Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes – Highlights from the Netflix documentary

Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapesa new documentary on the Jeffrey Dahmer case, airs on Netflix from October 7.

Based on audio tapes of conversations between Dahmer and his defense team, the three-part documentary retraces Dahmer’s crimes, his arrest in July 1991 and his conviction on multiple counts of murder.

After his arrest, Dahmer confessed to killing 17 boys and men between 1978 and 1991. He was sentenced to life in prison and was killed while incarcerated in 1994.

The new Netflix documentary includes shocking contributions from people who interacted with Dahmer and his victims. One participant remembers the people Dahmer killed as “beautiful souls,” while a neighbor of Dahmer recounts trying to confront him and feeling “ridiculous” when Dahmer was revealed to be a serial killer.

Here are some of the highlights Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes:

Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims were just ‘trying to find themselves’

Michael Ross, who knew Jeffrey Dahmer and many of his victims, remembers the men killed in the documentary.

“We all came to who we are, accepting ourselves,” he says at one point. “Many of these people were beautiful souls.”

He adds later: “It saddens me every time I think of one of these gentlemen. Because like everyone at that time, they were trying to find themselves. They didn’t expect to be killed.”

Dahmer’s victims, as recorded by the Desert News and USA Todaywere Ricky Beeks, Joseph Bradehoft, Jamie Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, Steven Hicks, Anthony Hughes, Oliver Lacy, Errol Lindsey, Ernest Miller, Anthony Sears, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Eddie Smith, Curtis Straughter, David Thomas, Steven Turner, Matt and Jeremy Weinberger.

Law enforcement failures

The documentary raises the question of how Dahmer was able to murder so many people over the course of so many years without being caught despite being a convicted sex offender.

“I was often in bars. Nobody asked me about anybody,” says Michael Ross. “I had no police officer, no detective come up to me and say, ‘What do you know about this person or this person?’ This wasn’t a few months or a few weeks. This went on for years.”

Ross is one of several panelists who point to the fact that most of Dahmer’s victims were young, gay men of color. “If the victims were white and straight, the investigation would be more in-depth, more specific,” he tells the program.

The documentary specifically looks at the case of Konerak Sinthasomphone, a 14-year-old boy who managed to escape from Dahmer’s apartment but was sent back with Dahmer after the police arrived.

Crocker Stephenson, who was a reporter for the Milwaukee Sentinelrecounts how “two young women interceded” in an attempt to protect the boy.

“Two 18-year-old black girls, they’re protecting him from Dahmer,” he says. “The police don’t listen to these girls. They didn’t even get their names. They kept telling them to be quiet, that they would be arrested if they kept talking.”

Glenda Cleveland, who lived in the area, can be heard calling the police to press the matter, to no avail. “How old was that child?” he asks at one point. When told he’s an “adult,” she insists, “Are you sure?” Then in Cleveland they say “everything is taken care of.”

“People say [the police] they were just doing their job, they were just doing the best they could – that falls far short of what they should have done,” says Stephenson. “If they had said his name, they would have found him [Dahmer] he was on probation for assaulting a Laotian boy who turned out to be Konerak’s brother. How is this possible?’

The neighbors tried to find out the truth

The documentary also features Vernell Bass, who lived in the same building as Dahmer with his wife Pamela Bass.

He says that one night, he was awakened by a “horrible smell” around 2:30 a.m., after which he covered the bottom of his door with a towel and went back to bed. According to Bass, his wife went to investigate the smell and determined it was coming from Dahmer’s apartment.

Dahmer was later discovered to be storing the remains of some of his victims inside his home.

“She got a lawn chair and sat in our apartment with the door open, waiting for Jeff to come home,” Bass says of his wife. “When he came home, he confronted him about the smell.”

Bass says Dahmer claimed his freezer had stopped working. Dahmer is heard recounting the same episode on an audio tape of a conversation between himself and his defense attorney Wendy Patrickus.

“I told them it was just the freezer flashing,” Dahmer says on the recording.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s booking photo as featured in “Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes”

(Netflix © 2022)

Jeffrey Dahmer’s defense in court

Dahmer’s defense attorneys Gerald Boyle and Wendy Patricks appear in the documentary, explaining in part how they approached their work during Dahmer’s trial.

Dahmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of murder. This meant that a jury did not have a duty to determine whether he could be considered to have committed the crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather to determine whether he could be held responsible for his actions.

“My task and my goal was to prove that he was insane when he committed this offense,” Boyle says in the documentary.

Dr. Fred Berlin, a forensic psychiatrist who testified for the defense, is another participant in the documentary.

“In my professional view, Mr. Dahmer lacked substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law,” he says. “I believed at the time that he met the legal requirements for an insanity defense, and I still do today.”

Dr. Berlin later adds that if Dahmer is not considered to have a “psychiatric disorder,” “then I don’t know what we mean by psychiatric illness.”

Wendy Patrickus and Jeffrey Dahmer in “Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes”

(Netflix © 2022)

Dahmer’s lawyer to build a relationship with him

Wendy Patrickus, who also worked on Dahmer’s defense, discusses having to build a relationship with Dahmer in order to perform her duties as a lawyer.

“To be a good defense attorney, you have to be nonjudgmental and develop trust,” he says. “He called me Wendy and I called him Jeff.”

He is heard on the tape telling Dahmer during one of their first conversations: “It’s okay, Jeff. I mean, don’t be ashamed of it. Am I making you uncomfortable?’

“No,” Dahmer replies. “We have to deal with it, so… It’s so weird, isn’t it? It’s not… It’s not easy to talk. It’s something I’ve kept buried inside me for many years and it’s like trying to pull a two-ton stone out of a well.”

Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes will premiere on Netflix on October 7 in the US and UK

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