What Happened To Jeffrey Dahmer’s Mother, Joyce?


Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story depicted Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother Joyce Dahmer, but what happened to the Milwaukee Cannibal’s mom after his death?

Content Warning: This article contains discussions of suicide.

Since Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix show Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story premiered, information about the “Milwaukee Cannibal” and his family has been in demand. Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, born Joyce Flint, has been known prominently from the words of her ex-husband Lionel Dahmer in his 1994 book A Father’s Story. In his account of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood, he claimed that Joyce suffered from depression and was later diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after her second pregnancy with Jeffrey’s little brother, David Dahmer. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story depicted Joyce’s mental health condition, but didn’t delve deep into what happened to Joyce or her side of the story.


As shown in the Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story series, Joyce Dahmer seemingly felt trapped in her turbulent relationship with Lionel Dahmer. After their divorce in 1978, Joyce obtained custody of David and moved to Fresno, California, where she worked as a manager in a retirement home. In 1991, she became a case manager for Central Valley AIDs Team, where her coworkers found her “able to have a great deal of empathy for people with HIV.” Her empathy encouraged her to found “The Living Room,” an HIV community center that opened in 1996. However, her son’s actions followed her after his murder in 1994, and she made several attempts to commit suicide. On November 27, 2000, Joyce passed away at age 64 from breast cancer.

Related: Monster: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Complete Timeline In Chronological Order

Did Jeffrey Dahmer’s Mother Visit Him In Prison?

Before Jeffrey Dahmer’s death in 1994, Joyce talked to her son at least once a week on the telephone. She once asked her son if he still had these urges and to which he replied “Yes, Mom, I’m so glad I’m locked up. I’d be afraid of what I’d do if I weren’t locked up.” In a 1994 interview with Hard Copy, she said she loved her son and visited him in prison, where he admitted to being constantly scared. She also believed that his urges came from something outside himself, and he wanted to be a good person. His desire to do good was one of the driving reasons that Joyce fought to save Dahmer’s brain after his remains were cremated. She wanted to donate his brain for study, but Lionel Dahmer wanted the brain to be cremated with the rest of his body.

In Joyce’s interview with Hard Copy, she explained her perspective on her son, which is that Jeffrey Dahmer was not a monster, but a human being. Joyce had a Master’s degree in counseling and believed that Jeffrey deserved therapy in prison. She also said he was a victim of compulsion and there wasn’t enough research into what made him commit these horrendous acts. While Lionel Dahmer tried to put the blame on Joyce’s parenting and her mental struggles, Joyce argued that this was an easy answer and did not account for the complexities of the human condition. Joyce never stopped loving her son and after her son’s death, she often gave speeches about the challenges of the gay community in America. While Joyce Dahmer’s side of the story was briefly explored in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, her love and empathy for her son and desire to understand what factors had played a role in the horrendous crimes he committed were largely left out.

Next: Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story Sparked An Important True Crime Debate


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