Original Jeffrey Dahmer Case Reporter Criticizes Inaccurate Netflix Show

A reporter who was there during the original case reveals some of the factual errors of the new hit series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. This series is the latest dramatization of the life and crimes of Dahmer, a Milwaukee native who, in 1991, was discovered to have dismembered and eaten at least seventeen male victims starting in 1978, among many other crimes. The handsome Dahmer would typically seduce his victims before murdering them. The story of this modern serial killer has captured the imaginations of the American public since his discovery, and he has previously been portrayed by quite a few performers including Teen Beach Movie's Ross Lynch in 2017's My Friend Dahmer and Hawkeye star Jeremy Renner in 2002's Dahmer.


Monster, which debuted on Netflix on September 21, is a Ryan Murphy series that casts American Horror Story Evan Peters alum in the title role. The cast also includes Richard Jenkins as Lionel Dahmer, Molly Ringwald as Shari Dahmer, Michael Learned as Catherine Dahmer, and Niecy Nash as his neighbor Glenda Cleveland. The show has been the center of several controversies, including the sister of one of Dahmer's victims calling out the series for re-traumatizing her by recreating her testimony at Dahmer's trial, and backlash from certain groups over Netflix's use of the "LGBTQ" tag on the series. However, in spite of that, Dahmer has become a Netflix hit, landing their fifth most-watched premiere in history.

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Today, Independent ran an article titled interviewing crime reporter Anne E Schwartz about the true facts of the Dahmer case. Schwartz, who wrote the 1991 book Monster: The True Story of the Jeffrey Dahmer Murders, objects to quite a few details of the series, including the incompetence and racism of the police and the direct involvement of Cleveland, saying that "in the first five minutes of the first episode you have Glenda Cleveland knocking on his door. None of that ever happened." She also denied the depiction of Dahmer's apartment as being full of the smell of rot, saying that “I was a crime reporter for five years so I know what it smells like when you walk into a building with a dead body or a decomposing body. This was not that. This was a very chemical smell."

Where Can You Learn the Truth About Jeffrey Dahmer?

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in Monster

Schwartz's critiques seem relatively minor in the scope of the current slate of dramatized true-crime series, which frequently take liberties with the truth. However, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story may be some audiences' first exposure to the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, and those who were intrigued and want to learn the truth should likely look elsewhere to fact-check what they just watched. The most likely sources for this kind of information seem to be the 2012 documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, Schwartz's own book, and the 1992 book Milwaukee Massacre: Jeffrey Dahmer and the Milwaukee Murders by Robert J. Dvorchak and Lisa Holewa.

Considering the typical dramatic flair of Murphy's television series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is still an unusually sober and realistic work. It can't be denied that it fudges the details on certain aspects, including the extent to which Cleveland was involved in the proceedings. However, it uses these details to highlight true elements of the case in a more general sense, particularly the fact that he largely preyed on people of color in Milwaukee, which helped it take much longer for the white establishment to discover his crimes.