Why Jeffrey Dahmer's Dad Lionel Thinks His Son Was Driven to Kill

Netflix has just released a new drama titled Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story which focuses on the titular serial killer who committed the rape, murder and dismemberment of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

The show, helmed by Ryan Murphy, sees Evan Peters portray the notorious murderer as it explores his crimes and the aftermath of his arrest which saw him be given 15 life sentences for a total of 957 years in prison. Dahmer died in prison in 1994 after being beaten to death by a fellow inmate.

Dahmer's father, Lionel, the author of A Father's Story, has often spoken about his son and tried to articulate why he believed his son became a serial killer.

Why Jeffrey Dahmer's Dad Lionel Thinks He Was Driven to Kill

Lionel and Jeffrey Dahmer
This composite image shows Lionel Dahmer (L), father of confessed serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (R), standing outside of Columbia Correctional Institute where his son is imprisoned. Lionel explained in several interviews why he believed his son was driven to kill. Steve Kagan/Curt Borgwardt/Getty Images/Sygma via Getty Images

Over the years since his son's killings came to light, Lionel often made appearances on talk shows to share his thoughts on the matter.

In an interview with Charles Gibson on Good Morning America in the 1990s, Lionel said of what he felt could be the reason for his son's actions: "The closest I could come to why—to give some type of a causality for all this—is that I think it was a cumulative thing.

"I think there were several events in his life starting with the hernia operation, his concern about having his penis being cut off which he expressed to his mother at the time, I didn't even know about that until the trial in February '92.

"That plus a blow to the back of the head, plus I don't know these various incidents, going around and getting roadkill.

"All these things came to a cumilative ending and it hooked on, I firmly believe it hooked into his sexuality at age 14 or 15. There really were no overt signs. He wasn't foaming at the mouth or talking to himself in his sleep, or acting in a weird fashion."

Evan Peters Jeffrey Dahmer
Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" on Netflix. Dahmer's father, in real life, often spoke about why he believed his son was driven to kill. Netflix

The father said that his son was a "very wonderful little boy" but that he was "very shy" and "very reclusive" when growing up, something he urged other parents to keep track of with their own children.

"That's another thing that I would like to come across to parents, even if their child seems innocuously shy try to draw out their concerns and anger," he said on the show. "Because if they don't talk to anyone there's no reality checking at all, and what they can't distinguish between fantasy and reality."

Lionel reiterated this in a 1994 interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying: "The only signs I saw was shyness and reluctance to engage in social interactions, that sort of thing. But really no overt signs of any kind."

During the interview, Lionel said that his son had not been sexually or physically abused as a child. Looking for a reason as to why Dahmer killed, he said he believed it was his son's reluctance to speak about his problems that was a red flag.

"I don't have a lot of scientific evidence for this, but this is a message I want to give to parents: I feel if a youngster, especially a male, comes through his puberty and keeps everything in, bottles everything inside without talking to peers, friends, family about anything at all about their fears, anger, frustration, I feel it's very possible that all of those fears they get mixed up with their sexual awakening, so much so that they don't understand what's going on," he said.

In a 2020 documentary about his son titled Mind of a Monster, Lionel also shared how his divorce from Dahmer's mother, Joyce Flint, came as a shock.

"Jeff reacted badly, he went out and started slapping the trees with a branch apparently because he felt like he lost control, and he was obviously frustrated by that," Lionel said. "He would come home drunk from high school, the drinking got worse and worse and I talked about the dangers of him continuing but I think at that time he was just so addicted physically and mentally."

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is out on Netflix now.