MILWAUKEE (AP) — A business offering walking tours of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's haunts in Milwaukee has offered to donate some proceeds to a charity that supports the parents of murder victims, but that group said Tuesday it wants no part of it.
Nancy Ruhe, executive director of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that even though the economic downturn has led to a drop in donations, the organization would never accept money from a group that profits from someone else's murderous acts.
"I cannot believe we can't let these people rest in peace," she said Tuesday. "It's unbelievable that someone has come up with a moneymaker off those who have been murdered."
Ruhe said she planned to send an email alert to the organization's 200,000 members nationwide Tuesday about the tours.
Amanda Morden, a spokeswoman for tour organizer, Bam Marketing and Media, said Tuesday the agency believes strongly in the organization of parents and still plans to make an anonymous donation.
She said she spent Tuesday responding to emails from the organization's members, explaining their intent is purely informational and they hope to learn from the past. She said she is also making it clear that they are not glorifying Dahmer or condoning his actions.
"We need to understand the dark side of history to learn from it," Morden said.
The tour highlights Dahmer's methodology in picking up victims, including spiking their drinks and ways he could have been caught earlier, she said.
"This organization is probably the one that ties the most into the information provided on this tour," Morden said.
She has said the size of the donation would depend on the success of the tours. She said she suspected it could amount up to 20 percent of annual profits from the Dahmer tours.
The new walking tour of places where Dahmer trawled for victims drew attention after criticism prompted online deal-maker Groupon to take down a promotion for discounted tickets last week. But Bam Media said it would not cancel what it calls a legitimate exploration of criminal history.
Dahmer, a chocolate factory worker, spent years frequenting gay bars in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood. He was arrested in 1991 and admitted to killing 17 young men, some of whom he mutilated and cannibalized. He was serving life prison sentences when a fellow inmate beat him to death in 1994.
The apartment building where Dahmer stored body parts eventually was razed. The tours are taking place in Walker's Point, which is being revitalized, with new restaurants and bars in remodeled buildings that once housed the bars where Dahmer went.
Janie Hagen's brother, 25-year-old Richard Guerrero, disappeared in 1988 and was one of the first young men Dahmer is known to have murdered. She said she thought donating the money to a charity was a "cop-out" to try to convince people who take the tour that they are doing something positive. She said she's been seeing a therapist for 20 years to deal with her nightmares and other issues related to Dahmer. If any money is donated, it should go to the families, she said.
"If they want to donate this money they should donate it to pay for my psychological doctor bill," said Hagen, 49. "I'm sure a lot of other families are seeing therapists. It screws everybody up, when you have such a horrific tragedy like that."
Morden said Bam Media has been unable to find one charity that represents the families.
Hagen was one of the 20 or so people who protested as the first tour took place on Saturday. She said she and other family members plan to show up every Saturday to protest until the tours are halted.
Morden said she respects Hagen's right to peacefully protest, but that it's imperative for the tour group to continue to tell people about Dahmer's crimes and learn from them so they are not repeated.
- Jeffrey Dahmer