‘Dahmer: An American Cannibal’ gives Netflix shows how the prolific serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer killed about 17 men and boys between the years 1978 to 1991. Towards the end of his reign of terror, Jeffrey’s murders reportedly became even more grotesque when he allegedly resorted to cannibalism. Furthermore, the serial killer was obsessed with building a macabre shrine and would often collect skulls, heads, and other body parts from his victims, which he kept in his apartment. In order to carry out such gruesome acts of murder, Jeffrey Dahmer used various instruments, tools and utensils, which were seized after his arrest and purchased by Joseph Zilber. If you’re curious as to what happened to Jeffrey’s belongings and if Joseph is still alive, we’ve got you the answer!
Who was Joseph Zilber?
Joseph Zilber was a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was born to Russian immigrant parents in 1917 and grew up on the north side of the city. In fact, at the time of Jeffrey Dahmer’s arrest, he was a real estate magnate and the leader of the Milwaukee Civic Pride Fund. Incidentally, Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer last struck on July 19, 1991, when he took Joseph Arthur Bradehoft to his apartment and murdered him in cold blood. However, desperate to find more victims, Jeffrey went on the hunt and found Tracy Edwards and her two friends. He even managed to get Tracy back to her apartment, but the victim escaped and alerted the authorities, leading to Jeffrey’s arrest.
Like the rest of Milwaukee, Joseph Zilber was horrified when the police made concrete evidence of Jeffrey’s crime public. However, he was determined not to let fear prevail and tried his best to spread a positive message in his community. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Dahmer was found guilty of 16 counts of first-degree murder (15 in Wisconsin and 1 in Ohio), which earned him a total of sixteen life sentences, plus a few additional years on other charges in 1992.
Why did Joseph Zilber destroy Jeffrey Dahmer’s belongings?
In November 1994, Jeffrey was beaten to death by fellow prisoner Christopher Scarver while serving time at Columbia Correctional Institution. After his death, the families of eleven of Jeffrey’s victims filed a petition with the court, asking the law to hand over the victim’s belongings to them. If their petition was successful, the families hoped to auction off these items and accept the money as compensation for their loss. In fact, the court agreed to the petition and handed over a refrigerator, a drill, knives, saw blades and gargoyle figurines, among other goods.
However, when Joseph Zilber heard of such a procedure, he was horrified, as he did not want Jeffrey to gain publicity through the auction. Also, he wanted the city of Milwaukee to leave such a horrible history in the past, and he didn’t want the objects to be given any importance. Thus, he raised about $407,225, which he used to buy all of Jeffrey’s belongings from the victim’s families before putting the items in a garbage truck and permanently destroying them. Meanwhile, the sale benefited each of the eleven families as they received about $32,500 before attorney fees.
Is Joseph Zilber alive or dead?
Joseph Zilber is primarily known as a business tycoon who devoted his life to building a real estate empire. In fact, he contributed enormously to the development of Milwaukee and even took on significant real estate development projects. However, unbeknownst to many, Joseph was also an incredible philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to charity and was involved in improving communities both in Milwaukee and other American cities. Towards the end of his life, Joseph resided primarily in Hawaii and struggled with severe bouts of pneumonia for over a year. Eventually, on March 19, 2010, Joseph was being treated at Zilber Hospice in Wauwatosa, Hawaii when he passed away at age 92.
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