How serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was finally caught despite his 'high IQ'

Lottie O'Neill September 21, 2022
How serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was finally caught despite his 'high IQ'
Photo by Curt Borgwardt/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images


Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s chilling crimes have gone down in history as one of the most notorious real-life horror stories – but how did he get caught?


Jeffrey Dahmer – who reportedly had a ‘gifted’ IQ, was finally snatched by cops after his final victim had a miraculous escape.

Despite years of heinous killings and torture, the cannibal was eventually snared and ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison almost 30 years ago.

However, the disturbing path of crime could have been stopped months before Jeffrey Dahmer was caught by cops after a previous victim managed a brief escape. But a tragic tale of events led to cops handing over an innocent teen victim into his cruel hands.

So, how was the cannibal killer finally caught – and why was he snared when Jeffrey Dahmer had a ‘gifted’ IQ?

Dahmer’s horrific killing spree

Photo by Curt Borgwardt/Sygma via Getty Images

The Wisconsin native, born in 1960, killed his first victim in 1978, writes Britannica. But the second victim didn’t occur for another nine years, which then sparked his murderous crime spree. Over the following five years, 15 boys and young men died at the hands of Dahmer.

In February 1992, the killer was convicted and sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms – as the state had abolished the death penalty. Eventually, he admitted to 17 murders in total.

However, Dahmer only ended up behind bars for two years. Another inmate, Christopher Scarver, beat him to death in Wisconsin prison in 1994. Scarver, who also killed a second fellow inmate, Jesse Anderson, was handed two further life sentences for his crimes in jail.

Jeffrey Dahmer was caught as final victim escaped with life intact

Screenshot from Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story courtesy of Netflix

Dahmer’s final victim – who fortunately was not killed – managed to escape by hitting the murderer over the head before he was attacked. Tracy Edwards was then seen running down the street in handcuffs by police.

He led cops back to Dahmer’s apartment, who almost didn’t believe his story on how he was held against his will and had his life threatened. When police visited Dahmer’s apartment, they heard the killer’s calm explanation of the situation being a ‘misunderstanding’.

However, it was a few misplaced Polaroid photos of human remains which set off alarm bells, writes History.

Jeffrey Dahmer was finally caught and arrested.

House of horrors

Screenshot from Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story courtesy of Netflix

When the home was searched, more terrifying Polaroid pictures were found in various photo albums. Human remains were discovered in the refrigerator and freezer and scattered about the property. There was also evidence to suggest that Dahmer was a cannibal.

Neighbors had told police they noticed a bad smell coming from Dahmer’s apartment and thought it was expired meat.

A 14-year-old boy managed to escape two months earlier after being found naked and injured. But cops took him back to the killer, believing the made-up story. At the time they claimed nothing seemed ‘suspicious’ about the situation. The two officers were later fired.

When Dahmer was eventually brought to face justice, the jury rejected the insanity defense.

Although managing to survive one attempt against his life in July 1994, he was killed by another inmate in a second attempt a mere few months later.

Was Jeffrey Dahmer a genius – what was his IQ?

Screenshot from DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story | Official Trailer (Trailer 1) Netflix Youtube Channel

IQ-Test reports Dahmer had an IQ of 145. This is classified as the 98th percentile. He was allegedly as smart as Ted Bundy – another serial killer in the history books.

The level of IQ needed to be considered a ‘genius’ is disputed, though. Business Insider claims it’s 160 and above, whereas VeryWellMind reports anyone above 130 is ‘moderately gifted’.

Whereas ChronicleLive reports 140 and above can be recorded as “very superior intelligence”, ie a genius or ‘almost’ genius level.

It seems Dahmer’s reported IQ puts him in the ‘gifted’ range, regardless of the argument whether he was a genius or not. Other serial killers who were considered ‘gifted’ include Rodney Alcala and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Watch Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix now.

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Lottie is the Head of Audience for Entertainment and Gaming, working with the teams on HITC, Reality Titbit, The Focus and Freshered. She is passionate about news being accessible to everyone, and focuses on bringing audiences quality content that they enjoy. She loves the art of storytelling, whether that be news, movies or heavy hardback fiction.