Dahmer: The victims' families
Dahmer: Families of victims speak at sentencingPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
Click on the video link to see TODAY'S TMJ4 raw video of a family member of a victim becoming emotional and threatening Jeffrey Dahmer during his sentencing hearing in 1992.
MILWAUKEE - Sadistic details of Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes including dismemberment and cannibalism began hitting the public in the days after Jeffrey Dahmer’s arrest at his Milwaukee apartment on July 22nd, 1991.
The world was discovering a monster, a man who killed 17 men and boys over a period of 13 years, and the victims’ families would learn the true terror of what happened to their loved ones.
“It was a very tragic thing for the family,” says Inez Thomas, the mother of David Thomas, Dahmer’s 9th victim.
“We all had our own ways of dealing and coping with the situation.”
The concern began in the fall of 1990, when family members believe Thomas met Dahmer in downtown Milwaukee and was somehow convinced to go along with him.
Thomas would never be seen again.
“We kept looking and we kept calling, hoping that he would call but there was no call from David,” explains Inez Thomas who spent countless sleepless nights worried sick.
“We were very close. We always let everybody know wherever you going let me know when you’ll be back. He just, never came back.”
The family put out a missing persons’ report about a month after Thomas’ disappearance but Thanksgiving went by, as did his birthday in December and some members of the family began to assume the worst.
An Endless Search
“By you not knowing what happened to your loved one, you continuously wonder, it’s continuously on your mind,” explains the victim’s sister Valerie Allen.
“You’re hoping he showed up on a holiday on somebody’s birthday and that wasn’t happening.”
Allen says many in the family assumed David Thomas had simply left the Milwaukee area to pursue a career in rap.
However, Thomas had two children and a girlfriend and it just was not like him to leave without telling anyone where he was going.
Less than a year after the missing persons’ report went out, Milwaukee police arrested Jeffrey Dahmer and learned David Thomas was among his victims.
Identifying a Loved One
Dahmer had taken photos of all of his victims before disposing of the bodies.
In the subsequent criminal case, the serial killer worked diligently with authorities to sift through missing persons’ reports and identify exactly who he had murdered.
Thomas was clearly one of the 17 victims, and the family was brought in to the investigation.
“The police had pictures of all Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims,” explains Allen. “The picture they had of my brother was just before he started mutilating his body so he was laying in the tub.”
“That’s how we identified him.”
Families were being forced to look at gruesome images that would be forever imprinted in their minds.
“You try to forget,” says Allen. “You want to forget but there’s going to be something that pops up that reminds you. It never goes away.”
Facing a Serial Killer
The family held a well-attended memorial service for their loved one and dealt with their grief largely through faith.
The victim’s mother also found a rather unique way to grasp at closure when she stood up during the internationally covered trial and faced the man who murdered her son.
“I wasn’t nervous,” recalls Inez Thomas. “I was calm because I had to keep my thoughts together.”
Thomas stepped up to a podium and introduced herself to the court.
With powerful emotions streaming through her body, she looked Dahmer in the eyes, telling him he should never be able to walk the face of the Earth again.
“I just wanted to let him know that he took away my baby boy. David was the baby of the family.”
“I let him know that one day you’re going to be punished and you’re going to be punished hard for what you did.”
Jeffrey Dahmer may have stolen the young man from his loved ones but David Thomas is kept alive through thoughts and prayers.
“I think about the things that we did together,” explains Inez Thomas. “Things I did with him as a mother, his dad did with him as a father. He is never forgotten.”
Family members routinely visit his memorial site and remember him as a young man full of life, keeping Thomas’ memory alive through perpetual love – 20 years later.