crimeside

Victims’ families, residents protested Dahmer walking tour back in 2012

Photo: Nicholas Vollann leads the first tour group through Jeffrey Dahmer’s old neighborhood. (Rick Wood, jsonline.com).

 A walking tour of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s old haunts was set to begin back in March of 2012. The tour took place in Dahmer’s old neighborhood, Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point district.

The Dahmer tour was met with much opposition. Relatives of Dahmer’s victims opposed the tour along with local residents. Local politicians tried to put a stop to the tour but were unsuccessful. Organized by BAM Marketing of Wisconsin, the tour group’s rights were protected under freedom of speech and the fact that the tour group would be visiting public places.

Walker’s Point Associates President Victor Ray was urged by one of Dahmer’s victims’ mothers to try to get the tour’s organizers to cancel it. Ray met with the tour’s organizers to try to dissuade them from proceeding with the tour, but was unsuccessful.

BAM spokeswoman Amanda Morden insisted the tour’s purpose was to explore Dahmer’s crimes as part of history, in the same way as documentaries and books about the case. “Whether we like it or not, it’s part of our city’s history. It’s part of our nation’s history,” Morden said.

VISIT Milwaukee tourism group refused to promote the tour. Spokeswoman Jeannine Sherman said the group did not want to bring attention to a person who hurt the community as much as Dahmer did.

Ray also felt that, although the case was 20 years old, the timing was inappropriate since many of Dahmer’s victims’ families are still alive and residing in the area. Morden felt that enough time passed to allow for an objective discussion of Dahmer’s crimes.

Photos: Protesters gather to stop the tour. (Above: foxnews.com/Fox 6 Milwaukee; Below: denverpost.com)

Other groups have organized tours based on famous cases such as The Boston Strangler, The Manson Family in California and Jack the Ripper in London.

Reportedly, six people bought tickets and showed up for the first Dahmer tour along with reporters and protesters.

The protest was nonviolent and included citizens as well as family members of the victims. One of the protesters was Janie Hagen, the sister of Richard Guerrero, who was 21-years-old at the time he crossed paths with Dahmer and was never seen again. Hagen wore a button with her brother’s picture on it and said she came out to “speak for my brother.”

“This sort of thing. I’ve dealt with it before,” Hagen said, referring to various types of Dahmer merchandise produced over the years, from comics to trading cards, to t-shirts. “We’ve never seen a red cent … If they are going to make a buck, it’s blood money.”

The tour, led by Nicholas Vollmann, consisted  of mostly stops at empty lots along S. 2nd St.. The tour was advertised as 90 minutes long, but turned out to be about an hour long.

Vollmann told the group that, “We’re here today to learn from history. Unfortunately, we can’t bury our heads in the sand.”

The historical narrative of the tour consisted of facts about Dahmer’s life, dating back to his mutilation of dead animals as a child and adolescent. The tour also included information about his victims and his dismemberment of them, but left out any details about cannibalism.

The protesters chanted, “Stop the tour,” but to no avail as Vollmann ignored them and the group continued on.

“To be honest,” Hagen said, “nobody really wants to know the truth. The only people who know the truth are the victims and Dahmer, and they’re all dead.”

From what I could find,  there is a Dahmer tour offered by a group called Hangman’s Tours, advertised as “Milwaukees quirkiest historic tours. Ghosts, cannibals and hookers, oh my.” A customer left a review of the Dahmer tour on the tour group’s Facebook page as recent as July 2016.

References:

“Walking tour of Jeffrey Dahmer’s neighborhood spurs controversy,” Crimesider Staff, CBS News, March 2, 2012, cbs.com

“Jeffrey Dahmer walking tour in Milwaukee infuriates victims’ families,” Associated Press, March 2, 2012, nydailynews.com

“Dahmer tour attracts protesters but few customers,” Mark Johnson, March 3, 2012, Journal Sentinel