Byline: JANE RIDLEY
ON A stifling summer afternoon in Milwaukee, Tracy Edwards was cooling off with a cold beer in a bar.
The 32-year-old was drinking with two friends, Jeff Stevens and Carl Gilliam, when he noticed a familiar, solitary figure near the side entrance.
The sandy-haired six-footer had asked Tracy for a light a couple of times, but they had never held a conversation. That night - July 22, 1991 - Jeffrey Dahmer approached the group and told them he was "really bored".
Earlier, the killer had offered several black and Hispanic men up to $100 to return with him to his flat to "pose for pictures and drink some rum".
Now he tried the same line on Tracy and his friends.
At around 6pm, the four men left the bar for a liquor store to buy rum. While Dahmer was inside, Tracy's twin brother, Terrance, walked past and asked Tracy what was going on.
"Some weirdo is going to pay us just to have a good time," said Tracy.
Ignoring his brother's warnings, Tracy climbed into a taxi with Dahmer.
Dahmer, 31, took Tracy to his flat in a rough area of Milwaukee - 213 Oxford Apartments on North 25th Street.
As his companion disabled several alarms at the entrance, Tracy began to feel uneasy. The flat was obsessively tidy, yet the air was heavy with a putrid odour, that Dahmer blamed on faulty sewers.
In fact, Dahmer had dismembered 15 bodies there over the previous year and had eaten their internal organs, arms and legs, and stashed other body parts in boxes around his flat.
He steered Tracy towards his fish tank. Nursing a rum and coke, Tracy stepped over four large cartons of muriatic acid. By now, he was realising he might be in danger.
As Tracy turned his back to look at the fish, Dahmer snapped a pair of handcuffs around his left wrist and pressed a large military knife up against his rib cage.
The killer was preparing to claim his 18th victim.
"What's happening?" asked Tracy, struggling to keep calm.
DAHMER said it was just a joke. He led Tracy towards his bedroom, saying that the keys to the handcuffs were in there.
In the bedroom, covered in posters of men, a video of Exorcist II was playing. "I won't hurt you if you let me handcuff you and take some pictures," said Dahmer, still brandishing the knife. "You have to be nude."
Trying to placate Dahmer, he said he would let him take photographs - but only if he put the weapon away.
Dahmer sat on the bed, rocking slowly and watching the video. He held the knife to Tracy's throat, chanting incantations.
"He kept changing moods," recalled Tracy. "He was a different person from one moment to the next - transfixed by the movie."
Laying his head on Tracy's chest, Dahmer told him he was beautiful. "I was lying on the floor," recalled Tracy. He told me he wanted to listen to my heartbeat. It was sickening. He said he was going to eat my heart. This guy was serious."
Dahmer was relishing the power he had over Tracy. "It turned him on more than anything else," Tracy says. "I thought: `I'm going to have to do something now. He's going to kill me anyway so I might as well die trying'."
Tracy continued to try to pacify Dahmer. "I wanted to let him know I was his friend and he said he didn't want people to abandon him. In my opinion, that's why he kept the bodies around."
Tracy said he would do what Dahmer wanted as soon as he'd taken off the handcuffs. As Dahmer turned to find the key, Tracy flung himself at the front door. As Tracy went for the bolt, Dahmer came after him. "I saw him swing a blade at me, right above my head. So I ducked and spun round and hit him in the groin area."
Dahmer grabbed his arm, begging him to come back into the flat. But Tracy broke free again, stumbled into the street and flagged down a passing police car. By now it was 11. …