Joyce Dahmer is the mother of Jeffrey Dahmer. She passed away in 2000 from breast cancer.
When the 10-part series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, hit Netflix on September 21, 2022, it immediately became one of the most-watched original series on the streamer. It told the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, here played by Evan Peters, from early on until his 13-year killing spree, arrest, conviction, and ultimate death while in prison. One person the series didn’t touch much on was his mother, Joyce Dahmer.
JOYCE DAHMER, JEFFREY’S MOTHER, IS FROM COLUMBUS WISCONSIN
Joyce Dahmer, also known as Joyce Flint and went by “Rocky,” was born on February 7, 1936, in Columbus, Wisconsin. She received a degree in counseling, which she used extensively in her later years. According to the 1993 biography written by Brian Masters, The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer, Joyce married Lionel on August 22, 1959. Jeffrey was born on May 21, 1960.
From early on, after having Jeffrey, Joyce began to have issues. She suffered from depression and was known to be a hypochondriac. During her pregnancy with Jeffrey, Joyce also suffered from nausea and muscle stiffness. For that, she received injections of Phenobarbital and morphine. In later years, Lionel wondered if her taking that medication during the pregnancy had any effect on Jeffrey’s behavior issues.
SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS
There are differing opinions on how the parents treated Jeffrey after he was born. One side said they doted on him, while the other side claims he was deprived of attention as a baby. One thing that was agreed upon was that Joyce Dahmer was a needy individual who craved attention and pity. She soon became argumentative with both Lionel and their neighbors.
Things slowly got worse for Joyce Dahmer. After her second child, David, was born in December 1966, Joyce’s mental status took a bad turn. According to Lionel in his book, A Father’s Story, he claims Joyce was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis.
But life for the Dahmers, especially for Lionel and Joyce, got steadily worse. The family moved (for the third time in two years) to Bath Township, Summit County, Ohio in 1968, where they attempted to settle in. After this, Joyce began to retreat from family life.
JOYCE DAHMER TURNED TO MEDICATION
More often than not, Joyce Dahmer was found in bed. She had no desire to be with her family, constantly bickering with Lionel. Joyce found comfort in increasing her daily consumption of Equanil, sleeping pills, and laxatives.
It was a recipe that continued for a long time. It was also a recipe that pushed Joyce Dahmer into the arms of another man. By 1978, things were at a breaking point for Lionel and Joyce.
In the meantime, Joyce Dahmer’s son, Jeffrey, was discovering some things about himself. He first realized he was gay when he reached puberty. By the time he was a freshman in high school, he was drinking heavily.
It was a roller coaster for Jeffrey during his high school years. Fighting his urges and his drinking, his grades dropped dramatically. He was also dealing with parents who constantly fought.
The year before Jeffrey graduated high school, Lionel and Joyce Dahmer attempted to save their marriage by going to counseling. It didn’t help and they constantly continued to fight. Joyce ended up having a relationship with another man. Two months after Jeffrey graduated in 1978, Joyce took David with her and moved in with relatives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The fighting between Lionel and Joyce Dahmer continued as the battle ensued over custody and support. Both Lionel and Joyce claimed, “gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty” against the other. Joyce finally won out, gaining full custody of David, and also getting alimony from Lionel.
JOYCE DAHMER’S SON BEGAN HIS REIGN OF TERROR IN 1978
Not long after Lionel and Joyce split and divorced, Jeffrey Dahmer began his reign of terror. He took his first victim on June 18, 1978, and for 13 years after, took victim after victim, 17 in total.
We will skip over the gruesome details of Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrific deeds, but on July 22, 1991, police finally caught up to him. After their sickening discoveries in Dahmer’s apartment, he was arrested and finally brought to trial.
Joyce Dahmer continued to struggle with her mental illness, especially after Jeffrey’s crimes became known. According to the United Press International, Joyce attempted suicide in 1994. Apparently, Joyce took some medication, turned on her gas stove, and left its door open.
When Joyce was found, she was face down in her kitchen. She had written out a will and suicide note, leaving all of her belongings to her son, David. But Joyce didn’t die; she was rushed to the hospital where she made a full recovery.
SHE SPOKE WITH JEFFREY CONSISTENTLY WHILE HE WAS IN PRISON
Even through all of her own mental issues, Joyce Dahmer kept in touch with her son Jeffrey once he was in prison. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she spoke with him by phone at least once a week. “I said to him, I asked him, `Do you still have these urges?'” she explained. “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.’”
But Joyce Dahmer also added, “When I think of what Jeff did, I stop breathing.” When Jeffrey Dahmer was killed in prison in 1994 by inmate Christopher Scarver, Joyce finally broke. “Now is everybody happy?” she screamed when she heard her son had been killed in prison. “Now that he’s bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?”
His death became one more fight between her and Lionel. At the time of his death, Jeffrey Dahmer’s body was cremated, but his brain was preserved in formaldehyde. Joyce wanted it studied to see if there were any biological factors that sent Jeffrey down his killing path. But Lionel wanted his brain cremated with the rest of his body because that is what Jeffrey requested.
It was one last fight that went to court. In 1995, a judge ruled that Dahmer’s brain would be cremated.
JOYCE DAHMER DIED IN 2000
By this time, Joyce had relocated to Fresno, California. There, she founded The Living Room, which was an HIV community center. She also worked at the Central Valley AIDS Center as a case manager up until 2000, when she sadly died from breast cancer.