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3News Investigates: Jeffrey Dahmer's return sparks memories of a 'monster' in his Summit County hometown

While Jeffrey Dahmer's Bath Township pal remembers their school bus rides together, his defense attorney recalls a cold killer.

BATH, Ohio — Jeffrey Dahmer was coming home, dragging with him an evolving horrific story of a serial killer.

And Bath Township, the sleepy and affluent Summit County town, couldn’t look away.

Dahmer grew up there, attended Revere High School. And yes, he covered up the first of his 17 killings right in his own backyard.

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While some over the years couldn’t resist telling their own stories of fleeting encounters with the awkward teenaged Dahmer, most others have tried to move on.

Now, thanks largely to the streaming infatuation of today and the ubiquitous platform known as Netflix, a whole new generation is enthralled with America’s most notorious killers.

Eric Tyson, a childhood pal, spent many days with Dahmer. He lived three doors away on Bath Road, attending the same schools and playing like young boys often did.

“No, I didn’t see anything that would tip me off that would become, you know, lead me to suspect he would do something like this,” Tyson told 3News Investigates.

“...But looking back at it, I can see a teenager who's transitioning to adulthood, their body chemistry is changing. They're suffering an emotional shock and you know, that trips 'em off, you know, pushes them over the edge. Yeah, far over the edge. And for them to cannibalize and they cut their heads off and put 'em in the refrigerator and all that stuff. That's just nuts.”

No, that was just Dahmer.

He was a diabolical killer who preyed on those he believed wouldn’t be missed. He was wrong.

Steven Hicks was his first victim in 1978. Like Dahmer, he was just 18. A recent graduate of Coventry High, just south of Akron, Hicks was looking for a ride to meet with friends to attend a rock concert.

Instead, he took a ride from Dahmer, never to be seen again. His disappearance would go unsolved until Dahmer’s arrest in 1991.

Hicks’ family did not return several messages left by 3News.

Dahmer confessed to the murder, and claimed he didn’t commit his second until 1987. Four years and 15 cannibalized bodies later, Dahmer was arrested in Milwaukee.

Shortly after, he confessed to Hicks’ killing, leading to an indictment in Summit County.

His father, Lionel, needed a lawyer he could trust. By chance, after talking to one of the throng of reporters covering his son’s case, Lionel Dahmer found his man, a Philadelphia lawyer named Robert Mozenter.

“I wasn’t following the case. I wasn’t interested in it,” Mozenter told 3News.

It was over dinner with the Dahmer family that Mozenter agreed to take the case.

“My agreement with Jeffrey's father and the family was to represent Jeffrey in a way that would get him to plead guilty, go to jail, and keep the news media and the circus atmosphere at a minimum. And that's why I was retained," Mozenter recalled.

His next step was to meet with Dahmer personally.

“My first impression was that this was a very handsome young man who looked like a normal person, who would be easily, you would be easily attracted to or to talk to. He was tall, attractive and he was articulate. But after our conversation you could see that there was nothing, nothing there in his eyes. He had a personality that was void of any kind of empathy. Going through your head. It was like, this is crazy,” he said. “You know, I had no idea he had done such terrible things.”

Mozenter remembers the encounter clearly all these years later. Especially the weirdness and the media reaction that came along.

“I was bombarded after I interviewed him with news media from all over the world calling me...all kinds of bogus people, as well as legitimate people trying to get interviews,” he said. “And my job, I was retained to protect him from that. Jeffrey's father wanted the case to go quickly and serve a life sentence, which is what happened.”

In May 1992, after receiving a haircut from a Highland Square barber and donning a new suit, Dahmer made his grand appearance in Akron. With Hicks’ family watching, along with millions on television, Dahmer admitted his guilt.

Tyson still remembers the stunning news when his childhood friend was exposed as a killer.

“I was shocked that he did that,” he said. “You know, there was definitely the shock factor. I knew he could probably do it. He was physically, he was pretty strong. He could overpower people, and he obviously did that with his first victim and the others and he drugged them and did all those crazy things.”

Mozenter left the Akron courthouse that day and never looked back. He’s had hundreds of criminal cases since, but he said he put Dahmer behind him. He says he rarely accepts interviews about the case..

“I was very uncomfortable with him. And usually I'm not with my clients, but I was very uncomfortable with him,” he recalled.

He also recalls predicting Dahmer’s eventual murder at the hands of a fellow inmate.

“Well, I'll tell you a secret,” he said. “I told Jeffrey's father after the sentencing [in Akron] that I predicted he would not live two years in prison, that they would kill him in prison. And I think it was 15 months later, he got killed.”

Dahmer was beaten to death Nov. 28, 1994 in a Wisconsin prison. He was bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate, just as Mozenter predicted.

“He was a monster,” Mozenter said. “I don't know how else to describe him. If you read the confession, you would come to the conclusion that he was a monster.

 “I've never had any client like that. And I've had some bad guys I represented, persons who were mentally ill, but this guy was a monster.”


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