Sunday, October 2, 2022

Joseph Gabrish & John Balcerzak Now: Where Are They Today?

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Joseph Gabrish and John Balcerzak were the two Milwaukee police officers who turned over a naked, bleeding 14-year-old boy to serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

They did so over objections from Dahmer’s neighbor Glenda Cleveland and other women at the scene.

Gabrish and Balcerzak became known as the “Dahmer Cops”.

What happened to Gabrish and Balcerzak? Despite the controversy that made big headlines at the time of Dahmer’s arrest, both men went on to have long careers in Wisconsin law enforcement.

The Dahmer murders are receiving renewed attention with a new Netflix series. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story began streaming on September 21, 2022. “In more than a decade, 17 teenagers and young men have been murdered by convicted murderer Jeffrey Dahmer. How did he evade arrest for so long?” asks the Netflix site for the show.

Here’s what you need to know:

According to the lawyer, the two officers were fired by Police Chief Philip Arreola but reinstated by a court order. That decided reserve judge Robert Parins.

A 1994 Associated Press article reported that Parins decided that “the layoffs were too severe a punishment and that former officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish should be reinstated with an additional payment of about $55,000 each.”

The Fire and Police Commission appealed in vain. The men were fired for “failing to follow police procedures,” the AP reported.

The Washington Post reported that Arreola fired police for “acts of omission,” including “a failure to take the names of witnesses at the scene and a failure to place the 14-year-old boy in protective custody.”

According to OnMilwaukee.com, two months before Dahmer’s arrest in 1991, the two officers “were responding to a phone call in an alleyway next to Dahmer’s apartment.” The report came as “men devastated” and “severely beaten”. It was Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14.

Officers “arrived at the scene to see a young man, naked and dazed, wrapped in a blanket, with paramedics from the Milwaukee Fire Department. Jeffrey Dahmer stood by his side,” reported OnMilwaukee.com.

According to OnMilwaukee.com, Dahmer had met Konerak at a mall and asked to take photos of him; he drugged him, but Konerak escaped when Dahmer went to buy alcohol. Dahmer convinced Gabrish and Balcerzak that it was a “domestic situation,” and they handed Konerak back to the serial killer who killed him, according to OnMilwaukee.

A November 1992 Associated Press story, accessible at Newspapers.com, cites Cleveland.

Officials ignored Cleveland’s fierce objections, according to WTMJ-TV.

The boy was “naked and bleeding,” the TV station reported, but Dahmer “told officers the boy was an adult and his lover and he was drunk.”

Cleveland told the AP she was “so concerned about the naked, dazed youth” that she was considering protesting to the police.

“I was thinking about some stupid things like handcuffing myself or sitting on the steps and not moving,” Cleveland told the AP.

The encounter happened in 1991. Cleveland, her niece Nicole Childress, neighbor Tina Spivey, and Cleveland’s daughter Sandra Smith told police, “They felt Sinthasomphone was trying to get away from Dahmer,” the AP reported.

In fact, Balcerzak ran the Milwaukee Police Association. The television station WTMJ-TV reported that he left the group in 2017.

In 2009, Milwaukee Magazine wrote, “Longtime Milwaukee Police Union President Bradley DeBraska could be criticized for many things, but he was a very smart, proactive leader. His successor, John Balcerzak, turns out to be a disaster. Chances are that union membership will replace him – and soon.”

According to UPI, Balcerzak testified at Dahmer’s trial. “Mr. Dahmer remained calm and direct throughout the investigation,” Balcerzak said. “He was clean-shaven, cleanly dressed and his clothes were not in disorder.”

Over the years, Balcerzak also owned a tavern, according to the AP.

Gabrish left the Milwaukee squad. According to the Ozaukee Press, he was appointed interim chief of police for the Grafton Police Department, where he served as a captain.

“I look forward to working with the Village Board and the people here to make this a safe community,” Gabrish said in 2019, this newspaper reported.

“Gabrish joined the department as an officer in 1993 and became a deputy in 2007. Prior to joining the department, Gabrish was an officer with the Milwaukee Police Department for nearly 11 years,” the Ozaukee Press reported, adding, “Gabrish is also the chief of police for the city of Trenton, where he lives. He founded the Trenton Police Department in 1997.”

The newspaper reported that Gabrish was pursuing a master’s degree.

Gabrish is now retired. According to UPI, Gabrish testified that Dahmer “was polite and gave us no reason to suspect anything at all against him. He was very cooperative with us.” However, he did notice an odor in Dahmer’s apartment.

“I equated it to a bowel movement or someone had just gone to the bathroom,” Gabrish testified.

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