Wendy Patrickus, who was once Jeffrey Dahmer’s defense attorney, talks about working for the serial killer in a new documentary.
Conversations With A Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes will premiere on Netflix on October 7 in the UK and US. Patrickus joined the documentary, directed by Joe Berlinger, to discuss the case and her involvement with Dahmer’s legal team.
At the time she was assigned Dahmer’s case, Patrickus was in her twenties and had just moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Dahmer was arrested in July 1991.
In the documentary, Patrickus recalls being sent to speak with Dahmer by her boss Gerald Boyle, who also worked as Dahmer’s lawyer.
“When I first went in to see him, it was a very small interview room,” she tells the program. “Jeff was sitting at the corner of the table. I was incredibly nervous, because this was something that I felt was way over my head. … I felt like Clarice Starling inside Silence of the Lambs.“
If you haven’t seen this 1991 film by Jonathan Demme, Starling is a fictional FBI trainee in the 1988 adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel of the same name. In both the book and the film, Starling tries to enlist the cooperation of a serial killer Hannibal Lecter to solve another series of murders.
In the new Netflix documentary, Patrickus discusses having to build a relationship with Dahmer in order to carry out 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 then heard on the tape telling Dahmer, “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.”
Dahmer confessed to killing 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1999 and was killed while incarcerated on November 28, 1994.
The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes is the third installment of Netflix Conversations with a killer series, whose first two seasons focused on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, respectively.
It comes out just over two weeks after Ryan Murphy Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storya dramatization of the case.