Is Lionel Dahmer still alive? An update on Jeffrey Dahmer's father

Here's what you need to know ahead of watching the new Netflix series

Research chemist/author Lionel Dahmer, father of confessed serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, w. wife Shari (stepmother) standing outside of Columbia Correctional Institute where Jeffrey is imprisoned.
(Image credit: Steve Kagan/Getty Images)

All eyes are on Netflix's new release, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. 

Evan Peters has stepped into the role of the notorious serial killer, and viewers everywhere are watching the horrific true crime story unfold through this fictionalized retelling. 

Since the series spans several points through Dahmer's life, including his childhood, everyone is curious what happened to his family, particularly his father Lionel, after this string of horrific events. 

His son was responsible for killing and dismemberment of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, and throughout the course of the 90s, Lionel, a research chemist, went on many a interview to discuss what had went wrong. In his 1994 memoir, A Father's Story, he made a series of stark revelations. 

"It is a portrayal of parental dread…the terrible sense that your child has slipped beyond your grasp, that your little boy is spinning in the void, swirling in the maelstrom, lost, lost, lost," he wrote.

But what happened to Lionel? Here's an update on the father of one of the world's most infamous murderers.

Is Lionel Dahmer still alive?

Yes, Lionel, 86, is still alive and living in Ohio with his second wife, Shari, according to databases, Distractify (opens in new tab) reports. Although he has yet to respond to the Netflix project at the time of publication, he certainly hasn't shied away from discussing his son in the past. 

In addition to detailing his son being "lost in the void" in his memoir, Lionel also confessed that perhaps he was in some way responsible for his child's wrongdoings.

"As I began to confront Jeff's childhood imaginings, it became clear to me that they had not always been wholly different from my own," he wrote in A Father's Story

Despite the unnecessary and violent actions, Lionel has sat down with many talk show hosts, Larry King and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few, and revealed that he did love his son and wished he had seen the warning signs. 

As for why Jeffrey did what he did? His father can only guess that it was a culmination of triggers: his parents' divorce, coming into his sexuality, health scares and remaining reclusive with his peers. 

"There really were no overt signs. He wasn't foaming at the mouth or talking to himself in his sleep, or acting in a weird fashion," he said on Good Morning America in the 90s, according to Newsweek (opens in new tab)

He did, however, point out a few red flags during that interview. 

"That's another thing that I would like to come across to parents, even if their child seems innocuously shy try to draw out their concerns and anger. Because if they don't talk to anyone there's no reality checking at all, and what they can't distinguish between fantasy and reality."

Richard Jenkins has taken on the role as Lionel in the new Netflix series. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is now streaming on Netflix. The three-part docu-series, Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, will arrive on Netflix on October 7.

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)