Dahmer: A Legacy of Terror

Dahmer's possessions destroyed--we get an exclusive look

CREATED Jul 21, 2011

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  • Video by wtmj.com


MILWAUKEE - Our special coverage of "Jeffrey Dahmer: A Legacy of Terror" continues. It's been 20 years since the infamous serial killer was arrested, and 15 years since he was killed in prison.


After Dahmer's death, all the items seized from his apartment were destroyed, and it turns out the destruction was videotaped. We got an exclusive look at the destruction of Dahmer's relics.

It all started on a day Milwaukeeans will never forget: June 22, 1991. Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested after detectives discover human remains in his apartment.

Dahmer's macabre instruments of death are taken from his personal torture chamber. The ghastly images are part of our collective memory: The refrigerator where police discovered a severed head, and the 55 gallon blue vats filled with acid.


After Dahmer was killed in prison, prosecutors had no need for the contents of his apartment, which were being held in a police evidence room. Fearing the items would be auctioned off and held as souvenirs by curiosity seekers, the late Milwaukee businessman Joe Zilber launched an effort to buy everything and destroy it. Mike Mervis was Zilber's right hand man.


"To sell things that were used to kill somebody is just wrong, and its impact on the city of Milwaukee would have been devastating... Devastating," Mervis recalls.

Zilber reached out to fellow business leaders, politicans, and prominent Milwaukeeans. They raised $400,000 and purchased all the items, with the proceeds going to the victims' families.

At 5 a.m. on a sultry June morning, Mervis, cops, prosecutors, and technicians gathered at the old District 3 police headquarters to collect all the repulsive relics of Jeffery Dahmer's reign of terror. The grim task was videotaped. Until now, the recording has never been seen by the public


"All of the items that had been used as evidence in the trial, I want to repeat, all of the items, and other materials that had been stored as evidence were brought out. They were in envelopes or wrapping paper," Mervis says.


There were saw blades, a hammer, and a yellow handsaw--the tools used to take young lives.


Even Dahmer's jeans and pillow were destroyed. There were also drugs, the refrigerator, the blue vat, and finally Dahmer's bicycle was part of the grisly collection.


Mervis says it was a tough three hours sorting through the stuff. The evidence room was warm and crowded. They got thru everything, but days later, what he had seen, still haunted Mervis.


"For the next couple of nights I had just terrible nightmares. It was a very difficult time," Mervis remembers.


The items were then loaded into a garbage truck and taken to an undisclosed landfill in Illinois. All of it was videotaped, including when a 90-ton earth mover crushed it all.

If you look closely you can see the infamous blue vat, and dahmer's bicycle.


Mervis explains the process, "This was an active landfill, so additional garbage was put on top. So it was garbage on garbage. That seems to be a fitting epitapth."


David Thomas was one of Jeffrey dahmer's victims. His family says the never before seen videotape helps them, knowing that Dahmer's relics wont show up on eBay.

 Roland Thomas, Jr. is his brother. He says, "I'm glad it's over with. All of it. The pots. The pans. All of it. I don't like thinking about it at all."


Valerie Allen is David's sister. She says, "It's good because no one will be able to profit from that and then the family don't have to go thru those hard times and stop it from happening."


Steven Thomas, another brother adds, "It's just better that its gone because of the memory of what went on. Bad enough what he did, what he was doing there."

 David's mom and dad say the destruction of Dahmer's tools of death gives them piece of mind.

 "I think it's good that it's gone because I just felt they would have been immortalizing him," David's dad Roland says.


Mervis says he has no doubts everything related to the trial is buried in the landfill.

 "Absolutely. Positively, without any doubt. There it rests and there it will stay," Mervis asserts.