Dahmer, Bundy, Ramirez: How Many More Do We Need?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

You know their names: Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore ‘Ted’ Bundy, and Richard Ramirez, but what about the names of their victims? Are we not, as a whole, just continuously giving in to the attention and fame these killers craved by producing so many documentaries and series about the same killers, forgetting the many hurt and lives lost because of their actions? 


Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer and convicted sex offender charged with five crimes and sentenced to life in prison. Between the years 1978-1991, Dahmer drugged, killed, consumed, and dismembered 17 young men and boys, the majority being Black and Brown men; 

Steven Mark Hicks

Steven Walter Tuomi

James Edward Doxtator

Richard Guerrero

Anthony Lee Sears

Raymond Lamont Smith

Edward Warren Smith

Ernest Marquez Miller

David Courtney Thomas

Curtis Durrell Straughter

Errol Lindsey

Tony Anthony Hughes

Konerak Sinthasomphone

Matt Cleveland Turner

Jeremiah Benjamin Weinberger

Oliver Joseph Lacy

Joseph Arthur Bradehoft


Dahmer always knew something deeply disturbed and wrong with him at a young age, with his interest in taxidermy and his love of seeing organs outside their particular host. His psychological makeup stems from the type of childhood he endured. His parents raised him in a low-income household where the parents constantly fought throughout his childhood. He saw this toxicity and blamed himself for that. While his parents continued to fight, he turned to the one thing his father taught him to do, taxidermy. Dahmer was fascinated with this practice, especially the flesh and gut part of it all, where the obsession kept building inside of him. He became this very introverted, socially awkward kid growing up with no friends and kept to himself if he wasn’t trying to entertain his classmates with what they called “Doing the Dahmer,” where he would make them laugh through funny voices and actions. He felt neglected by his parents, especially his mother, who left him alone for a whole summer. Many believe this stems from the need never to want his victims to leave him. Many psychologists and psychiatrists felt Dahmer was a healthy-minded individual who experienced outward symptoms of mental disorders. For instance, Digital Mafia Talkies discusses how Dahmer was diagnosed with splanchnophilia, a condition in which a person feels attracted to human organs and flesh.


This urge overpowered him, despite being arrested for assaulting a Laotian teenager at his grandmother’s home. You saw this compulsion with later victim Tony Hughes, a young model who was deaf and mute, who Dahmer tried to drug several times as seen in new series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story


Director Ryan Murphy is known for his role as co-producer for the anthology series American Horror Story. He made it his goal to tell the stories of victims like Tony Hughes, murdered by Jeffrey Dahmer. American Horror Story star Evan Peters portrays Jeffrey Dahmer in new series by Murphy, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, where it shows the perspective of the victims and not just the police incompetence that went into trying to catch Dahmer but how much the Black community was greatly affected by these traumatic events.


The series follows Dahmer as the events unfold, leading to him being caught when one of his victims manages to escape, flashing back from past and present to not only truly get inside his mind but how much of a mark he left on this world and how one neighbor tried to the police about her suspicions but was blatantly ignored. 


The neighbor, Glenda Cleveland, who, despite being ignored by police time and time again, was right about every instinct she had about Dahmer and the type of criminal activities he was up to holding up in his apartment alone. According to Mashable, Glenda was one of many siblings raised by her parents with the importance of family and community, remembering to help someone if you see them struggling, and always telling the truth. Ms. Cleveland lived in Milwaukee alone, with her teenage daughter working and caring for her small family. One detail the series missed was that Ms. Cleveland was not directly Dahmer’s next-door neighbor but was another Black woman who Dahmer brought over the ‘meat’ sandwiches for. The series seemed to blend some of the characteristics of both into Glenda’s story. In May of 1991, Cleveland’s daughter and niece stumbled upon a 14-year-old Laotion boy dazed, confused, and talking incoherently from Dahmer’s apartment. So, they contacted local authorities to come and check it out. Still, they did not take the situation seriously despite clearly seeing that he needed help and was a minor because Dahmer said that was his 19-year-old boyfriend with a drinking problem. They did not thoroughly check out the case as their job calls for, ignoring not only a call for help by a child but from a worried community whose instincts were right from the start—resulting in the police walking the victim back into the hands of Dhamer to be murdered shortly after. Cleveland pleaded with the officers to check out the situation further but kept dismissing it because it was a “lover-dispute”. Still, being the worried citizen she was, she called again to check on the situation. The call follows the police officers who responded to the scene again to dismiss the case by saying it was handled in the TikTok video of the call. If the police did follow up on not only the victims’ age but who Dahmer was. They would have found Dahmer being in the system for molestation of the older brother of the victim some years earlier. 


After some time, there were talks of this boy missing, and Dahmer managed to kill five more victims after Cleveland’s multiple attempts to bring this to the police’s attention for months. First, Cleveland complained to the building superintendent about a pungent smell that smells like rotten meat. Then, she would hear what sounded like two people arguing and struggling in a commotion at night. Some nights there were screams and machinery going on at different night hours. Despite all of this, the police never took any of her claims seriously until one fateful night when victim Tracy Edwards managed to escape, which led to Dahmer’s arrest on July 22, 1991. Edwards, per DailyMail, who was 31 years old at the time, much like his other victims, Dahmer lured him with the promise of money and a good time in exchange for taking photos of them. Edwards agreed and went back to his apartment with him. As the night unfolded, he explained, “His three-room apartment was clean and neat, with a beige carpet and couch in the living room area,’ said Edwards. “’I talked him into taking me back to the living room, but on the way, we stopped in the kitchen, where he opened the refrigerator to reveal a bloody mass of flesh inside.” When Edwards tried to leave, Dahmer drugged and handcuffed him to the bed with a knife threatening him. Dahmer then proceeded to force Edwards to watch the film The Exorcist while he stroked a human head in front of Edwards. A detail the series missed when telling Tracy Edward’s story. After managing to escape by punching Dahmer in the jaw, he fled the building and flagged down a police car leading them back to Dahmer’s place, where they finally found all the evidence of what he had been getting away from for over a few years. Today, Tracy Edwards collected a wrap sheet of being accused of homicide, theft, drug dealings, and even domestic violence. 


