Jeffrey Dahmer's 'Revelations'

Five days before his death, in his weekly Bible study, Jeffrey Dahmer pondered the Book of Revelations. At Christ's second coming, Chapter 9 prophesied, scorpions would so torture sinners that they would beg for death. With his minister's prodding, Dahmer ruefully reflected on his request at his 1992 murder trial that he die for his crimes -- an option denied by Wisconsin law. Later he'd contemplated suicide. But since his baptism in a cramped prison whirlpool last May, Dahmer had thrown off his death wish. ""He looked forward to his life,'' says the Rev. Roy Ratcliff, Dahmer's only regular visitor. ""He looked forward to serving the God who had forgiven him.''

Dahmer's death last week, if less macabre than the 17 murders he confessed to, was every bit as violent. The necrophiliac who had cannibalized young men in his Milwaukee apartment was beaten as he cleaned a prison gymnasium bathroom. A paramedic called to the scene described the head wounds as worse than any he'd seen in traffic wrecks. Dahmer died soon after in a Portage, Wis., hospital. One clue: a bloody broom handle. A letter from an inmate to Dahmer's attorney claimed that the victim's name was among seven on a hit list drawn up by other prisoners. But the prime suspect was a convicted murderer who has been diagnosed as delusional, schizophrenic and manic-depressive.

Dahmer knew that adjusting to prison life meant risking just the kind of attack that ended his life. After months of being isolated for his protection, Dahmer asked for more human contact at the 600-inmate maximum-security prison, and was assigned to a unit reserved for inmates with emotional problems. He argued to remain there after another prisoner clumsily tried to cut him with a makeshift knife in July. Last month Dahmer was allowed to take a janitorial job. Though the promotion exposed him to more inmates, one official told Newsweek, ""he was very insistent that he go into the general prison population. He wanted to see more of the world.''

At 7:50 last Monday morning, Dahmer began working on a three-man cleaning crew. The three may have been left alone for a time. At 8:10, Dahmer and fellow inmate Jesse Anderson were found bludgeoned; Anderson died two days later. Prison sources say guards found blood on the third member of the crew, Christopher Scarver, who once claimed to be the million-year-old Son of God. Investigators are questioning others who were near the gym at the time. One source told Newsweek that officials are exploring whether inmates urged the ""borderline intelligent'' Scarver, who has not been charged, to attack the pair. Since the murdered men were white and most of Dahmer's victims, like Scarver, were black, race has been raised as a motive. State prison chief Mike Sullivan doubts the crimes were racially inspired.

The families of Dahmer's victims will press their claim on his assets, including $500 in ""gate money'' kept in a prison account for the day of his parole. That could have come no earlier than March 2934, after Dahmer had served 941 years in prison. As it turned out, he served less than three.