Too Soon? Dahmer Tours Visits Sites Where Killer Met His Victims

I was in grade school in the Milwaukee area when the grisly news and details of Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrible crimes came to light. We were all sickened. Living in a city associated with one of the most barbaric serial killers of all time wasn’t anything to brag about, and the city mourned for the citizens who were victims. Unsurprising, then, that many Milwaukeeans aren’t too happy with a company called “Dahmer Tours” which is offering visits to places connected with those events for $30 a pop.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel poses the question of whether, 18 years after Dahmer was killed in prison, there will ever be a time when it’s okay to have a guided tour of the places he met his victims.

Tour-goers will take a 90-minute walk, stopping at long-closed gay bars where Dahmer picked up men, then later brought them home and killed and dismembered them. Tours start this weekend. Outright insensitive to the families of his 17 victims, or just another form of ghoulish entertainment for morbid curiosity-seekers? Based on friends and family’s reactions I’ve been reading, it’s coming off as totally yucky.

Groupon originally offered a discount on the tours, but after a lot of backlash, the deal was dropped.

“I think it’s in very poor taste. There’s a lot of families of the victims, and their wounds are still healing,” said Ald. James Witkowiak, who represents that area of town.

The tour company says they’ll mount a plaque or memorial to honor the victims — which hasn’t been done in Milwaukee — in an attempt to appease opponents of the tour.

“This is an informational and historical tour. We don’t want sensationalism. We don’t want the blood and guts show,” said Amanda Morden, who is promoting Dahmer Tours through her firm, Bam Marketing and Media.

Memories of visiting relatives in other states and meeting their friends who would say, “You’re from Milwaukee? Oh, like Jeffrey Dahmer!” aren’t fond ones. So thanks for bringing that all back, Dahmer Tours.

Dahmer Tour — too soon or just too pricey? [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

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  1. Coffee says:

    On the one hand, I can see why this could be construed as horribly offensive by some. On the other, I don’t see how this is much different than taking a tour to learn about Jack The Ripper in London on Ivarkov the Genital Puncher in Moscow. History is history – some of is macabre, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t interest people.

    • chloe says:

      I have no idea what the deal is with the Russian dude.

      But are you sure – absolutely sure – that you don’t see the difference between cashing in on the death of people that have been dead since before the turn of the century and those who still have living and directly related family and friends?

      Displaying ancient Egyptian mummies – kinda weird when you think about it, but there’s not a lot of direct emotional trauma involved. Digging up your mom-mom just to see what kind of jewelry people thought was appropriate in 1998 . . . we’ve got a different story going on.

  2. chrisAPu says:

    The people that are complaining about it are just helping to further promote the company. Free advertising rules.

  3. humphrmi says:

    Jack the Ripper tours are quite popular in London. The big difference is time. All of Jack’s victim’s families are dead. So IMHO it boils down to, *when*, not *if* it’s appropriate.

  4. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    “Living in a city associated with one of the most barbaric serial killers of all time wasn’t anything to brag about”

    When I think of Milwaukee, I think of Laverne and Shirley!

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      And Wayne and Garth going to the Alice Cooper concert.

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Living in a city associated with one of the most barbaric sitcoms of all time wasn’t anything to brag about either.

    • bohemond says:

      When I think of my home town, I think of the birthplace of the American labor movement.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      I don’t really think of anything. Just another place.

      “I’m from NYC.” “oh like David Berkowitz”

      There are plenty of places where horrible things happened, most people don’t think of those things when you mention the place.

  5. Dallas_shopper says:

    We had a tasteless “JFK Tour” of notable “assassination-related” sites around Dallas. The tour was in a car very similar to the car JFK was assassinated in, and when it went down Elm Street through Dealey Plaza it stopped at the spot where JFK was shot and played gunfire over the audio system, then sped off under the triple underpass.

    Really, no shit. We really truly had this tour in Dallas. Emphasis on “had”.

  6. dks64 says:

    $30? No way.

  7. gman863 says:

    I’m having flashbacks of the satire song Friends in Crawl Spaces sung by Pinkerd & Bowden (to the tune of Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places)

    I’ve got friends in crawl spaces
    I’m the queer that made Milwaukee famous…

  8. josephbloseph says:

    I thought the cat picture was an odd choice for this article. Incidentally, I don’t see an inherent issue with the idea of a tour like this. Granted there are going to be people sensitive about thier hometown, or their family, but I don’t really see a distinction between having a guided tour and watching a 1 hour special on the A&E Bio channel. I suppose there could be some trouble if the tours aren’t carried out in a respectful manner, but I’m only so concerned.

    • evilrobot says:

      I would take a tour offered by a cat. When they stick out their tongue, it let’s you know they are thinking.

      That aside, a walking tour of closed bars and his apartment has been torn down – what’s the point?

    • chloe says:

      In what conceivable way could a tour based on Dahmer, cannibalism, and pick-up joints not be dignified and fully respectful of the suffering of the victims and their still-living family? This is clearly the Masterpiece Theater of Milwaukee tourism. I don’t know how anybody with any interest in history could disagree.

