Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Reveals a Case of Destruction and Injustice

Netflix’s most recent release, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, received criticism for its lack of awareness for various social groups and for the affected families who had to relive a horrifying and traumatic experience. This post is not to reiterate Dahmer’s story in a way that wrongfully puts him in the spotlight; instead, the forensic anthropology and the bioarchaeology involved in the investigation will be emphasized to explore an issue that has been rooted in injustice. 

Figure 1. The timeline of Dahmer’s insidious murders which included eight Black males, one Asian male, and one White male. (Jentzen 2017) 

Because Dahmer’s case was largely characterized by extreme means of actions, the need for forensic anthropologists was constituted. Many things were discovered and investigated, and the primary takeaways consisted of detailing Dahmer’s motives and the commonalities between the victims in the case (Jentzen 2017). The work of forensic anthropologists allowed a larger issue, in the spectrum of law enforcement and race, to arise. Through the inhumane evidence that Dahmer left behind, the bioarchaeology of his victims was sought. It was revealed that a majority of his victims were neglected and vulnerable low-income minorities that came as a result of institutional racism in an impoverished Milwaukee location (Barnard 2000).

Figure 2. Jeffery Dahmer’s victim remains are carried away by toxicologists. 

The remains of Dahmer’s victims indicated that they were a part of social groups that were heavily looked down upon during that time; unfortunately, that is still the case today. One of Dahmer’s victims notoriously included 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone. Konerak managed to escape Dahmer’s apartment with obvious scathe, which a few neighbors of color noticed and called law enforcement. However, the police ignored the distress coming from the witnesses and the clear evidence coming in the form of bruises and blood from Konerak. They then returned the boy to Dahmer, who would eventually be murdered and discovered by forensic anthropologists at the time of Dahmer’s arrest (Barnard 2000). 

Other than the severity of Dahmer’s crimes, what also sparked national interest and anger is that the most disadvantaged groups (color and LGBTQ+) were the majority of the victims (Barnard 2000). In addition, the ignorance of the law added to support the fact that racial and social minority groups did not feel heard and supported. Forensic anthropologists and bioarchaeology played a role in making the truth real. It is upsetting to see that in the context of the past, human behavior is supposed to make a stride in being better for tomorrow. Unfortunately, however, the bioarchaeology of disadvantaged minority and social groups is the same as before. 


Barnard, Ian. “The Racialization of Sexuality: The Queer Case of Jeffrey Dahmer.” Thamyris Overcoming Boundaries: Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality 7.1-2 (2000): 67-97. Print. 

Jentzen JM. Micro Disasters: The Case of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Acad Forensic Pathol. 2017 Sep;7(3):444-452. doi: 10.23907/2017.037. Epub 2017 Sep 1. PMID: 31239993; PMCID: PMC6474573.

Further Reading 

Bagawan, Juanita. Study that claims white police no more likely to shoot minorities draws fire. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022. 

McEvoy, Jemima. Video of Police Ignoring Suspected Kenosha Shooter Sparks Calls of Injustice. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022. 


2 thoughts on “Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Reveals a Case of Destruction and Injustice

  1. Do you think forensic anthropology plays a role in bringing people’s stories to light after death? Or is its role limited to the part it plays in the legal system?

    • I think it has the potential to bring people’s stories to light. In the legal system, bringing people’s stories to light may also come about naturally. However, the problem with forensic anthropologists is that there could be inherent bias or mistakes. Similar to Kennewick Man’s story in how the first archaeologist/anthropologist deduced that he was white when in reality he wasn’t. But I do think that forensic anthropologists have a lot of potentials to bring truth to a lot of people’s stories after death.

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