Dahmer Documentary Takes a Bite out of Milwaukee Police

Oct 10, 2022

Joe Berlinger’s dark documentary, The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, is out on Netflix, and it is as dark as you might think.

For the first time we can hear Jeffrey Dahmer’s own voice, a matter-of-fact tone that talks about drugging, killing, and dismembering people as he terrorized mostly gay, black men in Milwaukee.

Front and centre inside the excruciating details of the film are a few instances where Milwaukee police had questioned Dahmer; once when they pulled him over with a dismembered body in garbage bags in the back seat, and once when they were called after one of his victims, a 14-year-old boy, was found naked and drugged outside Dahmer’s apartment. Dahmer had drilled a hole in the boy’s head and poured in hydrochloric acid, in an apparent attempt to keep his victim docile for as long as possible before he murdered him.

Police eventually handed the 14-year-old boy back to Dahmer, who took him back inside his apartment and killed him. Two black, female witnesses at the scene were adamant with police that the young man was in fact a child, but the police believed Dahmer’s story – that the boy was 19, and his boyfriend.

If the police would have run Dahmer’s name in their computer system, they would have known he was on parole at the time for committing a sex crime against a 13-year-old boy. Additionally, when the police returned the young boy to Dahmer’s apartment, they failed to notice a dead body lying on Dahmer’s bed.

I recently had Anne E. Schwartz, one of the first reporters to break the story of Dahmer, on Blackballed. Her account was compelling, and she is also featured in Berlinger’s documentary. During the podcast I asked about the other Dahmer movie, the dramatic series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, and inquired about the role of the police. In the film, the police were depicted as racist and anti-gay, a believable depiction given it was 1991 in Milwaukee, a city known for being segregated by race.

The film implied that it wasn’t just the police who were racist, but Dahmer himself.

To her credit, Schwartz said that Dahmer’s preferred victims were indicative of what he found attractive – black and brown men. But she also thought the depiction of a bumbling police force was overblown.

But in the documentary, recorded police tapes reveal two officers laughing and talking about going back to the station to delouse, inferring that they thought spending time with two gay individuals was too much for them.

When the media reported on the police handing the young victim back to Dahmer, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson led protests throughout Milwaukee. To the black communities, there were two breaches that centered around race; ignoring the witnesses who tried to tell police that the young boy they gave back to Dahmer was underage, and the fact that the vast majority of Dahmer’s 17 victims were black.

The documentary spent a great deal of time remarking on how little the police seemed to care about gay, black men being reported missing. Almost no one who frequented the bar Dahmer used to find his victims were ever questioned. Dahmer himself said he was attracted to the people he killed, and did not kill them because he hated them, but because he “Wanted them to stay with him.”

The most chilling facet of Dahmer’s voice is how little emotion he expresses, and also his lack of defensiveness. He seemed to know what he was – an evil, violent sociopath who was addicted to having sex with corpses, and eating their flesh. He said he even drank blood and enjoyed it.

Jeffrey Dahmer was baptized in prison on May 10th, 1994. It was the same day another notorious serial killer, John  Wayne Gacy, was executed. Dahmer was murdered in prison by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver on November 28th, 1994.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is currently playing on Netflix.

Contributing Writers

Related stories