Netflix show “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” producers said the goal of the film was to tell the victims’ stories and not provide Dahmer’s point of view. But the 10-episode series spends little time with anyone besides Dahmer.
That focus has led to criticism of the show, both from media outlets and from family members of the victims.
Rita Isbell, sister of victim Errol Lindsey, told Insider that she was never consulted about the show.
Eric Perry, Errol and Rita’s cousin, issued a series of tweets in response to the show.
“I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge (right now), but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family are pissed about this show,” Perry wrote.
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” Perry said. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”
The identities of the 17 boys and men Dahmer killed have frequently been lost in retellings of the crimes — lumped together as a summary of names, ages and last known sightings.
The Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, also reported a limited amount about these victims at the time.
Dahmer, who frequently lured victims to his apartment with the promise of money, targeted people who moved from place to place, a fact that left reporters with scant details of their lives.
Using what we have, as well as Anne E. Schwartz’s book on the case (“Monster: The True Story of the Jeffrey Dahmer Murders”), here’s what we know about each victim.
From the archives:Glenda Cleveland alerted police about Jeffery Dahmer. Read her 2011 obituary
What we know:Evan Peters stars as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in new Netflix series
Steven Hicks, 18
Steven Hicks’ father, Richard, described his son as a deeply caring person, telling an anecdote to The Associated Press about a hunting trip, where Steven shot a rabbit and “was as proud as he could be, and then he bawled his eyes out.″
Hicks recently had graduated high school in Coventry Township, Ohio. He was hitchhiking to a rock concert in Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio, roughly 25 miles away, when Dahmer picked him up and brought him back to his parents’ home.
Hicks was last seen June 18, 1978, though his remains were not discovered until 1991 after Dahmer confessed to killing him.
Steven Tuomi, 28
Steven Tuomi grew up in Ontonagon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and worked as a short-order cook in a Milwaukee restaurant.
Classmates remembered him as quiet but artistic.
“I was in art class with him and he made a beautiful lead stained-glass lamp that I can still remember,” said classmate Priscilla Marley Chynoweth. “It was just beautiful. I remember he could do just about anything artistic.”
He’s the only murder victim in Milwaukee for which Dahmer was not charged because of lack of evidence; Dahmer did not recall details but believes he killed Tuomi at the Ambassador Hotel.
Tuomi’s father, Walter, said he was originally told by Milwaukee police that they could do nothing because there was no sign of foul play. Tuomi was last seen Sept. 15, 1987.
Jamie Doxtator, 14
As young as he was, Jamie Doxtator was nearly 6 feet tall. He was half Stockbridge and part Oneida, and liked to play pool and ride his bike.
His mother lived in Tampa, Florida, and he was the oldest of four children.
“One of my son’s favorite sayings from the Bible was `Forgive them, for they know not what they do,'” Debbie Vega said. “I will never feel that way about Dahmer. He sits there so calmly and explains all the things he did. He knew what he was doing.”
Doxtator was last seen Jan. 16, 1988.
Richard Guerrero, 25
Richard Guerrero hailed from a family of Mexican descent. His sister, Janie Hagen, immediately assumed he was dead when he went missing in March 1988.
“If he wanted it to be like that, he would have at least called my mom and let her know everything was okay instead of leaving us in the dark like that with my mother praying to God every day that the good lord will send her son home.”
Hagen said even when her brother got in trouble with the law, the first thing he did was call his mother. He sometimes babysat for Hagen’s 2-year-old daughter.
Hagen felt police didn’t take her seriously because her brother was Hispanic. The family hired a private investigator who defrauded them of money. Richard’s father, who worked at a golf course, lost much of his life’s savings to the act of fraud.
Hagen spoke to Dahmer in Spanish at the trial, calling him “diablo, el puro diablo” (the devil, the pure devil).
Anthony Sears, 24
Anthony Sears managed a Baker’s Square in Milwaukee and was planning to celebrate his recent promotion to manager with his family over Easter dinner, but he never showed.
He aspired to be a model and was saving money to leave Milwaukee. His mother, Marilyn, said he loved having his photo taken and was apt to run off with friends for days at a time, so he wasn’t reported missing until four weeks had gone by.
“He never showed up, so I figured he just went out to celebrate with his friends,” she said. “A few days later, I called and just got his answering machine.”
She said Sears had said he wanted to get married to his girlfriend as soon as he had enough money. He was last seen March 25, 1989.
