This month marks 23 years since Jeffrey Dahmer was killed while in prison, where he was serving time for the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 17 young men. Though decades have passed since all of his horrific crimes, for the family of his victims, there are some wounds that time simply won’t heal — especially with all the renewed attention on the case.
Hollywood has taken an interest in Dahmer and his tragic crimes, as his case is the subject of two different films — the upcoming big screen movie My Friend Dahmer (which came to theaters last week, on Nov. 3) as well as the two-part, made-for-TV documentary, Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks (which will premiere on Oxygen Nov. 11). Understandably, introducing the case to a new generation of true crime aficionados has been hard for the people who senselessly lost a loved one all those years ago.
Janie Hagen, who lost her brother Richard Guerrero to Dahmer, spoke to her local Fox affiliate in 2012 when it was revealed that someone created a Dahmer-inspired walking tour of Milwaukee, retracing the steps where he found and killed his victims. “[My brother] was only 21. I have a son that’s 21 now. I can only imagine what my mother went through. That was her child. That was her baby,” she said at the time. Despite the many years that have passed since her brother’s death, it hasn’t become any easier to cope. “My mind is like a VCR — it pauses and rewinds and it always takes me back to that courtroom.”
Similarly, Stephanie McCay — second cousin of Dahmer’s victim Jamie Doxtator, who was only 14 when he was killed — said that grieving has never been easy, and it’s never really over. “The pain never goes away,” she told People. “Even now, I can’t really talk about it. It’s so painful.”
After being found legally sane to stand trial, in February he was found guilty of committing 15 of the 16 murders committed in the state of Wisconsin, and was ordered to service 15 life sentences in federal prison (he was later found guilty of the 16th murder, which was committed in Ohio). On Nov. 24, 1994 — just two-and-a-half years into his sentence — he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.