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Friday, August 2, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Could Police Have Saved Young Victim? -- 911 Tapes Show Officers Were In Dahmer's Place, Left Teen To Fate

Chicago Tribune

MILWAUKEE - Police were in the apartment of Jeffrey Dahmer on May 27 but left after returning a dazed and naked 14-year-old boy to the fate he apparently had sought to escape.

The remains of the boy, Konerak Sinthasomphone - who had been reported missing the day before the incident - were among the 11 found last week in Dahmer's Milwaukee apartment. He likely was killed in the hours after the officers' visit.

Officials yesterday released a tape of police conversations about the previously reported encounter.

Police Chief Philip Arreola lodged administrative charges yesterday against the three officers involved. The three, who have not been publicly named, have been suspended with pay since last Friday, when Arreola ordered an internal investigation.

"There is no way we can change what has occurred," said Arreola, clearly pained by the apparent breach of procedure by the officers.

The officers involved, Arreola said, "failed to conduct a basic, proper police investigation into the matter. Basic law-enforcement practices were not followed."

The officers did not run a records check on Dahmer, 31, who was on probation for sexually assaulting Sinthasomphone's brother, now 16, in 1988.

And they accepted Dahmer's casual assurance that the Laotian boy was 19. He was really 14. Assuming they were dealing with a homosexual lovers' quarrel, they returned the boy to Dahmer's apartment.

Lawyers for the police officers confirmed yesterday that two of the officers were inside the apartment. Unknown to the officers, parts of six bodies were in various containers around the apartment. Five more people would be killed there after they left.

The Milwaukee Journal, quoting unnamed sources, said Dahmer told police that there were also photos of previous victims strewn on the floor and a body in his bedroom "smelling like hell" at the time the two officers were present.

Sinthasomphone was speechless during the encounter, according to lawyers representing the officers. Dahmer has since told police he drugged his victims before killing them.

The officers' version of the incident emerged from the tape recording of police communications that night.

Milwaukee resident Nicole Childress, 17, called 911 at 2 a.m. to report in alarmed tones that a man was chasing a youth who was naked, dazed and bleeding.

"I'm on 25th and State," she said. "And there's this young man, he is buck-naked and he has been beaten up. He is very bruised up. He can't stand. He has no clothes on. He is really hurt. . . ."

The 911 operator dispatched a squad car to the intersection to look for a "man down . . . badly beaten, wearing no clothes." Meanwhile, Childress was connected with the fire department dispatcher, who immediately sent an ambulance.

A Milwaukee County sheriff's deputy reported another call, describing "subject male dragging a naked male who looked like he was beat up severely."

The next communication is 15 minutes later from the police car dispatched to the scene.

"The intoxicated Asian naked male (laughter in background) was returned to his sober boyfriend (more laughter)." When the officers are dispatched to another scene, one comments that, first, "my partner is going to get deloused at the station."

About 10 minutes later, Glenda Cleveland, Childress' aunt, called police to ask about the incident and offer her niece and daughter, Sandra Smith, 18, as witnesses.

"No information was taken down. I was wondering how this situation was being handled. It indicated a male child was being raped and molested by an adult," Cleveland told one officer with whom she spoke.

Finally, she reached one of the officers who handled the incident. She was told the accounts of her niece and daughter weren't needed.

"It was an intoxicated boyfriend of another boyfriend," the officer told her.

"Well, how old was this child?" Cleveland asked.

"It wasn't a child. It was an adult," he said.

When Cleveland persisted, the officer responded: "Ma'am. Ma'am. I can't make it any more clear. It's all taken care of. He is with his boyfriend, in his boyfriend's apartment, where he has his belongings also."

The officer later said, as Cleveland continued to question whether the injured person was a child: "I can't do anything about somebody's sexual preference in life."

Laurie Eggert, a lawyer representing the Milwaukee Police Association, which is defending the three officers, said Dahmer showed officers photographs of a relaxed Sinthasomphone wearing only bikini-style briefs.

