Many people were later outraged to find out that Milwaukee, Wisconsin police returned one of Dahmer's naked, dazed, bleeding, yet still alive victims, Laotian teenager Konerak Sinthasomphone, to Dahmer after Konerak was able to flee from Dahmer. Konerak did not speak English and Dahmer told officers that Konerak was his adult homosexual lover.
On July 22, 1991, with handcuffs still attached to one wrist, another man, Tracy Edwards, was able to successfully escape from Dahmer's apartment and flag down a police squad car. Police were led back to Dahmer's apartment, where the remains of eleven victims were found. After being charged with fifteen counts of murder he entered a plea of guilty but insane. On February 17, 1992, a court sentenced Dahmer to fifteen consecutive life sentences which required a minimum of 936 years imprisonment.
He was clubbed to death by a deranged fellow inmate named Christopher Scarver in Portage, Wisconsin at the Columbia Correctional Institute gymnasium. Scarver stated that he was the "son of God," and was acting out his "father's" commands to kill Dahmer and another inmate on Dahmer's work detail.