Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes carried on for so long partly because, on the outside, he looked like an ordinary man living a normal life. The bespectacled Dahmer survived one close call – when neighbors called 911 after one of his victims, Konerak Sinthasomphone, escaped from his apartment – but largely avoided attracting negative attention. 

Dahmer accrued a couple of arrests – one for disturbing the peace by dropping his pants in public and another for lewd and lascivious behavior – but they didn’t raise suspicion about his murderous instincts. The worst the convictions perhaps did was single him out as a pervert. 

Jeffrey Dahmer kept up the ruse of a pedestrian life by acquiring employment, which painted him as an upstanding citizen. 

Jeff Dahmer was discharged from the army due to a drinking problem

After dropping out of college, Jeff Dahmer enlisted in the army at his father’s urging. Dahmer trained as a medical specialist and was assigned to an infantry division in Baumholder, West Germany. 

Dahmer drank excessively during his time in the military, but reports differ as to the effects of his drinking. David Rodriguez, one of Jeff’s army buddies, told The Los Angeles Times that Dahmer became reclusive and silent when drunk:

“He’d be shut out from the rest of the world. He’d drink until he passed out, then wake up and start again. He didn’t even go out for chow.”

Jeffrey’s bunkmate Billy J. Capshaw gave a different account, saying Dahmer turned violent with a drink in his system. Capshaw told The New York Times:

“When he’d drink, he’d get real violent with me. You could tell in his face that he wasn’t joking. It was for real. That’s why it bothered me. It was a whole different side. His face was blank. It was kind of like he was cross-eyed-like. An expression like he just wasn’t there. I’ve never seen it on anyone else’s face.”

Regardless of Jeffrey’s conduct, the military saw his drinking as an impediment to his military service. However, his superiors didn’t believe his problems would hamper civilian life. After a debriefing at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Dahmer flew to Miami Beach, Florida.

Jeffrey chose Florida because of the warm weather. He found employment at a sandwich shop and rented a motel room. Dahmer spent most of his salary on alcohol, neglecting motel payments. Therefore, the owners evicted him for non-payment. Dahmer spent nights on the beach while working at the sandwich shop. 

After several weeks, he returned to his father’s residence in Ohio. 

Dahmer later worked as a phlebotomist and a mixer at a chocolate factory

After failing to wean Dahmer off the alcohol, Dahmer’s father sent him to West Allis, Wisconsin, to live with his grandmother. Jeffrey’s father hoped that Dahmer’s grandma would have a positive effect on him. 

Dahmer continued drinking and smoking but also made positive changes in his life. In early 1982, Dahmer secured a job as a phlebotomist at the Milwaukee Blood Plasma Center. A phlebotomist takes blood samples from patients for examination. Dahmer was laid off after ten months. 

For over two years, Dahmer lived off his grandmother. In January 1985, Dahmer was employed as a mixer at the Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate factory, where he worked the graveyard shift from Sunday to Friday and earned $8.75 an hour. 

In 1989, Dahmer was convicted of fondling a boy he’d lured with the promise of money if the boy posed for photos. He was handed a suspended five-year sentence and served 10 months in a work-release program that allowed him to keep his job at the factory. 

On 14th July 1990, he was fired for chronic absenteeism. By then, he’d left his grandmother’s residence; therefore, he had nobody to pressure him into finding another job. He probably couldn’t have incorporated employment as killing and dismembering his victims had become something of a full-time endeavor.