"They were of Konerak posing, not photos of dead men. Officers assumed there was some sort of relationship here," Eggert said at a press conference.

"It appeared they were two friends, and one was going to take care of the other one. During this time, the Asian male sat on the couch. He did not groan or show distress," she said.

Eggert defended the officers' judgment that, as Dahmer had told them, the boy was an adult. She said the officers reported the encounter to their superiors on July 22, as soon as they learned that body parts had been found at Dahmer's apartment.

"What they did was consistent with their training and consistent with being a human being," she said. "There was nothing that would raise suspicion that there was foul play."

She said the officers described Dahmer as calm, appearing to be a man with nothing to hide and showed no concern or nervousness when officers entered the apartment with Sinthasomphone.

But when asked about the pronounced stench Dahmer's neighbors had complained of for months, Eggert had no comment.

The three officers have seven working days to respond to the charges. At that time Police Chief Arreola has the option of administrative punishment that can range from termination to probation.

Meanwhile, Anoukone Sinthasomphone, Konerak's brother, said his family is angry at the officers who he said "didn't do their job."

Sinthasomphone, 27, whose family fled Laos in 1980, stopped short of demanding the officers be fired, saying the family believes the Police Department will do the right thing.

"I trust American law. I trust in America," he said.

Authorities in Bath, Ohio, today resumed search of Dahmer's boyhood home and 1.7 acres surrounding it. They are looking for skeletal remains and have turned up more than 50 bone fragments and three partial teeth.

-- Information from Associated Press is included in this report.

911 TRANSCRIPTS

The police received a 911 call at 2 a.m. May 27 from 17-year-old Nicole Childress:

Dispatcher: "Milwaukee emergency. Operator 71."

Childress: "OK. Hi. I am on 25th and State. And there's this young man. He's buck-naked and he has been beaten up. He is very bruised up. He can't stand. He has no clothes on. He is really hurt. And I, you know, ain't got no coat on. But I just seen him. He needs some help. . . ."

After investigating, an officer reported back to the dispatcher.

Officer: "The intoxicated Asian naked male (laughter in background) was returned to his sober boyfriend (more laughter)."

An officer later said the assignment was done and the squad was ready for new duties.

Officer: "Ten-four. It will be a minute. My partner is going to get deloused at the station." (Laughter on the tape.)

Glenda Cleveland called police about 10 minutes later inquiring about the incident and she was eventually connected with one of the officers who had investigated the report.

Cleveland: "Yea, ah, what happened? I mean my daughter and my niece witnessed what was going on. Was anything done about the situation? Do you need their names or information or anything from them?"

Officer: "No, not at all."

Cleveland: "You don't?"

Officer: "Nope. It was an intoxicated boyfriend of another boyfriend."

Cleveland: "Well, how old was this child?"

Officer: "It wasn't a child. It was an adult."

Cleveland: "Are you sure?"

Officer: "Yup."

Cleveland: "Are you positive? Because this child doesn't even speak English (the victim's family has since said he did speak English). My daughter had, you know, dealt with him before, seeing him on the street. You know, catching earthworms."

Officer: Ma'am. Ma'am. I can't make it any more clear. It's all taken care of. He is with his boyfriend, in his boyfriend's apartment, where he has his belongings also."

Cleveland: "But what if he's a child? Are you positive he is an adult?"

Officer: "Ma'am, like I explained to you, it's all taken care of. It's as positive as I can be. I can't do anything about somebody's sexual preference in life."

Cleveland: "Well, no, I am not saying anything about that, but it appeared to have been a child. This is my concern."

Officer: "No. No. He's not."

Cleveland: "He's not a child?

Officer: "No, he's not. OK? And it's a boyfriend-boyfriend thing. And he's got belongings at the house where he came from. He has very nice pictures of himself and his boyfriend and so forth."

Cleveland: "OK, I am just, you know. It appeared to have been a child. That was my concern."

Officer: "I understand. No, he is not. Nope."

Cleveland: "Oh, OK. Thank you. Bye."

-- Associated Press and Chicago Tribune.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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