TNetflix’s new Jeffrey Dahmer series sacrificed accuracy in favor of drama, according to the journalist who first published the sensational story more than three decades ago.
Anne E. Schwartz narrates The Independent that the filmmakers behind it Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer took an “artistic license” with many important details, saying the series “didn’t bear much resemblance to the facts of the case.”
“When people see Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, that’s awful.’ I want to tell them it didn’t necessarily end that way,” she said.
Ms. Schwartz worked as a crime reporter for the Milwaukee Journal In 1991, when she received a call from a police source telling her that she had found a human head and body parts in a city apartment.
Ms Schwartz rushed to the scene and said she arrived to find only a couple of police officers there and entered the Oxford Apartments building to take a closer look.
“I went to Dahmer’s apartment and kind of stuck my head in there because you’re a journalist, you want to know that,” she said The Independent.
“I think the weird thing was that it didn’t look weird.”
She said officers slowly began to understand the size of the crime scene when they discovered Polaroids Dahmer took of his victims at various stages of dismemberment.
“They didn’t know what they found,” she said.
“I was a crime reporter for five years, so I know what it smells like when you walk into a building with a dead body or a decomposing body. It wasn’t. It was a very chemical smell.”
Monsters: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story trailer
Ms. Schwartz, who later worked in communications for the Milwaukee Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said the portrayal of city police officers as racist and homophobic was wrong.
“I spent a lot of time with them and interviewed the people who were at the crime scene. Again, that’s a dramatization, but at a time when it’s not exactly easy for law enforcement to gain trust and buy in from the community, it’s not a very helpful portrayal.”
In the Netflix series, Glenda Cleveland, who tried to alert the police to Dahmer’s killing spree, is portrayed as living in a neighboring apartment. In reality, Ms. Cleveland, who died in 2011, lived in a separate building.
“In the first five minutes of the first episode, Glenda Cleveland knocks on his door. None of that ever happened,” says Ms. Schwartz.
“I had trouble with the buy-in because I knew it wasn’t correct. But people don’t watch it like that, they watch it for entertainment.”
After publishing a bestseller about the case in 1991, The man who couldn’t kill enoughMs Schwartz said she received a call from Dahmer in the newsroom at a television station where she worked to complain.
Several psychiatrists who interviewed Dahmer told Ms. Schwartz that his behavior could be attributed to his parents.
“He hated that. For someone who didn’t show emotion or didn’t seem to care, he was very protective of his parents, especially his mother,” she said The Independent.
The call was made “very quickly and to the point”.
“He had no tone of voice in his voice. He was so vanilla, he was so flat. There was nothing. He just said no one was responsible for what I expected of myself.”
Ms Schwartz said Dahmer was very “smart” in choosing his victims. He spoke to them extensively in bars and on the streets to hunt down marginalized men whose disappearance didn’t raise alarm bells.
This, along with his gruesome body elimination techniques, helped him get away with murdering 17 boys and men before his crimes were discovered.
Also, victims of crime in the Milwaukee gay community in the 1980s and early ’90s rarely reported crimes to the police for fear of being exposed to family or employers, she said.
After the killings drew national and international attention, people began to turn up at the Oxford Apartments in search of souvenirs.
When Dahmer’s home was razed that year, some tried to take away bricks and pieces of earth, and the lot remains empty to this day, surrounded by high fences.
While the Dahmer series broke Netflix’s week-one record for most watched hours, Ms. Schwartz says Milwaukee is “absolutely done hearing about the case.”
“People in Milwaukee think this is a terrible flaw in the city, they don’t want people to think about it.”
Last year Ms. Schwartz wrote an updated version of the 1991 book and re-interviewed the main characters to collect their thoughts 30 years later.
Her new book, which came out last October, Monsters: The True Story of the Jeffrey Dahmer Murders.
* Monsters: The True Story of the Jeffrey Dahmer Murders was published by Union Square Publishing and is available on Amazon.
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