(NewsNation) — It’s not a documentary; it’s not even close. But a new 10-part dramatization about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that’s based on real events is gripping true crime enthusiasts across the country.
“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” has attracted huge ratings for Netflix. The chilling series, created by Ryan Murphy and starring Evan Peters, has been streamed for nearly 500 million hours since its debut just two weeks ago.
Dahmer, also known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal,” murdered, dismembered and often ate 17 men and boys that we know about between 1978 and 1991. He’s believed to have sought out victims due to his own loneliness and despair. Dahmer confessed to the killings after investigators discovered the body parts of at least 11 men inside his apartment.
No one had access to Dahmer like journalist Nancy Glass. She was the last person to interview him before he was beaten to death in prison.
Delving into the mind of a murderer, Dahmer told Glass he wanted to possess and control victims. He insisted that his cannibalism started with curiosity that ended with a desire to eat victims to make them part of himself.
“The eating of the heart and the arm muscle. It was a way of making me feel that they were a part of me. At first, it was just curiosity. And then it became compulsive,” the killer told Glass for Inside Edition.
Dahmer also told Glass that killing gave him a “surge of energy.” The murderer seemed to crave a connection with his victims. Glass believes it could go back to his childhood.
“There’s an interesting thing that happened in his childhood. His father told me that his mother didn’t allow anyone to touch him except to change his diaper or hold him for a photograph. And so he never really attached to anyone. He told me he had no friends. And then what happened was, he wanted someone to be with him to touch him. And he felt he didn’t want them. Well, he wanted to touch them. He didn’t want to be touched back. Because he didn’t like the fact that he was a homosexual. He didn’t like it. So he felt how do I get these people to be part of me, and part of that for him was cannibalism,” Glass explained.
Some of the Netflix episodes painted a sympathetic picture of Dahmer’s troubled life and suggest he may have felt remorse. Through her own time with Dahmer, Glass insists he was a psychopath.
“But the fact is, while he said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I wish I hadn’t done this. I should have had the death penalty’ — he was a psychopath. So who knows if he really meant it. And you really have to see things in that context, because very often people say to me, ‘he said he was sorry,’” Glass said.
The Netflix series also touched on tension and a lack of trust between the police and community members in Milwaukee during Dahmer’s murder spree. Especially after 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone escaped Dahmer’s apartment when his captor went to the store. After a neighbor called police, officers ended up handing the child back over to Dahmer when he convinced them they were lovers. The officers were later accused of discrimination and insensitivity toward minorities.
Glass says Dahmer was an artful liar, a quality that likely helped him with the police that day.
“Because he was so normal, he was able to get away with so much. It’s what made him so terrifying, I think. [That] boy, that he had drilled a hole in his head and poured in acid because he wanted to zombify him, the kid got away, ran away, ran into the street bleeding with a towel on, a neighbor called the police. The police found the boy and Jeffrey Dahmer was such a skilled liar. He said, here’s a picture of him posing nude for me. He was my lover, and the police gave him back. And then he killed him,” Glass explained.
Glass thinks the nation’s obsession with the new series on Dahmer comes from the unbelievable horror of his crimes.
“I think America’s obsession with true crime has something to do with the fact that reality – nothing is more horrible, fascinating, interesting, and sometimes even humorous, as actual reality. You couldn’t script that,” Glass said.
Even with a record-setting audience, the Netflix series has drawn criticism from family members of the victims. According to reports, a cousin of victim Errol Lindsey, said their family was “pissed” about the show.
“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” Perry said. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need,” Lindsey’s cousin, Eric Perry, tweeted.
In wake of the series, USA Today released the names of each of Dahmer’s victims:
Steven Hicks, 18
Steven Tuomi, 28
Jamie Doxtator, 14
Richard Guerrero, 25
Anthony Sears, 24
Ricky Beeks, 33
Eddie Smith, 28
Ernest Miller, 24
David Thomas, 23
Curtis Straughter, 18
Errol Lindsey, 19
Anthony Hughes, 31
Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14
Matt Turner, 20
Jeremiah Weinberger, 23
Oliver Lacy, 23
Joseph Bradehoft, 25
While their families have mourned the loss of their loved ones, Glass said Dahmer did not remember their names.
“You know, he confessed like that when he was caught, 160-page confession he detailed, every single thing he did every single victim. But he didn’t remember their names. They were not people to him. They were just objects.”
Glass says she has not watched the series at this time.