Ryan Murphy says he reached out to Dahmer victims' loved ones, but "not a single person responded"

Ryan Murphy
Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

Despite its swift rise to become one of Netflix’s biggest originals ever, Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer—Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has faced its fair share of rightful criticism. Dahmer struck a negative chord with viewers who feel the series dredges up and dramatizes the serial killer’s crimes without a clear motive—and without working alongside his victims’ remaining loved ones.

At a Thursday event for Dahmer at Los Angeles’ DGA Theater, Murphy says that over three and a half years of writing and preparation, his team tried to contact the victim’s family and friends many times—and were always left cold.

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“It’s something that we researched for a very long time,” Murphy shares, per The Hollywood Reporter. “We reached out to 20, around 20 of the victims’ families and friends trying to get input, trying to talk to people and not a single person responded to us in that process. So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff. But it was just like a night and day effort to us trying to uncover the truth of these people.”

Murphy also says that, if a memorial were arranged for the victims, he would be “happy to pay for it myself.”

“We’re trying to get a hold of people to talk about that,” Murphy says. “I think there’s some resistance because they think the park would attract people who are interested in paying homage to the macabre… but I think something should be done.”

Murphy’s assertion stands in contrast to allegations from the loved ones he says he contacted, some of whom see the show itself as the aforementioned “homage to the macabre.” Rita Isbell, whose brother Errol Lindsey was murdered by Dahmer in 1991, has called the series “harsh and careless.” Isbell’s searing victim impact statement at a 1992 sentencing hearing for Dahmer is recreated in the show; she said Netflix never once contacted her about plans to use her likeness and story.

“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy,” Isbell wrote in a September essay for Insider. “That’s just greed.”

Shirley Jackson, whose son Tony Hughes was killed by Dahmer in 1991, has also criticized the show for sensationalizing her son’s story. “I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there,” Hughes told The Guardian earlier this month.

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