      Now, if you’ll kindly provide me with the details of all of the most painful moments of your personal history, I’ll be happy to organize the most tasteful, respectful tour of that time that you peed your pants while getting the shit beat out of you in high school imaginable. It’s in the interest of history. I can’t see why anyone would object.

  9. djdanska says:

    They do these types of crime/mob/etc tours in chicago all the time. When i lived in the gold coast, they used to pass by my apartment like hourly full of people in a black bus. No big deal.

  10. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    “Dahmer Tours…Remember the Dismembered”

  11. gspdark1 says:

    My GF lived in the same apartment complex in Milwaukee as Dahmer. She remembers him always lurking around trying to lure kids with candy, etc. She also knew one of his victims. Yup, small world.

  12. LoadStar says:

    It’s not too soon. It’s just wholly unnecessary.

  13. Autoexec.bat says:

    When I think of Milwaukee, I think of the Violent Femmes. Not a violent homme.

  14. Cat says:

    I’ve written a musical about Dahmer.

    ‚ô™ ‚ô´ ‚ô© ‚ô¨ Do you remember
    That guy I dismembered,
    Whose flesh was sweet
    And oh, so mellow?
    Do you remember
    That guy I dismembered,
    And swallowed… ‚ô™ ‚ô´ ‚ô© ‚ô¨

    What, too soon?

  15. Conformist138 says:

    Reactions to these things are always so fascinating. I mean, if you’re offended, don’t participate. There are a lot of things available to us that someone else might not like. Oh well.

  16. caj111 says:

    I wouldn’t pay 30 cents for something like this, let along $30. Tasteless, tacky and extremely disrespectful to the victims’ families. It’s a free country, do what you want, but my ethics and regard for others are different. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou, but I know something in poor taste when I see it. Bam Marketing should be ashamed for promoting this and ticketleap.com should be ashamed for allowing tickets through their website. According to the article the person that actually “owns” the tour must be ashamed because he refuses to identify himself. If ticketleap.com had any sense, they’d pull this from their website and tell them to sell their tickets elsewhere. At least Groupon came to their senses.

  17. Azagthoth says:

    I’m just wondering if they feed you.

  18. funnymonkey says:

    This is sickening and disrespectful, and just too soon. I think the comment on Jack the Ripper tours is pretty accurate. At some point, there won’t be anyone to offend.

    This whole article is weird, though. What’s with the cat picture? And this sentence: “Based on friends and family’s reactions I’ve been reading, it’s coming off as totally yucky.” seems really out of place. “Totally yucky”? We’re talking about a tour that sensationalizes the violent deaths of a lot of people and you put up a picture of a cat with it’s tongue out and call it “yucky”?

    How about a picture of Milwaukee, one of the bars on the tour, or Dahmer? And how about the reactions of friends and family indicates that they find it distasteful?

    Doesn’t Consumerist have an editor?

  19. failurate says:

    I need this tour like I need another hole in my head.

  20. Lisa W says:

    WOW…you can get a Groupon for just about anything these days! Lol

  21. Jane_Gage says:

    I was born in Amityville. Milwaukee is known for beer and mass murder, but Amityville is *only* known for familial slaughter.

  22. caj111 says:

    This might be because my internet connection isn’t great right now, but it looks like the website they were using to sell the tickets, http://www.ticketleap.com, is no longer selling the tickets.

  23. Unmitigated_Fool says:

    I used to live just blocks away from where Dahmer lived and I think it’s just funny. If there are suckers out there that are willing to drop $30 to walk past closed down bars then they deserve the half assed tour that they’ll get.

    • flychinook says:

      What I came here to say. This doesn’t sound macabre as much as it just sounds utterly boring.

  24. SoTEX says:

    never. too. soon.

  25. pamelad says:

    So sensationalist, Dahmer Tours, and to all who partake, you’re a bunch of parasites. I feel sorry for the people of Milwaukee who have to witness these so-called tours and have to re-live the horrors of the maniac, Jeffrey Dahmer.

  26. Trae says:

    I’m from Milwaukee (although I don’t live there anymore), and I guess it’s not a big deal to me. I mean, I’d never want to GO on one of those tours, but they don’t reLly OFFEND me.

    (also, what kind of people were you meeting where their first thought about finding out you were from Milwaukee was asking about Dahmer? Never in my life has anyone brought him up when I’ve mentioned I’m from Milwaukee.)

  27. Libertas says:

    4315 Charlotte, KCMO.

    Have fun.

  28. bohemond says:

    I know the man who owns the property that used to house the bar in question (the bar closed nearly 20 years ago and the property is currently vacant). He’s rather unhappy about this tour and wishes he could stop it, but doesn’t have any easy way to do so.

  29. bohemond says:

    I know the man who owns the property in question (the bar closed years ago and the property is currently vacant). He’s rather unhappy about the tour and wishes he had some way to stop it.