The new Netflix series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which offers an account of the infamous "Milwaukee Cannibal" serial killer, is as tragic as it is comprehensive. The series stars Evan Peters in the titular role and documents the life and crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. While the series does not shy away from the gruesome details, it omits certain aspects of Dahmer's childhood, his crimes, and the contents of his infamous apartment.
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and sexually assaulted a total of 17 young men and children, in many cases performing sexual acts upon, and even eating, his victims' bodies. Dahmer committed the majority of these crimes, along with a litany of other sexual misconduct charges, between 1987 and 1991. Netflix's dramatization was created by American Horror Story architect Ryan Murphy, reuniting with cast alumni Evan Peters, who previously portrayed real-life killers in AHS.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story left out certain details about Dahmer's crimes through the process of adaptation. While inevitable in portraying real-life events, some details not included provide deeper insight into the cannibal killer. A prime example is the depiction of the jogger Dahmer stalks. Dahmer does observe the jogger repeatedly, becoming obsessed with the man's bare torso, and he would often hide in order to observe him. Dahmer decides to attack him, in what Dahmer would later call his first sincere attempt at violence. Armed with a baseball bat, Dahmer waits, but, unlike the series, the jogger never appears. Similarly, the series omits the fact Dahmer fantasized about attacking and holding hostage a hitchhiker for three years before manifesting this reality upon his first victim, Steven Hicks. Shifting the point of view away from the serial killer is representative of Murphy's commitment to a fresh perspective, distinguishing American Crime Story from other true crime serial killer shows.
Jeffrey Dahmer's Childhood
As with other serial killers, Dahmer's childhood was plagued by injury and misery. As well as the hernia injury depicted in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Dahmer's legs were in casts for the first four months of his life, and he wore lifts in his shoes until he was six. On top of his mother's mental illness, the family moved around a lot. When he was eight years old, the Dahmer family moved into the home depicted in the series. This was their third home in two years, the parent's sixth since their marriage. In spite of the turbulence, the Dahmers had another child, and Jeffrey was allowed to name his new brother David.
Later, following Dahmer's delight at the sight of bones excavated from his house, Jeffrey would ask his father, Lionel, what would happen if chicken bones were placed in bleach. Lionel, as a chemist, was delighted - believing this to be indicative of Jeffrey's scientific curiosity - and demonstrated how to safely treat the animal bones. Along with the taxidermy techniques depicted in the Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, Jeffrey would apply these preservation methods to his human victims.
When Dahmer was 13, he nailed the carcass of a dog to a tree, impaling its head upon a stick and inviting school friends to marvel at what he claimed he's found. From the age of 14 onward, Dahmer would drink alcohol regularly at school. He often stashed bottles of liquor that he referred to as his "medicine" in an army surplus jacket, recalling Peter's iconic character Tate Langdon in American Horror Story. Despite his poor grades, Dahmer had a considerably high IQ and was an avid tennis player.
The True Brutality of Jeffrey Dahmer's Crimes
Dahmer began sedating his victims, because he disliked movement during sex and sought to perceive his sexual partners as objects. This dehumanization escalated to Dahmer incapacitating his victims in an attempt to create a doting love-slave. Dahmer first applied what he called his "drilling technique" on his 11th victim, Errol Lindsey. After drugging and raping his victims, Dahmer drilled a hole in their skulls and injected a mixture of acid and hot water into the frontal lobe. Some managed to survive the ordeal, but they would still later be killed by Dahmer. During the series, Jeffrey calls Lindsey's family, telling them they should stop looking for him. In real-life, Dahmer made similar calls to many of his victim's families.
The second victim who Dahmer tried his "drilling technique" on was his next victim Tony Hughes, the deaf aspiring model featured in episode 6, "Silenced." In fact, Hughes' dead body is lying prone on Dahmer's floor when police officers halfheartedly inspect his apartment on the night 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone was returned to Dahmer's home. It is Hughes' foot briefly glimpsed in episode 2, "Please Don't Go," which focused on the tragic death of Sinthasomphone.
Jeffrey Dahmer's House of Horrors
Gruesome details abound in many of Netflix's true crime shows, such as I Just Killed My Dad. Particularly dreadful, however, was the seemingly endless list of body parts removed from Dahmer's house. The depiction in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, incidentally, utilized the actual news archive footage which showed the removal of human remains. The Hazardous Materials Team that did so were not police officers but an outside contracted company. The men who infamously carried the blue barrel down the stairs were only 18 at the time, undoubtedly extending the trauma Dahmer had inflicted on his community.
Inside of Dahmer's apartment, police found an altar that he was building, purportedly in honor of himself - to make a place where he could "feel at home." Seven of his victims' skulls were flaked by two complete skeletons, planned to be adorned across the table on which Dahmer photographed their bodies. Dahmer intended to add the skulls of the four severed heads found in his refrigerator upon his capture. Dahmer was seeking a total of 12 skulls; of his 17 victims, Dahmer had collected 11.
AHS regular Evan Peters is no stranger to tragic, brutal roles. The greatest tragedy in the story of Jeffrey Dahmer is how it could have been prevented. Following his sexual assault charges, Dahmer was assigned a parole officer who was supposed to visit him twice a month but never did. On the evening Sinthasomphone was returned to Dahmer, other emergency services were present and believed he needed medical treatment, but they were dismissed by the Milwaukee Police Department. Many of the subsequent tragedies could have been avoided.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a brutal, yet thorough account of Jeffrey Dahmer's life and crimes, but it also tenderly tells victims' stories, and that of their families. Murphy's intention to center victims and survivors led to these facets being left out of the adaptation, but their consideration reveals more of Jeffrey Dahmer's horrific story in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.