Ricky Beeks, 33
Ricky Beeks often went by the alias Raymond Smith, and it wasn’t unusual for him to be gone long stretches. He’d been living with his half-sister, who took him in after he’d been released from prison, and had a 10-year-old daughter who lived in Rockford, Illinois.
He was last seen May 29, 1990.
Eddie Smith, 28
Eddie Smith’s sister said he was called “the Sheikh” because he frequently wore a turban-like wrap around his head.
He aspired to be a professional model. He was reported missing in June 1990 and his sister, Carolyn, received a call (presumably from Dahmer) in March of 1991 indicating that her brother was dead. Carolyn became a prominent figure in the subsequent coverage, including the trial.
His brother, J.W. Smith, read statements from members of the family in court.
“Ed was raised in a Christian home where he learned how to be a loving, trusting, respectful human being,” he read from the perspective of Eddie’s mother, Josephine Helen. “Eddie inherited all the blessings that a family structure had to offer. The greatest of those blessings was love.”
Ernest Miller, 24
Ernest Miller was about to start classes at an arts college in Chicago and hoped to become a professional dancer. He was last seen Sept. 2, 1990.
“He was a talented dancer,” said his aunt, Vivian Miller. “He was singing and performing when he was younger and used to sing at church.”
Ernest Miller graduated from Milwaukee High School of the Arts at West Division, then worked for a few years before going to college, his aunt said.
He came to Milwaukee to visit relatives.
“There is no place in a civilized society for anyone who shows no regard for life,” said his uncle, Stanley Miller, at the trial. “I’m not for the death penalty, but you are the perfect candidate.”
David Thomas, 23
David Thomas was father to 2-year-old Courtia Beanland when he disappeared. His ex-girlfriend, Chandra Beanland, said Thomas was a fun-loving guy with a penchant for hustling.
“I try to go on with my life, but I can’t let it go,” she said in 1996. “Every man I meet, I think of David. He’s in my dreams.”
It wasn’t unusual for Thomas to be gone for weeks at a time, but he was reported missing by Chandra that month.
“You took away his 2-year-old child’s father,” Thomas’ mother, Inez, said at the trial. “She sits at the window asking, ‘Where is Dada? When is Dada coming?’ And I think that is a sad thing for a child to see, to go through all of her life not to know her father. I want to thank the jury for seeing this man for what he is, a sneaky, conniving person.”
Thomas was last seen Sept. 24, 1990.
Curtis Straughter, 18
Curtis Straughter was a high-school dropout who joined Gay Youth Milwaukee at age 15 and had a job as a nursing assistant that he lost shortly before he disappeared.
Straughter was planning to get his high-school equivalency certificate and attend modeling school. He went by the nicknames Demetra and Curta.
Straughter lived with his grandmother, and his mother, Dorothy, spoke at the trial.
“You took my 17-year-old son away from me,” Dorothy said. “You took my daughter’s only brother away from her. She’ll never have a chance to sing and dance with him again. You took my mother’s oldest grandchild from her, and for that I can never forgive you. You almost destroyed me, but I refuse to let you destroy me. I will carry on.”
He was last seen March 7, 1991.
Errol Lindsey, 19
Errol Lindsey was the youngest of six children and had left to get a key cut April 7, 1991, when he crossed paths with Dahmer. He had a job making plaster figures, according to one friend.
Lindsey’s eighth-grade art teacher, Dorothy Klein, had saved a watercolor Lindsey had made and shared it with other students, according to Schwartz.
“I can’t understand how it happened, how he met Errol,” his mother, Mildred, told reporters, Schwartz’s book said. “Errol wasn’t the type to talk to just anybody. He went to work and then he came home. He was a mama’s boy. He wouldn’t even go out with his friends without calling me to see what I was doing.”
Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, vented her rage during Dahmer’s trial when family members were given the option to speak. Her memorable and cathartic words were captured in the Netflix series. Isbell spoke to Insider about the renewed attention.
“When I think of my brother, I think of how he was such a goofball, and I think he’s going to appreciate the fact that I’m still standing for him until my last breath,” she said. “He knows that I’m still here for him.
“When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said,” Isbell said.
“If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.
“I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it.”
Isbell said Lindsey left behind an unborn daughter, Tatiana Banks, who’s 31 years old today and a mother herself.
