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Families Of Dahmer’s Victims Retraumatized By True Crime Netflix Series



Dahmer Victims Families Upset By Netflix Series
Lawyer Thomas Jacobson with clients, including Rita Isbell. Image source: Steve Kagan, Getty Images.

From 1978 to 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer assaulted, cannibalized, and murdered 17 young men. However, a lesser-known fact is most of his victims were young queer, Black, and Asian men. 

Netflix’s new true-crime series “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” co-created and written by Ryan Murphy, is calling attention to this fact. However, the families of the victims are not happy about it.

Errol Lindsey was Dahmer’s last victim before his 1991 arrest. In an interview with Insider, his sister, Rita Isbell, said that Netflix never contacted her family about the show. 

Furthermore, she said the series was Netflix’s way of capitalizing on tragedy. Even more heartbreaking, Isbell revealed her brother got someone pregnant before his death. Not only is Errol a father, but also a grandfather. 

The victims have children and grandchildren. Isbell said the show wouldn’t be so bad if the victim’s children got paid for it. “If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless,” said Isbell. But this is just the tip of the often exploitative true-crime iceberg.

Has True Crime Gone Too Far?

Ryan Murphy’s take on the Dahmer murders isn’t the first, and given the popularity of true crime, it might not be the last. According to IMDb, there are at least five movies about Dahmer and multiple podcasts and TV specials about his crimes. 

And this is just one of America’s most famous killers. The true crime community has lately received criticism online for being insensitive and exploiting other people’s traumas. Especially since this media is often sensationalized, avoids criticism of police negligence, and is monetized. 

Fans of this content also caught backlash for their reactions to the Netflix series. Some expressed empathy for Dahmer, and others made insensitive jokes about the victims.

The ethics of true crime as entertainment has been questioned in recent years. Recently, celebs like Whoopi Goldberg and Boosie came out against the series. However, there’s no clear-cut solution. Some people watch true crime to stay informed. Some tend to because of their morbid fascination with death. 

Part of the issue is also which cases get the most attention. While white women represent all crime victims in American media, Indigenous and Black women are left out of the picture.

There is hope, however. As the popularity of the genre increases, so are the calls to change how these cases are covered. Though, it might be a while before media companies start prioritizing the victims and their families.

Written by Kimberly Stelly | Instagram | Twitter

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Kimberly Stelly is an award-winning journalist and cartoonist from the Bay Area. In addition to FM Hip-Hop, she writes for ScreenRant and manages social media for

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