Fact vs Fiction: How accurate is Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story?

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is one of Netflix's biggest releases — but how accurate is it?

True crime dramas are always a massive TV hit, and this 10-part drama starring Mare of Easttown actor Evan Peters as notorious American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, is no different.

The chilling tale of the so-called Milwaukee Monster is largely told from the perspective of the victims and reveals the police incompetency and apathy that allowed Dahmer to go on a 13-year killing spree, murdering and dismembering 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991.

But how much of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story actually happened? Here’s everything you need to know about the Netflix series…

Who was Jeffrey Dahmer and how many people did he kill?

Jeffrey Dahmer, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was one of America’s worst criminals and his reign of terror spanned three decades. Between 1978 and 1991 he murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys, with his sick crimes including necrophilia and cannibalism.

Dahmer committed his first murder three weeks after he graduated from high school in 1978. One day in June, he picked up 18-year-old hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks, lured him to his house and bludgeoned him with a dumbbell before strangling him and burying the remains in a shallow grave in the Dahmer family back garden. 

In 1987 he committed his second murder, this time killing 25-year-old Steven Walter Tuomi in a rented room at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee. 

He carried out three further murders in the home of his grandmother (played by The Waltons star Michael Learned in the series), storing and disposing of the victims in the basement and garage. Then, after his grandmother asked him to move out, he killed 12 more victims at his Milwaukee apartment.

What was Jeffrey Dahmer’s background?

Dahmer was born in 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joyce, a teletype machine instructor, and Lionel, a research chemist. In the series his father Lionel Dahmer (played by Richard Jenkins), said his son was always a strange boy and became particularly subdued after hernia surgery when he was four.

From an early age, Dahmer was interested in dead animals and animal bones. He collected large insects and the skeletons of small animals, such as chipmunks and squirrels, and preserved them in jars of formaldehyde. He once even decapitated the carcass of a dog before nailing the body to a tree.

At school, Dahmer, who was gay, was seen as an oddball and a loner, who drank to excess and often staged pranks for attention. By the age of 18 he found himself living alone following his parents’ divorce and he committed his first murder just a few weeks afterwards.

How was Jeffrey Dahmer caught?

Shaun J Brown as Tracy Edwards.

Shaun J Brown as Tracy Edwards in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. (Image credit: Netflix)

The first episode of the chilling series depicts how police finally came knocking for Dahmer in 1991 after one of his terrified victims escaped his Milwaukee flat, which actually happened in real life. 

Running down the street with a pair of handcuffs dangling from one wrist, Tracy Edwards (played by Shaun J. Brown) flagged down police and told them that Dahmer was trying to kill him. Later, in Dahmer’s apartment, the cops found a human head in the fridge, and body parts in a freezer, filing cabinet and kettle. Dahmer was immediately arrested.

How did Jeffrey Dahmer die?

After his conviction in 1992, Dahmer served little just under three years in jail before being beaten to death in November 1994 by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. 

Scarver, who was serving 25 years for armed robbery and murder, later said that he killed 34-year-old Dahmer with a metal bar after growing increasingly unnerved by the serial killer, who he claimed taunted the other prisoners by fashioning severed limbs out of prison food and drizzling them with packets of ketchup to look like blood.

Who is playing Jeffrey Dahmer?

Evan Peters plays Jeffrey Dahmer. Seasoned horror fans will likely know Evan Peters already, as he's teamed up with Ryan Murphy before on a number of American Horror Story seasons. In the horror anthology, he's played roles such as Tate Langdon in Murder House, Kit Walker in Asylum and Jimmy Darling in Freak Show.

As well as horror roles, Evan has starred in the X-Men film series as Quicksilver and played Warren Lipka in American Animals. 

Where can I watch Jeffrey Dahmer documentary?

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to stream worldwide on Netflix as a box set now. 

How many episodes of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story are on Netflix?

All ten episodes of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story are now available. 

Hannah Davies

Hannah has been writing about TV for national newspapers and magazines ever since the 1990s when she covered the soaps for Woman magazine — and she still prides herself on rarely having missed an episode of EastEnders. Since then she’s written for various publications, including What To Watch, TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week, Woman & Home, Psychologies and Good Housekeeping

Apart from EastEnders, her other favorite shows include Succession, Unforgotten, Line of Duty, Motherland and anything by Russell T Davies. When Hannah isn’t watching or writing about telly, you’re likely to find her enjoying London’s latest theatre shows, taking her campervan on a wet UK holiday or embarrassing her teenage kids.