Anthony Hughes, 31
Anthony Hughes had come back home to visit his Milwaukee family from Madison, where he lived, and was profiled as a missing person in the Milwaukee Journal.
Hughes was deaf, a condition brought on after a battle with pneumonia as an infant, and he’s one of the few victims given a three-dimensional portrayal in the Netflix series. He could read lips and communicated through sign language and written notes.
His mother, Shirley Hughes, taught a Bible class at a church in Milwaukee and was prominent throughout the coverage of the trial, one of several family members who filed suit against Dahmer for his crimes. She quoted a poem written by one of Tony’s friends at the trial, written from Tony’s point of view.
“Mom, I’m gone, my hope, my breath, my want to live have been taken away from me unwillingly. But yet, I’m not far away. When you get cold, I wrap my arms around you to warm you. If you get sad, I softly grab your heart and cheer you up. If you smile, I’ll smile right along with you. When you cry, take one teardrop and place it outside your window ledge, and when I pass by I’ll exchange it for one of mine. Two fingers and one thumb, Mom.” She then held up two fingers and one thumb, the symbol for “I love you” in sign language.
Hughes was last seen May 24, 1991.
Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14
Konerak Sinthasomphone’s name is one of the most familiar in the case because of an incident involving Milwaukee police on May 27, 1991, when Konerak Sinthasomphone was returned to Dahmer by police after Dahmer convinced them that Sinthasomphone was 19 and drunk, and the two were in a relationship.
The Sinthasomphone family came from Laos in November 1980 because of worsening conditions after the Communist takeover in 1975. Father Somthone was a farmer in Laos and came with wife Somdy and nine children.
Konerak, who was 3 years old when his family relocated, was one of three children still living at home at the time of his disappearance. Konerak regularly played soccer at Mitchell Park, and was a freshman at Pulaski High School.
When officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish responded to a call about a naked Asian boy running through the alley near Dahmer’s apartment, they took Dahmer’s name and other information but did not write a formal report or run Dahmer’s name through the police computer. If they had, he would have been flagged for a previous conviction stemming from the 1988 sexual molestation of Sinthasomphone’s brother.
That Dahmer had contact with two Sinthasomphone brothers has been regarded as a horrifying coincidence.
When his family received a phone call that their son was in danger, it was a story reported in the city’s newspapers.
Matt Turner, 20
Matt Turner, a native of Flint, Michigan, lived in Chicago and aspired to be a model.
He met Dahmer after a Gay Pride parade at a Chicago bus station and agreed to ride back to Milwaukee with him.
He was last seen June 30, 1991.
Turner, who occasionally used the name Donald Montrell, ran away from his home a year before his death and wound up at a halfway house on Chicago’s north side.
“He was basically a good kid,” said Debbie Hinde, who directed the Teen Living Program there. “He was bright and articulate. This whole thing was very sad.”
Jeremiah Weinberger, 23
Jeremiah Weinberger, a native of Puerto Rico, lived in Chicago and worked as a customer service representative for a video store.
“He loved art and was very meticulous,” his roommate, Tim Gideon, said. “His desk was always straight, and he knew where everything was. He always dressed nice and always worried about what he wore and how he looked.”
He encountered Dahmer in Chicago; the two men took a Greyhound bus back from Chicago to Milwaukee. Weinberger was last seen July 6, 1991.
Flyers with his face went up around Chicago after he vanished.
Oliver Lacy, 23
Oliver Lacy was the youngest of three sons. He had a 2-year-old child named Emmanuel, and was engaged to be married.
Originally from Oak Park, Illinois, Lacy ran track at River Forest High School. His mother, Catherine Lacy, described her son as very outspoken.
He wore a cross around his neck that belonged to his late father and had moved to Milwaukee from Chicago within months of his father’s death.
He went missing July 12, 1991, and was the first victim identified.
Joseph Bradehoft, 25
Joseph Bradehoft had recently moved into a Milwaukee apartment rented by his brother, Donald, and was looking for work, having recently lived in Illinois and Minnesota.
He had a wife and three children in Minnesota, with ages ranging from 2 to 7. He loved sports and fishing.
He left for a job interview July 16, 1991, and never returned.
He met Dahmer at a bus stop near the Marquette University campus and became Dahmer’s final victim.
“We lost the baby of the family,” Donald said at the trial. “And I hope you go to hell.”
Follow JR Radcliffe on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel