On its front page Tuesday, the New York Post touted an exclusive interview with the fellow inmate who killed serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer two decades ago:
Yes, I know it's shocking to hear that the Post produced a piece of tabloid journalism. And somewhere today, a dog bit a mailman.
But stick with me for a moment, and I'll explain my reason for highlighting this story. There really is a GetReligion angle. Promise.
First, let me share the Post's graphic lede:
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was done in by his uncontrollable lust for human flesh, the man who whacked him in prison 20 years ago told The Post, revealing for the first time why the cannibal had to die.
Christopher Scarver — who fatally beat the serial killer and another inmate in 1994 — said he grew to despise Dahmer because he would fashion severed limbs out of prison food to taunt the other inmates.
He’d drizzle on packets of ketchup as blood.
It was very unnerving.
“He would put them in places where people would be,” Scarver, 45, recalled in a low, gravelly voice.
“He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them.”
From personal experience, I know that murderers interviewed in prison can tell crazy stories. A Tennessee inmate condemned to die for seven murders told me in 2003 that the government used him as "an experimental lab rat" and controlled his mind and body with scientific technology.
But here's what frustrating about the Post report: The New York newspaper presents Dahmer's lack of repentance as a fact.
While acknowledging — again — that we're talking about a tabloid, I wonder: Did the Post consider Googling "Jeffrey Dahmer" and "repentance?"
Before he died, Dahmer made a high-profile conversion to Christianity.
On the day Dahmer died, I wrote this front-page story for The Oklahoman:
Joy — not sadness — characterized Curt Booth's voice Monday after hearing the news of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer's death in a Wisconsin prison.
But Booth, an ex-convict turned Oklahoma prison minister, had no vindictive feelings toward the man who confessed to murdering 17 men and boys and eating some of them.
Instead, the Crescent man — who earlier this year mailed Dahmer a Bible and later helped find a preacher to baptize him — talked about someday joining a fellow Christian in heaven.
"I know Jeffrey was ready," said Booth, 64, a Crescent Church of Christ member who served more than four years in prison for what he called "thievery. " "Today, all the angels in heaven are rejoicing because Jeffrey has come home."
Booth said he has no doubt about the sincerity of Dahmer's conversion, which he credits to Jesus Christ.
Twenty-two years later, the journalistic issue isn't whether Dahmer's conversion was sincere.
Rather, the question is: Why ignore that crucial detail in a story that purports to "tell all?"
I know. I know. Consider the source.