From the archives: USA TODAY’s coverage of the Jeffrey Dahmer case as it really unfolded

Netflix’s new series on Jeffrey Dahmer highlights some of the gruesome and unconscionable crimes committed by the serial killer from 1978 to 1991, but the series takes some liberties in retelling the story.

“You can have all the backstory you want, but at the end of the day we’re not making a documentary,” Evan Peters, the 35-year-old Emmy-winning actor who plays Dahmer in the miniseries titled “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” said in a 2021 interview with Variety.

The 10-episode miniseries, according to Netflix’s description, tells a story of “underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.”

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in episode 102 of ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.’
Dahmer’s 17 known victims:Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 people. These are the victims and what we knew about them.

Read Glenda Cleveland’s 2011 obituary:Dahmer’s former neighbor, Glenda Cleveland, alerted police about him. But they did little.

The series often stays close to news reports, but the USA TODAY Network has found some notable deviations.

Here’s a look at news coverage of Dahmer, as found in USA TODAY’s archives.

The following original reporting appeared in USA TODAY on these dates, unless otherwise noted. Stories have been edited for length.

July 24, 1991: Nightmare in Milwaukee
The grisly discovery of the pieces of as many as 15 bodies – including three human heads kept in a refrigerator – has shocked residents and police in Milwaukee.

The severed remains were found in the fly-infested apartment of a candy factory worker early Tuesday after a man, who said he escaped from the flat, flagged down police.

“You think you’ve seen it all out here, and then something like this happens,” said officer Rolf Mueller.

The gruesome scene at the apartment house in a rundown neighborhood near Marquette University greeted patrolmen who were hailed by the man, who had handcuffs dangling from one wrist. The man said he was able to flee from the apartment after being threatened with a knife.

Police found the walls of the apartment plastered with photographs of nude, mutilated bodies. A dresser was brimming with drawings and snapshots. Body parts were stuffed in cardboard boxes and plastic bags. A barrel was filled with acid and bones. A video camera was mounted on a wall.

“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” stars Evan Peters as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Police said most of the body parts are believed to be from males of various races.

Officers at the scene said the stench was overpowering.

“I thought it smelled like dead bodies,” said a neighbor, Anita Lusk. “Never thought I’d be right.”

Other neighbors told police they heard sawing in the apartment at all hours.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Thomas Breitlow said Tuesday that police had arrested Jeffrey Dahmer, 31, at the apartment and booked him on suspicion of homicide.