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The Serial Killers in America: Comparison Between Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer

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The Serial Killers in America: Comparison Between Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer essay
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Serial Killers

Jeffery Dahmer and Charles Manson were two of the most well known serial killers of the twentieth century. The differences between the two are numerous. Neither of them had the same motives, the same types of victims, similar amounts of victims, nor did they grow up in a similar place. However, there are a few aspects of their lives that are almost completely identical, as these aspects are nearly identical to all those who are given the title of serial killer. They both had traumatic childhood experiences, they both had some form of mental illness and they both were abusers of drugs or alcohol. These three factors would eventually be thought of as the main contributors their horrific life’s events.

Jeffery Dahmer was born in Milwaukie Wisconsin, May 21st, 1960. At a young age he was described as a bright and happy child. He was extremely interested in nature and wildlife as a young child and all through his life. On several occasions, Dahmer was known to love learning about human and animal anatomy. He would often be caught riding his bike around the neighborhood looking for road kill to collect. If at any time he found it, Dahmer would then take the dead animal home with him in a plastic bag and dissect it. There were other accounts of Dahmer showing an intense appreciation for the insides of animals. His father had once been collecting dead animals from under the house during a summer cleaning session. In his words:

I brought them out, put them in a metal pail just to collect them all in one place. They dropped in with sort of a clanking noise. And Jeff seemed kind of interested in that noise and he took a hold of them and dropped them drop down in too. You know in retrospect, everything looks grim and dark and sinister. You know like, could that be the start of something evil? Well, I have to admit, it’s simply just the curiosity of a child. No more than ten years later, Dahmer’s family moved to the small rural town of Bath, Ohio. During this time Dahmer had felt his first seclusion to his new home. He would remain to feel anti-social and secluded throughout his high school years.

During his high school years, Dahmer began to realize he only had sexual feelings for men. Not only did he only have sexual feelings for men, but he also had a sexual obsession with knocking out and killing his lovers in his fantasies to view their insides afterwards. Wanting to fit in and not call attention to himself in a negative way, he never told anyone about these feelings. As he grew older, his parent’s marriage began to fall apart. They would eventually divorce the year of his graduation. During the initial separation, Lionel, Dahmer’s father, moved out of their house into a hotel across town to get away from his wife for a time being. Soon after Dahmer’s mother left the house with her youngest son, leaving Dahmer alone in his house by himself. This was the next experience of Dahmer feeling truly lonesome. The feeling of total lonesomeness combined with his sexual repression led Dahmer to begin drinking heavily.

During that summer after his graduation, Dahmer picked up a hitchhiker who was passing through his town named Steven Hicks. At first Hicks and Dahmer hit it off like good friends. Dahmer invited Hicks into his home and acted as a gracious host. When Hicks went to leave, Dahmer struck him in the back of the head with a barbell that knocked him out. Then Dahmer proceeded to strangle Hicks. With a dead man lying in his house, this was the first time Dahmer was able to act out his violent sexual fantasies. He practiced necrophilia on Hicks’ body, and then took him apart piece by piece. He shattered his bones and spread the pieces around his heavily wooded backyard. This first murder was something of a milestone for Dahmer. After he was finished with the deed, he felt heavy remorse. With this remorse his drinking habit grew much worse.

Dahmer would go on to attend college, only to drop out after the first half of his first semester. This was due to the fact that he spent all his time getting drunk and not doing his schoolwork. When Lionel found out about this, he told his son his other best alternative was to join the military. So Jeffery did as his father told him. While in the military, he was very happy for a period of time. He had gotten in better shape and joined the medic unit, where he continued to gain desired knowledge about human anatomy. Just like college however, his remorse still caught up with him in the form of heavy drinking. Dahmer’s officers took notice of his habits and eventually had him discharged.

With nowhere left to go, Dahmer moved to Milwaukie with his grandma and got a job working in a factory. While living in Milwaukie, Dahmer discovered the gay bars, and began picking up men. These men were willing, but did not know they would be eventually killed by Dahmer. Dahmer soon got his own apartment in a slum neighborhood in Milwaukie and used it to lure men into his house and perform his sexual fantasies (“A&E Biography: Jeffery Dahmer,” Dahmer).

Charles Manson had an even much more disturbed childhood than Jeffery Dahmer did. Manson was born November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati Ohio. As a young boy, Manson’s mother was arrested and put in jail. He would visit her on occasion, but generally lived in West Virginia with his aunt and uncle. They tried their best to raise him properly, but he eventually ended up bouncing around from town to town in the mid-west with his mother again after she had gotten out of jail. After a few years of dodging parole officers and child protective services, Manson’s mother finally agreed to put him into a school for boys and leave him there. After ten months, Manson ran away to search for his mother, and live with her again. After Manson finally located his mother, she rejected him from her home and told him to go back to where he came from. After this point in life, Manson began to have different feelings about the world and his mother. His own words are as follows:

The only thing my mother taught me was that everything she said was a lie. And I learned never to believe anyone about anything. From that point on, Manson’s life kept falling further and further down. Soon after his mother called the authorities on her own son and had he returned to the school in which he ran away from, he ran away again. This time after running away, Manson turned to a life of petty crime. His acts included things from stealing from other children, breaking into stores and destroying property. In 1949, Manson did time in a juvenile facility. After he was out let out, he began stealing cars, broke into stores and committed armed robbery. After being caught again by authorities, he was sent to the Indiana School for boys. At this school, Manson claimed he was raped and beaten severely. He once again ran away from his school and continued his life of crime. After being caught again and again for crime after crime, Manson eventually ended up in federal reform schools. He had no luck in escaping these institutions, but was paroled from them in 1954. After his parole, Manson continued to get himself in trouble. His petty crimes were beginning to form repetition when he finally was caught violating his parole by forging a $43 dollar check. This simple crime for a smaller amount than what he usually stole for had big time punishment due to the fact that it was a federal offence. Manson, now 21 years old, was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1959. While Manson was in prison, he learned that instead of fighting the system, he knew he had to find a way to manipulate it instead. During this long prison sentence, Manson learned the art of persuasive speaking. He served 8 of those years with good behavior, and it was recorded that once he was granted parole, he asked to stay incarcerated. He had been in some form of prison or jail for over half his life and was not accustom to the world outside.

When he finally was released in 1967, he was set loose on the hippie world in San Francisco. From there he used his abilities of persuasion to gather a group of young and foolish followers that would later be known as “The Manson Family.” He eventually used hard drugs with his family and became paranoid of a race war that he believed would happen when The Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter” came out. This mixture of traumatic lifetimes, hard drugs and severe mental issues lead to Manson convincing his family to kill seven different people in two nights during the summer of 1969 (“A&E Biography: Charles Manson,” Bugliosoi).

They say that no two criminals are alike. This however, may not be true after the three very similar points about these two dangerous serial killers. Both Dahmer and Manson had a traumatic childhood, both had abused drugs or alcohol and both had certain types of mental illness. What could have been most important of all is that both were very intelligent and persuasive speakers, which allowed them access to their killings. The United States only holds about 5% of the world’s total population, but statistics show that about 75% of the world’s serial killers live in The United States (Freccero).

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The Serial Killers in America: Comparison Between Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
“The Serial Killers in America: Comparison Between Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
The Serial Killers in America: Comparison Between Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Oct. 2021].
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