Telling the truth. Jeffrey Dahmer’s victim’s family spoke out about the two new Netflix shows about the serial killer. Rita Isbell, sister of Errol Lindsey who was one of the last victims of Dahmer, wrote an essay for Insider about how she and her family were impacted by the show.
During Dahmer’s sentencing in 1992, Isbell gave a victim impact statement when the killer was given 15 consecutive life sentences. The Ryan Murphy-created show Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story recreated the moment on screen and Isbell’s statement word-for-word. “When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said,” she wrote in an essay for Insider. “If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.” She also clarified that Netflix did not contact her for the show. “I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children. … The victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless. It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”
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Lindsey’s cousin, Eric Perry also posted about how the show negatively affected their family. “I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show,” he posted on Twitter. “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need? Like, recreating my cousin having an emotional breakdown in court in the face of the man who tortured and murdered her brother is WILD. WIIIIIILD.” In a follow-up tweet, he argued that the family did not know about the whole show’s production. “To answer the main question, no, they don’t notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone. My family found out when everyone else did. So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them. My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
Lindsey was one of Dahmer’s 17 gruesomely murdered victims. In 1992, Dahmer pleaded guilty to the rape, murder, dismemberment and partial consumption of multiple victims. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences in 1992 but only lived to serve three years. When news broke that Dahmer was killed in prison, Isbell said she had anticipated Dahmer’s death. The New York Times reported that for two years, she had received phone calls from men claiming to be prison inmates promising Dahmer would “be taken care of.” She said the callers told her: “You don’t know me. I’m up here with Jeffrey Dahmer. Don’t worry. We’ll take care of it.” She continued, “I wouldn’t say I wanted it to happen like this, but Jeffrey tore my family up.”
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story and Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes are available to stream on Netflix.
For more about Jeffrey Dahmer, check out Jack Rosewood’s Jeffrey Dahmer: A Terrifying True Story of Rape, Murder & Cannibalism. The biography—which is a part of Rosewood’s The Serial Killer Books series—tells the true-crime story of Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer, a serial killer who terrorized Milwaukee, Wisconsin and murdered more than a dozen people (not to mention committed acts of necrophilia and cannibalism) throughout the 1980s until his eventual arrest in 1991. The book explains how Dahmer, who had an above-average intellect and is described as “conventionally good-looking,” was able to fool everyone around him, including his family, his neighbors and the police, to avoid capture for so many years. Jeffrey Dahmer: A Terrifying True Story of Rape, Murder & Cannibalism also takes readers through Dahmer’s murder trial, his death at the hands of his fellow inmates and how his crimes rocked Milwaukee for decades to come.
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