Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, Joyce Flint Dahmer, was deeply affected by the discovery of her son’s crimes. Despite the gruesome nature of Dahmer’s infamous crimes, Joyce said her love for him never waned: “I still love my son. I’ve never stopped loving my son. He was a wonderful child. He has always been loved.”
Joyce attempted suicide several months before Dahmer’s death in prison. “It’s been a lonely life, especially today. Please cremate me… I love my sons, Jeff and David,” Joyce’s suicide note read.
Flint didn’t live long after the suicide attempt; she spent the final few years of her life giving back to the society her son had cruelly robbed.
Joyce died of breast cancer after moving to Fresno, California
Joyce kept in touch with Jeffrey after his conviction. She told People that Dahmer didn’t care for his safety in prison. “I always asked if he was safe. He’d say, ‘It doesn’t matter, Mom. I don’t care if something happens to me.’”
Flint suffered from depression and needed medication to sleep. When the mental toll became too heavy, Joyce attempted suicide. “I wake up every morning hardly knowing I’m Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother for a split second, and then it all pours in,” Joyce told Deseret News.
In 1994, Joyce said she felt compelled to reach out to the relatives of murderers who might have harbored similar feelings. She said she planned to write a book about raising Dahmer, but no publisher accepted her pitch.
After Jeffrey’s death, Joyce petitioned the court to allow her to donate his brain to scientific research. Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey’s dad, objected. The court sided with Lionel, upholding Jeffrey’s wish that his remains be cremated.
In the 80s, Joyce worked as a manager at a retirement home. In 1991, she moved to Fresno, California, to work for the Central Valley AIDS Team. Joyce was a hypochondriac – a person excessively worried about having a serious illness – so her career change appeared pretty surprising.
At the time, AIDS was a relatively unknown disease, the type to scare away any hypochondriac. However, Joyce executed her role without fear or discrimination.
Joyce Dahmer died due to breast cancer on 27th November 2000. After Joyce’s passing, her friends and colleagues told The Los Angeles Times that they preferred to remember her as a selfless individual who worked with the less fortunate. Julio Mastro, the executive director of an HIV community center, said:
“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.”
Joyce said she wasn’t to blame for Jeffrey’s crimes
Lionel painted Joyce as a bad mother in his book A Father’s Story. Joyce had a difficult pregnancy with Jeffrey, forcing doctors to prescribe several drugs. Lionel told Larry King:
“She would spasm. Her jaw would go sideways. And we would walk her around and around. My mother and father would do the same. … Nothing seemed to help until we would have to call the doctor, administer barbiturates….”
Lionel wrote that Joyce grew dependent on the medication and refused to go near Jeffrey after his birth as she feared infecting him. Jeffrey’s father said Joyce’s dependence on prescription drugs worsened after their second child’s birth.
Joyce claimed she needed the medication to manage her pain and anxiety. Her alleged drug use affected her relationship with Lionel, sparking verbal altercations that Jeffrey sometimes witnessed. Lionel and Joyce divorced when Jeffrey was 18. Several months later, Dahmer committed his first murder.
Joyce told Hard Copy that she did a good job raising Jeffrey: “I knew this had to come from something outside of Jeff. I think there’s a lot to be learned, and one of the things that our society does have to be aware of is that we still do have prejudice. We have a stereotype, and we still blame mothers.”
Flint said Jeffrey admitted that an insatiable obsession fueled his murderous streak: “Jeff was a victim of a compulsion, an obsession. When I went to visit him, I asked him, what it had been like during all these years, and he said, ‘I was so scared. I was scared every minute, and I tried to stop. And I couldn’t.’”
Jeffrey absolved his parents of responsibility, saying he had very loving parents and blaming them ‘was completely off the mark.’ Nevertheless, Jeffrey’s crimes weighed heavily on Joyce.
Gerald Boyle, Jeffrey’s defense attorney, said: “It was clear she bore no responsibility. She had to live with the idea that she was the mother of a monster, and it drove her crazy.”