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Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes

Updated: 3 days ago

(available on Netflix)

Extra Warning: Disturbing images, descriptions of crimes against adults and minors, including but not limited to sexual abuse, cannibalism, murder, and necrophilia

FTC Rating: 4 out of 5


Hot on the heels of the highly popular and controversial Netflix series “Dahmer”, the streaming service released “The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes”, installment three of the True Crime series “Conversations with a Killer” from Director Producer Joe Berlinger. Sourced from interviews taped by Jeffrey Dahmer’s Defense Attorney, Wendy Patrickus, the audience is given a glimpse into the mind and motivations of Milwaukee’s notorious serial killer. Moreover, the docuseries focuses on the impact of Dahmer’s crimes and the systemic issues which allowed him to hide in plain sight.


Strengths:

- The interview with Wendy Patrickus, notably her revelations regarding the complex relationship she had with Dahmer and how representing him affected her as a young Defense Attorney

- A large section of interviews from authorities (police, psychologists, forensic psychiatrists) and various other actors (activists, friends, reporters) related to or impacted by the case

- A comprehensive account of Dahmer’s crimes and how his modus operandi evolved over time

- The shocking analysis of the police’s failure to protect 14-year-old, Konerak Sinthasomphone and the reactionary opinions expressed by the interview subjects

- Coverage of the court proceedings, the family impact statements


Weaknesses:

- Does not dig deep enough into Dahmer’s background e.g., high school years or the relationship with his mother

- “The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes” features unrelated footage of sexual images spliced with descriptions of Dahmer’s crimes. Echoing FTC’s critiques of seasons 1 and 2, these transitions bring zero value to the material and are extremely problematic.


Final thoughts:

- Despite being a huge fan of Evan Peters’ work, watching this docuseries reinforced my decision to avoid the crime drama “Dahmer”. The idea of watching re-enactments of these crimes, even if limited to the leadup or aftermath, fills me with horror.

-Joe Berlinger is behind several True Crime documentaries. Here is a list of those reviewed/recommended by FTC, with links to the official FTC site:

1) Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

https://www.finesttruecrime.com/post/conversations-with-a-killer-the-ted-bundy-tapes

2) Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

https://www.finesttruecrime.com/post/crime-scene-the-vanishing-at-the-cecil-hotel

3) Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes https://www.finesttruecrime.com/post/conversations-with-a-killer-the-john-wayne-gacy-tapes

Picture Source: Netflix.ca


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