As Netflix’s “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” remains at the top of the streaming giant’s most-watched list, viewers are wondering what happened to many of the people behind the characters in the dramatized series about the notorious serial killer’s life.
Several of Dahmer’s family members are included in the series, and while Dahmer’s father Lionel wrote a book about his experience being the father of the murderer and appeared in a documentary about his son in 2020, his brother David changed his name and disappeared from public life.
Dahmer’s mother Joyce, who had a master’s degree in counseling, has largely remained out of the spotlight since his death in 1994 and a fight with his father over what to do with their son’s remains in 1995. Here’s what we know about Joyce Dahmer.
Joyce Flint married Lionel Dahmer in 1959
Joyce, born Annette Joyce Flint and also known as “Rocky,” married Lionel Herbert Dahmer on Aug. 22, 1959, according to “The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer,” a 1993 biography written by Brian Masters. She quickly became pregnant after their marriage, and suffered from nausea and muscle stiffness during her pregnancy, according to the biography.
Lionel also documented his wife’s symptoms in his memoir, “A Father’s Story.” Lionel said she received injections of Phenobarbital and morphine for muscle tightness, and he speculated if the shots had any effect on Dahmer’s behavioral issues.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that psychiatrists told Joyce she was not responsible for what her son became, but that she “always wondered.”
Joyce gave birth to Jeffrey on May 21, 1960, and Masters wrote in his book that “Lionel and Joyce were entranced by him.” Following the birth of their second child, David, Lionel wrote in “A Father’s Story” that Joyce was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.
The Dahmers divorced in 1978, each charging the other with “gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty.” After a custody battle, Joyce was given custody of David and Jeffrey, almost 18, stayed with Lionel and his step mom Shari as he was close to graduating high school.
Joyce kept in touch with Jeffrey in prison
Dahmer was convicted in 1992 of murdering 15 boys and men between 1978 and 1991, and he later admitted to killing two other people. “When I think of what Jeff did, I stop breathing,” she told columnist Bill Janz at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in August 1995.
Joyce was speaking with her son about once a week on the phone while he was imprisoned, according to the Journal Sentinel.
“I said to him, I asked him, ‘Do you still have these urges?'” she told the Journal Sentinel. “He said, ‘Yes, Mom, I’m so glad I’m locked up. I’d be afraid what I’d do if I weren’t locked up.'”
Joyce told the Journal Sentinel she planned to move in with her younger son, David, who had changed his name and moved to another city following his brother’s arrest. But it didn’t work out and she moved to Fresno, California, instead, according to the Journal Sentinel.
Joyce called her son a ‘victim of a compulsion’
During a 1993 interview with Hard Copy, Joyce called her son a “victim of a compulsion, an obsession.”
Joyce said she was blamed for what her son became, but said she doesn’t take responsibility. “Intellectually I know that I had done a good job as a parent. I knew this had to come from something outside of Jeff … we still do blame mothers,” she said.
She thought her son could benefit from therapy and that society would benefit from studying Jeffrey’s case. “He’s not a monster. He’s a human being. And I think he deserves some help,” she said.
She said she felt “guilt” and “torment” from what she did. “I’ll be tormented in agony for eternity, just like they are,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Janz said Joyce told him during a phone call, referring to the living relatives of his son’s victims.
“I want something useful to come out of this nightmare,” she said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I haven’t seen one speck of light with all the horror that happened to everyone. It’s the last and only thing I can do for Jeff.”
Joyce and Lionel fought over Jeffrey’s brain after his death
Another inmate, Christopher Scarver, attacked and killed Jeffrey in a Wisconsin prison in 1994, sparking a battle between Lionel and Joyce over what to do with his remains. Dahmer’s body was cremated at the time of his death, but his brain was preserved in formaldehyde.
Joyce told the Journal Sentinel in 1995 she wanted medical professionals to examine his brain to see if any biological factors had played a role in his killings, but Lionel wanted his brain to be cremated because that is what Dahmer requested, according to the Los Angeles Times .
A judge ruled in 1995 that Dahmer’s brain would be cremated, the Times reported.
Joyce died in 2000
Joyce continued living in Fresno and founded “The Living Room,” an HIV community center, in Fresno in 1996, according to Reuters. She worked as a case manager for the Central Valley AIDS Center until her death in 2000, when she died of breast cancer.
“She was enthusiastic, and she was compassionate, and she turned her own tragedy into being able to have a great deal of empathy for people with HIV,” the Times quoted Julio Mastro, executive director of the Living Room, as telling the Journal Sentinel .
This article was originally published on TODAY.com