The series wraps with Dahmer serving his sentence in prison, seeing the aftermath of his criminal actions when one of Dahmer’s inmates, Christopher Scarver, who, on November 28, 1994, took it upon himself to kill Dahmer. MSN reportedly killed Dahmer because Dahmer used to taunt multiple inmates by making his food look like the dead limbs of his past victims and putting them in places he knew people would see. “He would put them in places where people would be,” Scarver told the New York Post. “He crossed the line with some people — prisoners, prison staff. Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them.”Scarver felt Daghmer made the inmates even more uncomfortable because they knew the horror of his crimes, especially against young black boys and men, but did not seem to care. When confronting Dahmer, Scarver tried to get him to explain if and why he committed such horrific crimes to young men of color, then bludgeoned Dahmer with a metal bar. Jeffrey Dahmer’s cause of death was brain trauma from the skull fractures Scarver gave him.


The families of victims’ portrayed in the show are angry that the series brought up old traumatizing feelings of grief.  According to Mashable, family members spoke up about how they felt about the series, some of whom did not even know their loved ones would be featured in the show prior to its release.  “I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge, but if you’re curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show,” tweeted Eric Perry. He says he is a cousin of Errol Lindsey. Lindsey was 19 when Dahmer murdered him in 1991. “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” 


The families acknowledged the perspective the show was taking was needed, but they just wished they were in the know about it all. “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we minded or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it…If the show benefited them somehow, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless,” Isbell said. “It’s sad that [Netflix is] just making money off this tragedy. That’s just greed.” Even the crew working on the show felt that on set, despite the message the series was trying to show, there was racial discrimination and no respect with a project involving the Black community. “It was one of the worst shows I’ve ever worked on” as a Black woman, Alsup added, reiterating the claim that she was one of only two Black crew members below the line on “Dahmer” — and that she was regularly mistaken for the other. “I was always being called someone else’s name, the only other Black girl who looked nothing like me, and I learned the names for 300 background extras,” stated Production assistant Kim Alsup, who tweeted her thoughts, reported by LA Times. Alsup eventually saw her experience improve during production on Episode 6, “Silenced,” but nonetheless felt this air of discrimination. Netflix refused to respond to her claims at that time. 


Dahmer and his horrific story are told repeatedly in documentaries like Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, movies like My Friend Dahmer told from the perspective of his close school friend, and this new Netflix series telling the stories of his victims. This obsession among true crime advocates of this need to know why someone like Dahmer did what he did has been sound to take away that step of courtesy and respect the victims’ families should have and always have. Releasing new series like this one without letting the victims’ families know brings up feelings and grief they are still trying to heal from. After their loved ones’ lives were taken from them, they and their families had no privacy to grieve in private and now have to deal with the anniversary of Dahmer’s crimes in the media all over again.


 Dahmer and his actions were reduced to memes and over-popularized TikTok dances. Still, artists like Katy Perry and Ke$ha, who put his criminal activities in their songs that became popular, are falling under criticism. Katy Perry’s song ‘Dark Horse’ featuring Juicy J mentions the lyrics, “Uh, she’s a beast/I call her Karma (come back)/She eats your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer (whoa!)/Be careful/Try not to lead her on (mm)” and Ke$ha’s song ‘Cannibal’ mentions lyrics, “And for dessert, I’ll suck your teeth/Be too sweet, and you’ll be a goner/(Yeah) I’ll pull a Jeffrey Dahmer.” Both songs became popular on the charts but resurfaced once the new series emerged. Making people realize what the lyrics were pointing to, causing outrage that artists should apologize for such offensive lyrics. Others say, especially over TikTok, that many knew about Dahmer and his crimes when hearing the songs. Still, not long ago, many were using Ke$ha’s song for a TikTok dance trend, despite many knowing who he was and his crimes. But now that the series is out, those same people want to find a problem with the situation when they did not come to the defense of any of the victims’ families for exploitation because it was a ‘dance trend.’Where was the respect, then, when trying to get a view for a TikTok?


Society should always respect and courtesy when it comes to people’s loved ones and their lives affected by such traumatic events. It is quite alright to educate one’s elf on such cases that tackle police incompetence and systemic racism in a time where a continuous battle to be heard was still happening in the Black community, but remember they are people too, just not facts and data to be looked constantly under a microscope. Ryan Murphy went in with the right intention, knowingly or unknowingly though he added to the problem. The problem of how many victims’ families suffer in the face of the media, for all they went through to be boiled down to a TV series to be binged watched. Not considering that most of the victim’s families were from the Black community, they had to face more challenges than a white victim and their family would face. Families of color are less likely to believe crimes were happening to them and even less likely their perpetrators are brought to justice. Not to mention, much like this case, the families of the victims weren’t asked permission to be used for the series, and there was no talk of any proceeds Netflix is making that will go to the families. Instead, they got retraumatized from the events being retold without their permission. Not to mention constant memes and TikToks about Dahmer, once again crossing the line of respect and courtesy to fellow human beings still trying to grieve.