Local business leaders are trying to buy Jeffrey Dahmer's belongings so the items can be destroyed. The asking price: $1 million.
"We've seen what Camelot can bring," said Thomas Jacobson, the lawyer for the families of eight of Dahmer's victims. "Now let's use our imagination to find out what Dahmer can bring."An auction last week in New York City of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' belongings fetched $34.5 million.
Jacobson said he knows there is tremendous interest in Dahmer's things. Dahmer was killed in prison in November 1994 while serving time for the slayings of 15 men and boys in Wisconsin. He was convicted in Ohio of another death, and was accused of killing a 17th person, but was not convicted in that death.
Last week, a judge ordered that Dahmer's assets be liquidated and that the proceeds be distributed to the families of his victims.
"It's got to be a million," Jacobson said of the price for all the items. "That is a non-negotiable figure."
Jacobson said he was contacted Monday by a representative for real estate magnate Joseph Zilber and asked what it would take to buy Dahmer's property and avoid having it be sold at auction.
The group is said to include some individuals and some businesses, including some publicly traded Milwaukee companies. Zilber is out of town and could not be reached for comment. He said through a spokesman that he is repulsed by the idea of Dahmer's belongings - and the instruments of his torturings and killings - being sold to the highest bidders and preserved in museums.
"Mr. Zilber believes that the items proposed for auction should be destroyed for the good of the city," said his spokesman, Michael Mervis.
The items include two sets of handcuffs, a lava lamp, 57-gallon drum, Sears freezer, the refrigerator in which Dahmer stored some of his victims' body parts, drill, four knives, 80-quart aluminum kettle, gargoyle figurines, heavy-duty chemical-resistant gloves, four saw blades, handsaw and two boxes of Soilex cleaner.
Robert Steuer, the Milwaukee lawyer hired by the court to liquidate Dahmer's assets, said Tuesday that if Jacobson and the business people can reach an agreement, he would likely agree to that.
Steuer's recommendation will be forwarded to the judge for his approval.
"I can't think of a better group to buy the property," Steuer said. "Their objective is highly acceptable."
Walter Tuomi, the father of one of Dahmer's victims, Steven Tuomi, said he would prefer that the items go on the auction block and be sold for the highest possible price.
"It would be nice to get a little help," he said. "Anybody could use money, especially up in the sticks up here in Upper Michigan."
When asked if it wouldn't be better to have Dahmer's stuff destroyed, Tuomi said, "It doesn't bother me."
Since last week, several people have approached Steuer and Jacobson offering various sums for different items. "We are not selling individual items" in advance of the auction, Steuer said.
Jacobson said he has a proposal in writing by a person who will provide the place to hold a national auction and to provide national publicity.
"It would be tremendous," Jacobson said. He declined to identify that person, saying the bid has not been accepted. "The person will underwrite all the expenses."
Others are preparing proposals, he said.
Jacobson added that he would recommend to his clients that they take the $1 million, if it is offered to them.
He added that he is not bothered by the backlash of public opinion about the idea of an auction. The auction has been the target of criticism by newspaper columnists and cartoonists, radio talk-show hosts and late-night TV hosts.
"I am willing to take whatever heat there is in order to get compensations for my families," Jacobson said.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)