Archive for March 2nd, 2012

Hunting Grounds Tour

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A walking tour providing a peek into serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life and the Milwaukee haunts where he met and stalked victims has drawn growing protests, even prompting online deal-maker Groupon to cancel what some called a creepy promotion.

 Victims’ families and others call the idea an attempt to exploit an ugly part of the city’s history and want it to be stopped before the first tour even hits the sidewalks.

 But tour-sponsor Bam Marketing and Media has said it’s not deterred. Each of the company’s first two trips through the Walker’s Point neighborhood, scheduled for Saturday, had nearly reached the 20-person capacity by Thursday, said spokeswoman Amanda Morden.

 Walker’s Point Association president Victor Ray said Saturday, or any day in the near future, is too soon. Dahmer’s crimes are just two decades old and many of his victims’ family members are still around, he said.

 “I just don’t think this is the right timing,” Ray said. “And a tour of the area is not the right thing to do. It’s sensationalism in its finest.”

 Ray said most of the dozens of emails he’s received this week have criticized the tour, and there are plans by victims’ relatives and others to protest Saturday. Ray said one victim’s mother specifically asked for his group’s help.

 “She said ‘Do what you can to stop it,’” Ray said. The woman did not want to be interviewed by reporters.

 Morden said the Bam Marketing is sensitive to victims’ families, but has not sought their feedback.

 “We are not being evasive in any way,” she said. “If there is a concern we would be happy to address it.”

 Dahmer, a chocolate factory worker, spent years frequenting Walker’s Point-area gay bars. He was arrested in 1991 and admitted 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 he stored body parts eventually was razed. Walker’s Point now sits in the middle of a revitalized section of Milwaukee, with new restaurants and bars in remodeled buildings that once housed the bars Dahmer frequented.

 Morden said her group hoped to put a plaque with the victims’ names on one of the businesses in the area as a memorial. She also said a portion of the tour profits will be donated to charity, although a specific one hasn’t been chosen.

 Ray called it a token gesture.

 “I don’t think that’s going to make a difference to the community,” he said.

 Ray met tour group representatives Thursday in hopes of persuading them to call off their plans. But Morden said the group is offering a legitimate look at Dahmer’s crimes from a historical perspective, rather than with macabre fascination.

 Groupon had earlier this week offered two tour tickets for $25, instead of the normal $60, for what it called a 1-mile, 90-minute “spine-chilling glimpse” into Dahmer’s life. Only 15 tickets sold before the daily-deal website closed the promotion. Spokesman Nicholas Halliwell said in an emailed statement that it was never Groupon’s intention to offend anyone.

I am wondering what the tour consists of. From what I understand many of the places have been drastically changed during revitalization programs in this part of the city.

Do you walk past the old apartment building which is now a vacant lot and have a guide say: “This is where the apartment building that Dahmer killed in once stood.”? That does not sound interesting at all.

 It’s not unusual for gruesome crimes to become part of a city’s lore and draw. There are tours in London about Jack the Ripper, in Los Angeles about Charles Manson, and in Boston about the Boston Strangler.

I did think of these tours when I first heard about this one. I have never heard of any big protests about any of them before. I am a bit split, I can not say that I would not take one if I happened upon it but I wouldn’t seek out one either.

 But the VISIT Milwaukee tourism group won’t be promoting Dahmer.

 “We don’t need to give notoriety to an individual like Jeffrey Dahmer who did painful and hurtful things and did nothing to further the community’s image,” spokeswoman Jeannine Sherman said.

Morden, though, compared the tour to a book or documentary, just in a different format.

 “Whether we like it or not it’s part of our city’s history,” she said. “It’s part of our nation’s history.”

I do kind of agree with this line of thinking. Allowing the community to forget these things happen is not good. They need to remember, to stay aware, they need to make sure that they are doing all that they can to see that it never happens again. 

Just not talking about it does not make it not have happened.

I just do not know how I would feel if it was my loved one that had been killed.

Then again, it is a way to make sure that the victims are never forgotten. I bet more people remember the names of Jack the Ripper’s victims then they do Ted Bundy’s victims.

 Sara Drescher, who manages a pub in the neighborhood, sees more of a gray area. She said she supports people being able to start a business but not at the expense of victims’ families.

 “It’s a difficult thing, and I don’t know the right way for it to be handled,” she said

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