Lionel suspected that the move from Iowa to Ohio was the causative factor, and Jeff's behavior was a normal reaction to being uprooted from familiar settings and placed into entirely new ones. Lionel, too, had suffered from shyness, introversion and insecurity as a child and had learned to overcome these problems. He figured his son would learn to overcome them too. What he didn't realize was that Jeff's boyhood condition was far graver than his and that "Jeff had begun to suffer from a near isolation."
In April of 1967, they bought a new house. Jeff seemed to adjust better to this move and developed a close friendship with a boy named Lee. He was also very fond of one of his teachers and took her a bowl of tadpoles he had caught. Later, Jeff found out that the teacher had given the tadpoles to his friend Lee. Jeff sneaked into Lee's garage and killed all the tadpoles with motor oil.
Things did not get better with time. "His posture, and the general way in which he carried himself, changed radically between his tenth and 15th years. The loose-limbed boy disappeared, and was replaced by a strangely rigid and inflexible figure.
He looked tense, his body very straight. He grew increasingly shy during this time and when approached by other people, he would become very tense. More and more, he remained at home, alone in his room or staring at television. His face was often blank, and he gave the more or less permanent impression of someone who could do nothing but mope around, purposeless and disengaged.
He had one friend, who drifted apart from him at age 15. Lionel found out at Jeff's trial that during this period, Jeff would ride around with plastic garbage bags and collect the remains of animals for his own private cemetery. "He would strip the flesh from the bodies of these putrescent road kills and even mount a dog's head on a stake." There has been the suggestion that Jeff tortured animals, but that is unlikely. He enjoyed a dog and cat as pets in his childhood and kept pet fish as an adult. His fascination was with dead creatures.