Despite notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer managing to evade authorities for decades, it was an escaped victim and a horrifying discovery of over 80 polaroid photos that would ultimately stop his spree of terror.
Police could never imagine the horror they would encounter, but it brought serious (and much-needed) scrutiny to the law enforcement department and criminal justice system which had failed Dahmer's victims and local community.
Below, everything you need to know about why Dahmer took these photos and how they lead to his arrest.
why did jeffrey dahmer take polaroids of his victims?
Not only did Dahmer take pleasure in degrading the bodies of his victims, but he also made sure to document his sickening process through polaroid photos to further feed his fixation.
"He frequently took photos of his victims at various stages of the murder process, so he could recollect each act afterward and relive the experience," per The Sun.
Dahmer, who often expressed feelings of loneliness and isolation, also explained that he wanted the mementos to "keep him company," per The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology written in 1994.
During a later investigation, police also discovered a childlike drawing which depicted Dahmer's plans to construct an altar in his apartment. Painted skeletons would stand on either side of a back table which would be adorned with painted skulls.
how did jeffrey dahmer's polaroids aid in his arrest?
When Dahmer's intended victim Tracy Edwards escaped from his apartment and flagged down police in July 1991, it would be the serial killer's undoing. After two Milwaukee police officers accompanied Edwards back to Dahmer's apartment, they entered to an overwhelmingly foul stench and asked to look around.
After inspecting the apartment, one officer opened Dahmer's bedside drawer to discover 84 disturbing polaroid photos, documenting the horror he inflicted on his victims. Reports stated that photos included his victim's corpses posed in suggestive positions with their backs arched, documentation of the dismemberment process and Dahmer engaging in necrophilia.
Officer Mueller was reportedly in shock after making the gruelling discovery and told his partner, "these are real."
Police arrested him on the spot and Dahmer was finally taken into custody, muttering "For what I did, I should be dead."
He went on to plead guilty to 16 counts of murder and received 16 life sentences, which worked out to be more than 900 years of jail time.