Dahmer's murderous tools may be put up for auction

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The Independent Online
Memorabilia hunters with a twisted taste for the horrific will be celebrating a ruling by an American court yesterday that the tools used by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to torture and dismember his victims may be put up for auction.

Final approval for the unusual sale was granted by a judge in Portage, Wisconsin, over the objections of federal prosecutors and after several months of rancourous debate about the fate of Mr Dahmer's grizzly belongings. The proceeds will go to the families of those he killed.

Dahmer was given several life sentences in 1992 after being convicted of a 13-year, sexually driven spree of murder and cannibalism that took the lives of 17 young men and boys. Dahmer was himself bludgeoned to death by a fellow prison inmate in November 1994.

Among the items to be auctioned will be a sledgehammer, saws, a hatchet, a hypodermic needle and knives, as well as drill-bits used by Dahmer to bore holes into the foreheads of the drugged victims whom he had lured to his suburban Wisconsin home.

Also on the block will be the refrigerator and the vat in which body parts were found when Dahmer was first arrested in 1991. A lawyer who has represented the families of the victims, Thomas Jacobson, has estimated that the entire house-of-horrors haul might raise $100,000 (pounds 60,000).

News of the impending auction was in gruesome counterpoint to that other auction now captivating the imagination of the American public: the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis estate sale at Sotheby's in New York.

While the Dahmer sale will hardly attract the same clientele of Kennedy worshippers, there is little doubt that buyers there will be. Evidently, there is a vibrant market in the US for so-called "murderabilia", items directly traceable to the country's most heinous convicts.

Items known to have been avidly traded in recent months include hand- written song lyrics by notorious cult leader and murder-conspirator, Charles Manson (snapped up for $1,500), chest hairs from California highway rapist, Roy Norris, and fingernail clippings from Norris's accomplice, Lawrence Bittaker.