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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Dahmer Tours Proceed Despite Uproar

MILWAUKEE (CN) - Families of victims of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer objected to ads from Groupon offering tours that began over the weekend where "guides march guests through the grisly corridors of Jeffrey Dahmer's life and killing spree."

Groupon pulled its ads after families protested, stating: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this deal."

The link to the Groupon deal - 2 tickets for $25 (regularly priced at $30 each) - stated "Sold Out" after about 10 purchases were made.

But BAM Marketing, the tourist company backing the event, continued with the tours despite the backlash.

BAM was asked on Groupon's online discussion forum: "What the hell are you thinking??? THIS IS DISGUSTING! As a Milwaukee area resident I am appalled!!!"

BAM responded: "Yes, this is incredibly sensitive subject matter suited for those with a mature and open mind who would like to understand this portion of history. This is, however, an accurate walking tour for those in this city and the myriad of out of town visitors that have inquired. We are providing information through this tour. It is not made to sensationalize or condone the monstrous acts that took place, but rather, educate."

BAM kicked off its tours on Saturday. It claimed it had nearly sold out its 20-person capacity for the day's tours, though just seven appeared for the 1 p.m. "show," plus a notecard-wielding tour guide.

The guide told the 1 p.m. group, "We're here today to learn from history. Unfortunately, we can't bury our heads in the sand."

Groupon's ad stated: "The guides, who are neither insensitive to the victims' families nor approbating of Dahmer's monstrous acts, narrate thoroughly researched information about the crimes and their historical impact."

Twelve protesters showed up shortly after the tour began, shouting, "Stop the Tour!"

One held a sign stating: "BAM Media Heartless."

The most disruptive moment came when a woman jumped from a honking Cadillac Escalade with a sign that stated: "Our city will be shamed again."

Protesters called the tour "criminal" and "just an attempt to make money."

The tour, purporting to "grant a spine-chilling glimpse into the life of Jeffrey Dahmer from within his hunting grounds," mostly offered looks at empty lots or at businesses different from the gay bars that Dahmer frequented.

The first stop was the former Club 219 (open from 1981-2005). Dahmer said he met four of his 17 victims there.

Steven Tourmi was killed after leaving Club 219 in 1987. Dahmer said he did not remember killing his second victim in a hotel room. When he woke up the next morning, Dahmer bought a suitcase and put the corpse in it. He went to his grandmother's basement where he had sex with the corpse, masturbated on it, and sliced the flesh off of it. He then proceeded to dismember the remains, put them into plastic bags, and throw them away. The remains were never found.

Jamie Doxtator, 14, was killed in 1988 after he and Dahmer left the club and went to Dahmer's grandmother's house. Dahmer was to pay him to pose in nude photos. The two had sex and Dahmer dropped sleeping pills in the boy's drink. He strangled the boy in his sleep, dismembered the corpse with a knife, broke the bones with a sledgehammer, and threw the remains in the trash.

Two months later, Richard Guerrero, his fourth victim, died after being drugged and strangled at Dahmer's grandmother's house after the two left Club 219. Dahmer had sex with the corpse, dismembered the body and threw it away. It took authorities 3 years after he was reported missing to learn what happened to him.

Guerrero's sister was one of Saturday's protesters. She carried a sign: "R.I.P. Richard Guerrero."

She told reporters: "This whole thing opens up a lot of old wounds, a lot of painful memories. It's that same hurt all over again."

Dahmer's seventh victim, Ricky Lee Beeks, was taken home from Club 219. He was drugged, murdered and dismembered. Dahmer kept his skull and painted it.

Dahmer's twelfth victim, Tony Hughes, also found his demise at Club 219. At the club, Hughes, who was deaf and mute, was passed a note from Dahmer. They went back to Dahmer's apartment for drinks and pornography. Hughes was murdered and dismembered.

Next stop for the tourgoers was the Phoenix bar (open from 1979-1993), now a Tapas restaurant. Here, Dahmer met his seventh victim, Edward Smith. The two took a taxi back to Dahmer's apartment. No traces of Smith's body have been found.

The tour's final resting place was LaCage NiteClub - known in Dahmer's days as La Cage Aux Folles. Originally opened in 1984, the club is still one of the most popular gay dance clubs in Milwaukee. Here Dahmer met his fifth victim, Anthony Sears. The two went to his grandmother's house and Sears was never seen again. His skull, scalp and penis were found in Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment when he was arrested more than 2 years later, in 1991.

Dahmer's 13-year killing spree ended with a sentence of 15 consecutive life terms, a total of 957 years in prison. He was beaten to death by two inmates after serving 3 years in prison.

BAM Marketing billed the tour as a 90-minute, 1-mile walk, but the tour barely lasted an hour. At the end, the "sensitive" tour guide said the tours would continue, as the protesters would eventually give up.

The tours originally were scheduled for Saturdays, at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. As of Sunday evening, however, the ticket link on the tour's website was not working. The 10 p.m. tours were removed from the schedule and the opening day 10 p.m. tour was canceled "due to the projected snowfall." No measurable snow fell.

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