Is Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Show a True Story and Where Is He Now?

America was paralyzed in the early 1990s by the horrific discovery of a series of gruesome murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer. Also known in the press as the Milwaukee Cannibal and the Milwaukee Monster, he was one of the most prolific serial killers in US history. Now, with the release of Netflix Monsters: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storejthe killer and his victims, have returned to the forefront of American consciousness.

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monster shot to #1 on Netflix after it premiered on November 21, 2022, and reiterated how obsessed people are with true crime. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, however, the miniseries has drawn more than just viewers. It’s also drawn its share of criticism from people who feel it monster attempts to romanticize Jeffrey Dahmer, played by Evan Peters.

Who was Jeffrey Dahmer and how many people did he kill?

Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer in 1991 booking photos

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1960, Jeffrey Dahmer committed his first murder and dismemberment at age 18, just weeks after graduating from high school. By the time he was arrested in 1991, Dahmer had killed 17 people, all men and boys.

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To be more precise, however, we should say in its time last Arrest. Dahmer was arrested multiple times, primarily for disorderly conduct, including indecent exposure and public intoxication. Alcohol abuse was also a major factor in his life, leading to his being expelled from college and being discharged from the army. Alcohol played a role in virtually every one of his murders, most of which were followed by sexual acts on the body before it was dismembered. The body parts were then disposed of with acid and pulverization.

Dahmer primarily preyed on black men in Milwaukee’s gay community, whom he lured into his apartment with the promise of money in exchange for sex or nude photo sessions. He then drugged his victims with drinks laced with sleeping pills and bludgeoned or strangled them to death. His later murders included necrophilia and cannibalism. Dahmer also preserved body parts, from heads and skulls to entire skeletons.

How was Jeffrey Dahmer caught?

Evan Peters in Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer
Evan Peters in Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer was arrested on July 22, 1991 after his intended victim, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards, fled his home. Edwards then returned with police, who discovered Dahmer’s cache of Polaroid pictures, many of which showed dismembered bodies. Dahmer was arrested after a brief struggle. But it wasn’t until an officer found a human head in the refrigerator that the real horror began to take root.

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Milwaukee police then found three other severed heads in the kitchen and seven skulls in the bedroom. But that was just the beginning. Dahmer’s apartment also contained two human hearts, a frozen torso and organs, two complete skeletons, and two severed hands and penises. The cruel list goes on. And that was just at Dahmer’s house in Milwaukee. The investigation soon expanded to Bath Township, Ohio, where Dahmer spent his formative years. It was there that he murdered and dismembered his first victim in 1978. In 1991, investigators found more than 50 bone fragments scattered around the grounds of the Dahmer family’s former home.

In the weeks following his arrest, Dahmer admitted to each murder and provided the gruesome details to police. He was sentenced to 15 life terms in February 1992. A 16th term was added in May 1992 after Dahmer admitted to the 1978 murder of his first victim, Steven Hicks, in Ohio. That’s a total of 941 years. Ultimately, however, Dahmer served fewer than two before his own life ended.

How did Jeffrey Dahmer die?

Furly Mac as Christopher Scarver in Monsters: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Furly Mac as Christopher Scarver in Monsters: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Dahmer served his first year in prison in solitary confinement. He was then transferred to the general inmate population at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.

Dahmer, a professing born-again Christian, was attacked and injured in the prison chapel in July 1994. Then, on November 28, Dahmer and convicted murderer Jesse Anderson were bludgeoned by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver while the three were on work detail cleaning out the prison gym. Dahmer was pronounced dead an hour later at a nearby hospital. Anderson died two days later.

How accurate is Netflix Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story?

Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleveland in Netflix's Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Niecy Nash as Glenda Cleveland in Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Evan Peter’s appearance in monster Jeffrey Dahmer is certainly spot on. The series is also pretty close to reality in terms of the exact retelling of the events of Dahmer’s life and his many crimes.

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Yes, there are details that have been altered or left out for cinematic effect. For example, Glenda Cleveland, played by Niecy Nash in the series, did not live in the Oxford Apartments. She actually lived in the building next door. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests the dramatization combines aspects of Cleveland with Dahmer neighbor Pamela Bass.

And while Dahmer was working at the Milwaukee Plasma Center, he didn’t bring home a bag of blood to drink, the series reveals. Instead, he told police he tasted blood from a vial on the center’s roof but then spat it out.

why Netflix Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer Is controversial

Scott Paophavihanh as Anouke Sinthasomphone and Khetphet “KP” Phagnasay as Sounthone Sinthasomphone.

It’s one thing to feel guilty every time fictional serial killer Dexter Morgan commits a bloody crime. However, it’s another to in any way lessen Jeffrey Dahmer’s real-life horrors by making him seem likeable. But some accuse that monster to do.

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However, that judgment extends beyond viewers and television critics to the families of Dahmer’s victims. Rita Isbell, Errol Lindsey’s sister, has commented on the adaptation. Her cousin Eric Perry, on the other hand questioned the purpose of the series: “It keeps getting re-traumatized, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

monster is hardly the first television or film project to deal with Dahmer’s life and crimes as a drama or documentary. However, the Netflix series doesn’t sugarcoat his horrific exploits or attempt to rehabilitate his image. Actor Evan Peters does a great job bringing the serial killer to life. The actor portrays Dahmer as a complex and deeply troubled man. This makes the “monster” of the title look like a real person and not just like a newspaper sensation. This is not romanticizing a murderer. Instead, it just tells a story – one that’s all too true.


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Sarah Y. Kim

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