This article contains discussion surrounding the real-life crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, including pedophilia and murder.
Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a fictionalized reenactment of the life and crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and the tragic story of his victims and their families. Its release has sparked renewed interest in the real story and the accuracy of the show’s representation of key events and people involved. One such incident occurs in episode 2 “Please Don’t Go” when Dahmer steals a mannequin from a Milwaukee department store, only for his grandmother to discover it and discard it in a later episode, much to Dahmer’s anger.
While the show leaves out parts of the true story the mannequin incident is completely factual. As depicted in the show, Dahmer did indeed enter a Milwaukee department store after dark and steal a silver mannequin, which he kept in his room at his Grandmother’s house. Reflected accurately in the show, the mannequin incident, including when Dahmer’s grandmother threw it away, occurred in a pivotal period of Dahmer’s life, several years after the accidental murder of Stephen Hicks and before the bulk of his killing spree.
Did Jeffrey Dahmer’s Grandmother Really Throw Away His Mannequin?
Episode 4 “The Good Boy Box” shows Dahmer’s grandmother Catherine Dahmer (Michael Learned) discovering the mannequin in Jeff’s room before throwing it away off-screen. As with the story of Dahmer stealing the Mannequin, Jeff’s grandmother really did throw away his mannequin after she correctly suspected its purpose. A later scene shows Dahmer, played brilliantly by American Horror Story’s Evan Peters, aggressively snapping at his terrified Grandmother after he discovers what she has done.
Why The Mannequin Is So Important In Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
The mannequin incident is one of the most crucial events in the show. As a visual symbol, the mannequin both reflects Dahmer’s most deep-rooted sexual fantasies and foreshadows how he will indulge these violent impulses on living men. As made clear in the show, Dahmer had a fascination with anatomy and internal organs from a young age, beginning most likely when his father encouraged him to dissect road-kill. Such obsessions partly explain his infatuation with the mannequin and his desire to take nude polaroids of his victims. Dahmer also confessed, in a 1993 interview (via Inside Edition), to having “sexual fantasies of control, power, complete dominance” from the age of 15-16, including “taking a hitchhiker back to the house and having complete control and dominance over him”, which would result in the murder of Stephen Hicks in 1978. The inanimate male mannequin, therefore, most likely provided a means to indulge his most obsessive fantasies.
The loss of the mannequin represents the moment in the timeline of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life where he began to fully inflict his fantasies on people. Dahmer saw killing as merely a “means to an end” which, along with his use of sleeping pills, became a way of making his victims “just an object, an object for pleasure instead a living, breathing human being”. As Dahmer stated in a quotation from Gisela K.’s book Jeffrey Dahmer: The Milwaukee Monster, “killing was not the objective. I just wanted to have the person under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted… that’s why I tried to create living zombies with muriatic acid in the drill.”
In Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story, the mannequin provides a link between Dahmer’s fantasies as a child and young adult, and the terrible crimes he would commit later on. The loss of the mannequin also represents a crucial turning point in Dahmer’s psyche as it is from this point onwards that his fantasies would become uncontrollable and lead to the deaths of 16 more men. While the link between this moment and his subsequent murders may not be as clear in real life as it is in Netflix’s true crime show, it nonetheless occurred in a pivotal period of Dahmer’s life just before the majority of his killings began.
Next: Is John Wayne Gacy Connected To Jeffrey Dahmer? Why He’s In Monster