The newest rendition of the crimes of American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, released on on September 21, has gripped viewers across the world with its graphic depictions of his life. explores what the show got wrong, and the stranger-than-fiction details that are actually true.
The Netflix series, starring acclaimed actor Evan Peters, reportedly had the best opening week in the streaming platforms’ history and is currently the number one TV show in over 60 countries.
Ryan Murphy’s graphic depiction of Dahmer’s life has evidently captured public interest, but it’s not the first time the serial killer’s crimes have been taken to .
So far, five films have dramatised Dahmer’s life, with Peters’ MCU co-star Jeremy Renner also having played the killer in 2002’s Dahmer.
Despite its constant retellings on-screen, Ryan Murphy’s series has been hailed as the most accurate depiction yet, with viewers labelling it “disturbing” and “revolting” while described the series as “almost unwatchably queasy”.
The series is based on the real events and people involved with Jeffrey Dahmer but does not claim to be a documentary. Rather, it is a biographical crime drama, meaning some details have been slightly distorted to make a more compelling and cohesive storyline.
Evan Peters plays Jeffrey Dahmer in the new Netflix mini-series
Dahmer reportedly admitted that he had been pulled over with human remains in his car but was let go
For instance, Glenda Cleveland is portrayed as Dahmer’s neighbour in the Oxford Apartments and plays a pivotal role in getting him caught.
While the real-life Cleveland did attempt to help 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone as she does in the series, she was not the killer’s neighbour.
Cleveland lived in an apartment complex nearby and Dahmer’s actual neighbour, Pamela Bass, also reportedly caught on to his crimes. The character in the series was reportedly created by combining the experiences of the two women.
In the show, Dahmer offers Cleveland a suspicious sandwich which she vehemently refuses to eat, and he did in fact do this with his real neighbour Bass.
The murderer offered Bass a sandwich once, which she tragically accepted, and in the 2012 documentary, The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, she admitted: “I have probably eaten someone’s body part.”
The real Dahmer reportedly didn’t wear his glasses in court to avoid seeing the people around him
The series also depicts Dahmer drinking bags of donated blood whilst working at the Milwaukee Plasma Centre. While he did work at the centre, he reportedly only tried a small vial of blood once and spat it out immediately.
The series has also seemingly frustrated viewers as the police continuously get so close to catching Dahmer before he goes on to murder more young men.
Shockingly, most of these encounters are true. In a jailhouse interview in 1993, Dahmer told that he once had human remains in the back of his car when he was pulled over by the police but convinced them to let him drive away.
The devastating near-escape of Sinthasomphone is also tragically true.
Dahmer experimented on his victims in an attempt to create what he described as a “zombie-like state” by drilling holes into their skulls and injecting acid into them while they were still alive according to .
Miraculously, Sinthasomphone survived this and escaped the apartment, naked, bloodied and highly disorientated, and ran into some neighbours who called the police.
The police interviewed Dahmer and took Sinthasomphone back to the apartment he had just escaped from. The officers accepted Dahmer’s explanation that the young boy was just his drunk, adult lover and swiftly left.
After his arrest, Dahmer revealed that at the time he had another body in his bedroom and murdered Sinthasomphone shortly after the officers left.
Ronald Flowers, who escaped Dahmer thanks to the intervention of the killer’s grandmother, has only ever given one interview about his near-death experience in the documentary Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster.
Tragically, this also includes the fact that when he reported that he was almost killed by Dahmer, the police allegedly told him: “It’s his word against your word”.
Dahmer and Gacy are often associated with each other due to their similarly gruesome crimes
One creative costuming choice in the series sees Peters wear Dahmers signature glasses throughout the court trial and sentencing, whereas the real murderer only wore them during his sentencing.
His stepmother, Shari Dahmer who Molly Ringwald plays, told Inside Edition that he didn’t wear them during the trial “so that he can’t see people. He panics”.
After his sentencing, the series follows Dahmer in jail where he watches another serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, get interviewed on television. Gacy was later executed by lethal injection on the same day Dahmer got baptised.
The two never met in-person and in a 1992 interview with CBS 2, Gacy stated his dislike for being grouped with Dahmer.
When asked to comment on Dahmer’s arrest earlier that year, Gacy deflected saying: “Whether it’s Berkowits, whether it’s Bundy, whether it’s Wayne Williams or Charlie Manson. I don’t comment on other cases for the simple fact that I wasn’t there. I hate when they put me in the same club with them.”
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to stream on Netflix.