Detectives handed teen back to cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer after brief escape

Darcy Rafter June 1, 2022
Detectives handed teen back to cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer after brief escape
Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images



Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. Starting in 1978, Dahmer killed 17 young men, until he was finally caught in 1991. Although, in one instance detectives unknowingly handed one of Dahmer’s victims straight back to the cannibal killer…

One of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims could have been saved when two cousins called the cops after he escaped in May 1991. Sadly, police missed a glaring opportunity to arrest Dahmer, read on to discover more about the case.

Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images

Detectives handed teen back to cannibal killer Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer’s first victim was Anthony Hughes, who he met at a Milwaukee gay bar, before bringing him back to his house and strangling him to death, according to the Associated Press.

Not long after, Dahmer persuaded 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone to come back to his apartment on 27th May 1997. Konerak was the younger brother of a boy Dahmer had assaulted back in 1988.

Dahmer injected hydrochloric acid into Sinthasomphone’s head, but he still managed to escape when Dahmer left to buy beers. Sinthasomphone flagged down two women on the street, who alerted the police. However, when Dahmer returned he tried to convince them they were friends and he was just drunk.

Detectives had a missed opportunity

Officers briefly inspected Dahmer’s flat before handing the 14-year-old back to him. Tapes of the police call reportedly reveal an officer saying: “The intoxicated Asian naked male [laughter in background] was returned to his sober boyfriend.” After taking Sinthasomphone back to his apartment again, Dahmer then killed the boy and put his head in a freezer.

As per The Mirror, Dahmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was conv­icted on 16 counts of murder, dating back to 1978, and was sentenced to 16 life sentences. In 1994, at 34 years old, he was killed by Christopher Scarver who picked up a barbell in the jail gym and beat Dahmer and another prisoner to death.

Photo by Steve Kagan/Getty Images

Helpers reflect on Konerak’s brief escape

The women who Konerak had approached were Nicole Childress, 17 at the time, and Sandra Smith, then 18. Nicole often reflects on the missed opportunity as she told The Mirror: “If only the police had listened to me. I did what you’re supposed to do – help someone when they’re in trouble. He had managed to escape. I was angry with the police…I go over what happened and say ‘what would I have done differently?’”

Photo by © Ralf-Finn Hestoft/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.