“Jeffrey Dahmer Signed My Father’s Yearbook!”

A look at a serial killing cannibal in high school.

Jeffrey Dahmer is surely one of the most fascinating serial killers of all time. It's likely that he would have never been caught, had he not fucked up royally one evening and allowed a potential victim to escape. Dahmer's secret was targeting people the police didn't care about - young black men. The authorities will tear apart heaven and earth to find a missing white girl, but a missing black boy is just another statistic.

What makes him so fascinating is the level of depravity on which he operated. Authorities discovered multiple bodies, which had been terribly mutilated, and in some cases eaten, at his home. They learned that he had been lobotomizing victims at home in order to create a subservient sex zombie. His evil was so epic it almost seems fictional. But he was real, and he had a real life outside of butchering innocents.

Dahmer's sickness began early in his life, but most around him didn't see it. They just saw a weird, kind of fucked up kid. This year widely acclaimed cartoonist Derf Backderf released My Friend Dahmer, a comics recollection of going to high school - and being good buddies - with a guy who would go on to be a national symbol for horror. But of course Derf (born John Backderf. How weird is that only half his wacky name is fake?) wasn't Dahmer's only classmate. Redditor kunpapa's father went to high school with them as well - and Dahmer signed his yearbook. Multiple years.

What's interesting is seeing the change in Dahmer just in his writing. This is freshman year Dahmer:

He's a 14 or 15 year old kid, with handwriting that looks about right for his age. But as time goes on, Dahmer changes. He begins drinking heavily (he was a very serious alcoholic) and doing drugs. Here he is in junior year, just two years later:

And here's his junior year picture. I always thought that Dahmer wasn't a bad looking guy. For a cannibal.

I wonder if he was struggling with his sexuality at the time. He was already mutilating animals by high school - was he also wrestling with his own gay nature? He would kill his first victim at age 18, a man he had intended to have sex with, so he was definitely on the verge by the time of this last photo and signature. I know it may seem strange to feel bad for someone who did things so unspeakable, but in high school Dahmer wasn't yet that person. Could his course have been changed? If he had been able to be more comfortable with who he was would his future have been different? Could Ted or Backderf or anyone else have said something or done something that might have made Dahmer go down a different path? It's comforting to think that serial killers are just born that way, but I suspect it is much, much more complicated than that.