Rita Isbell, Sister of Jeffrey Dahmer Victim, Talks About Netflix Show

  • A clip from Netflix’s “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” depicts Rita Isbell giving her victim impact statement.
  • Isbell gave the statement at Dahmer’s sentencing in 1992, but did not appear on the Netflix show.
  • This is her story about the statement, which has gone viral, as she told reporter Kelsey Vlamis.

This is an essay based on a conversation with Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims. Isbell’s emotional victim impact statement, delivered to the court at her 1992 sentencing, was recreated in the new Netflix show, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” The essay has been edited for length and clarity.

When I found out I could read a victim impact statement, I knew I was going to let Jeffrey Dahmer take it. I just didn’t know what to say.

I hadn’t written anything. If I had, I would have torn it up anyway. It wouldn’t have been read. It was my first time in front of him. Whatever I thought I was going to say, I didn’t. Everything came out instantly.

My plans were to go up there and say how my mother felt and what it did to her and all that other stuff. But no, when I came in front of his face it was a whole new ball game. I recognized the evil. I was face to face with pure evil.

I wasn’t scared. It’s not me at all. I never had a scared bone in my body. I believe he knew it too. And then I got angry because he wasn’t looking at me.

The reason I said what I said during that impact statement was because, during the trial, he was portrayed as being so out of control that he couldn’t stop himself. But you have to be in control to do the things he did. You have to be very in control.

So I said, “Let me show you what’s out of control. This is out of control.” I was out of body. I wasn’t myself at that moment.

Whatever I had inside, I let it out. I didn’t keep it and later said, “Oh, I wish I had said that or done that when I had the chance.” And I think I was speaking for many of the other family members of the victims.

The policemen who pulled me away were very nice to me. They asked me if I needed water. I told them I have a headache and they offered me painkillers. They were understanding. And right after that we walked out of the courtroom and there was all this news that rushed me. I didn’t even get to collect it.

I don’t need to see it, I lived it

When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name on the screen and this lady saying exactly what I said.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was me. Her hair was like mine, she wore the same clothes. So it felt like I was reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I felt back then.

I never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should ask if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did.

But I’m not hungry for money, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.

I could even understand if they gave some of the money to the children of the victims. Not necessarily their families. I mean, I’m old. I am very, very comfortable. But the victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, I wouldn’t feel so cruel and careless.

It is sad that they are just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.

The episode with me was the only part I saw. I didn’t watch the whole show. I don’t need to watch it. I lived it. I know exactly what happened.

Now I can talk about it without so much anger

This anger held me for a long time. I didn’t have the wisdom then that I have now. But I had to make sense of this thing and deal with it. I had younger children to care for and protect. I still had to go to work every day.

As time goes on, I can handle almost anything. I still have one life. I still have my health. I have children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with over the years.

Now I can talk about anything. I don’t want to leave my answers, questions, opinions, how I feel, any of it, especially if I can help. If what I say can help someone else, even myself, then yes.

The show bringing up old feelings did hurt, but it also benefits me. I benefit from it because I can deal with it differently today than in the past. I can talk about it with not so much anger.

I’m still learning how to forgive, even if I don’t understand, and move on with my life. I can’t change other people or things that have happened. I can only change myself.

My brother was a dad and a grandfather

Errol will always be alive in my spirit. And then his daughter. I have to keep him alive so I can talk to her about him.

The upside of this is that people didn’t know my brother had kids. This has never been discussed in public, but she had become pregnant before his death. Today he is exactly 31 years old and this happened 31 years ago.

It’s not about me anymore, it’s about her. So when my name is mentioned, I will always refer to her as Tatiana Banks: Errol Lindsay’s daughter. And now, she also has a granddaughter.

When I think about my brother, I think about how he was such a jerk and I think he’ll appreciate the fact that I’m still standing up for him until my last breath. He knows I’m still here for him.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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