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Throughout the 1970s to the mid 1990s, America was cursed with many tragedies and mass murderers. Citizens of the country were introduced to awful, heartless, people like Charles Manson, the Zodiac Killer, Richard Ramirez, and John Wayne Gacy. Though, after watching extensive documentaries about two of America’s most notorious murderers: Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, despite their differences, I found many similarities between the two.
Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal who retained and ate various body parts of his victims. He murdered 17 teenage boys and young men between 1978 and 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia.
Ted Bundy on the other hand, was a law student who raped and murdered more than 35 women in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Utah, and Washington.
To begin with, Ted Bundy’s life growing up involved a lot of confusion within him not knowing that his so-called sister was actually his mother. For three years, Bundy lived in the Philadelphia home of his grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor Cowell, who raised him as their son to avoid the social stigma that accompanied his real mother’s birth outside wedlock at the time.
Though what seemed so perfect on the outside was the total opposite on the inside. Bundy’s grandfather, Samuel, was recalled as a very violent and belligerent person. His grandmother Eleanor, on the contrary, was timid and obedient, as described by family and friends. She periodically underwent electroconvulsive therapy for depression. At a young age, Bundy showed alarming signs. His aunt, Julia recalls waking up one day to being surrounded by knives around her head and Bundy to her bedside, smiling. Fast forward in time, Dahmer found out that his “sister”, was actually his mother. She then got married to a man named Johnny. They had four children. Throughout his adolescence years, Ted always was distant from his other siblings and parents. He often found himself in people’s trash cans in search of photos, magazines, etc of naked women. He also was very invested in reading crime and gruesome novels and articles about murder cases. He was very quiet and never really developed a social life throughout his high school years. As he got older, Bundy majored in Psychology at the University of Washington. He was an honor student, and well regarded by his professors. However after being rejected by his first love, something inside him ignited. He started killing women on campus during the nights and women around the area. Later he moved to Utah for law school. He continued killing there as well.
As for Jeffrey Dahmer, his life growing up was fairly unusual as well. As a child, his parents were busy. His father was attending Marquette University, majoring in chemistry, while his mother suffered from extreme severe anxiety. On one occasion, Dahmer’s mother, Joyce, attempted suicide by overdosing on prescription pills. Aside of all of this, at a young age, Dahmer showed an interest in dead animals. He occasionally collected animal carcasses from the road and then dismember them. Some say that Dahmer’s fascination with dead animals may have begun when he saw his father removing animal bones from beneath his home. According to Dahmer’s father, Jeffrey was “oddly thrilled” by the sound bones made. He clearly showed signs early on of some unusual interest. During his high school years, Jeffrey was initially seen as an outcast. Peers recall Dahmer bring and consuming alcohol in school. This time in his life was very confusing for him as well. Dahmer came to the realization that he was homosexual. Regardless of that, his peers acknowledged him as a class-clown due to some pranks he was known to do. In the midst of his high school fame, Jeffrey’s parents were growing apart. After several unsuccessful counseling sessions, Jeffrey’s father, Lionel, moved out of the house. Weeks after graduation, Dahmer’s mother, Joyce, left the home with custody of her younger son, thus leaving Jeffrey in the family home alone. This manifested his twisted thoughts and he finally had an opportunity to make his wildest fantasies come true. His first victim was a male hitchhiker and it went downhill from there.
So to compare the two gruesome murderers, they both had a parent that suffered from a mental disorder. Bundy’s mother was severely depressed and Dahmer’s had severe anxiety. To obviously state, they both were unsympathetic serial killers. They also had very impressionable childhoods. Ted lived with his violent “father” and grew up to find out that he was actually his grandfather. As for Jeffrey, after seeing his father remove bones, it stuck with him forever and eventually manifested into something worse. To dig deeper, however, Dahmer and Bundy both killed for sexual satisfaction. Dahmer stated that he liked the feeling of being in control during sexual acts, and he wanted to find a way to own his sexual partners in a way. Bundy, similarly stated that he enjoyed killing and mutilating women to feel sexual arousal. Both men both were obviously psychopaths. On the surface they seemed more than normal to the average person, but deep down they manipulated people and committed horrendous acts. I would also say that both Dahmer and Bundy didn’t really have any concept of love. Dahmer didn’t have a lot of tender loving care growing up, and Bundy definitely didn’t either.
The differences between these men are very polarized in a few ways. Ted and Jeffrey had different “types” to prey on. All of Bundy’s victims were very similar appearance-wise. His “type” was young women that had blonde hair with a part down the middle. People think that was so simply because a woman that broke his heart that similar features. On the other hand, almost all of Dahmer’s victims were gay young men. This would be obvious because he showed attraction to men and wanted to engage in sexual acts with them.
One would say that these two individuals were born to be killers. Some may say that it was their experiences throughout their childhoods that started it all. Some may also say it is a combination of both. It comes down to the simple nature versus nurture. I personally think it was a combination of nature and nurture. I say this because after researching and watching in depth documentaries on the two men, they did have negative and traumatic childhoods, yet they both showed and tested positive for mental disorders. The evidence of them having mental disorders would actually make sense, since their mothers both had mental disorders as well.
To conclude this analyzation of the notorious Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, after America was plagued with those two monsters over a span of 20 years, both Dahmer and Bundy are now deceased. Bundy was convicted of kidnapping, attempted murder, attempted rape, murder, rape, and sexual assault and was sentenced to the death penalty and was executed by the electric chair in 1989. Dahmer was convicted of the same things. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but only to have it cut short by being killed brutally by an inmate in 1994. After researching these two men,
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