Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to enter the general prison population because he thought he deserved to die for his crimes, says Joe Berlinger, director of the new Netflix docuseries Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.
Dahmer, who is also the subject of the new Ryan Murphy series Dahmer — Monster, the Jeffrey Dahmer Story, was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences for his murders in February 1992. As both the documentary and fictionalized Netflix series note, Dahmer did not deny his guilt, but claimed insanity. Berlinger believes that Dahmer, unlike many other serial killers, showed “glimpses of humanity” and remorse.
“I do think he purposely put himself in a situation where he would be taken out because he didn’t have the courage to do it himself. He didn’t have the willpower or strengtyh and I think he, out of guilty set himself up to be killed,” Berlinger says in our interview, which you can watch here or above.
If Berlinger is correct that Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to be murdered, then the so-called “Milwaukee Cannibal” got what he wanted: He was killed in prison on November 28, 1994 — two years after his sentencing — by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. A prison guard later quoted Scarver as saying, “God told me to do it,” the Chicago Tribune reported at the time. Scarver subsequently received two life sentences — one for killing Dahmer, and one for killing another inmate.
Berlinger understands that some people will object to his beliefs about Dahmer.
“The reason I find Dahmer so fascinating is that we see glimpses of humanity,” Berlinger told MovieMaker. “I know when I say that, some people are going to, like, go through the roof — ‘What are you talking about?’ But he is a human being. And we see glimpses of humanity that makes him different than other serial killers, and perhaps provides a clue as to how we can solve the riddle of why certain — and it’s usually men, and it’s usually white men, but not always — why people go down this path.”
Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes is now streaming on Netflix.