Rita Isbell Has A Lot To Say About The 'Dahmer' Series And Her Viral Testimony

·7 min read
Photo credit: YouTube.com - YouTube
Photo credit: YouTube.com - YouTube

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The new Netflix limited series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, chronicles the gruesome killings of Jeffrey Dahmer between the years of 1978 and 1991. Dahmer's killings went undetected for over 1o years, as he targeted and murdered teenage boys and men. The majority of his victims were men of color and identified as homosexual, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The series, which dropped on Sept. 21, has been getting major buzz for the horrific retellings of the serial killer's violent crimes. And now, one victim’s family member is sharing her thoughts.

One of Dahmer's victims was Errol Lindsey, a 19-year-old Black man, who was lured into Dahmer's apartment in 1991 where he was brutally murdered, according to Serial Killer Database.

During the court hearing following his death, Lindsey's sister, Rita Isbell, provided a victim impact statement, which became a raw, emotional reaction to her brother's killer. A YouTube video shows the tragic event, and the video was hauntingly recreated in the Netflix show. Now, Isbell has published an as-told-to essay with Insider.

Isbell's emotional and heartbreaking interaction with Dahmer has sparked many questions about who she is, what role she played in Dahmer's trial, where she is now, and what she had to say about the new limited series.

Who is Rita Isbell?

Rita Isbell is the sister of one of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, Errol Lindsey. Rita's emotional outburst in court went viral, especially after Netflix recreated the moment almost exactly in the new show.

Who is Rita Isbell's brother?

Isbell's younger brother, Errol Lindsey, disappeared from a mall in Milwaukee on April 7, 1991, per The Baltimore Sun. He was the youngest of six children and had gone to go get a new key cut at the mall, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Lindsey was 19 years old when he was lured into Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment after being offered money to pose naked, per Murderpedia.

Lindsey was Dahmer's 11th known victim when he died, per The Tab.

Lindsey's mom described her son quoted in Anne E. Schwartz's book, Monster: The True Story of the Jeffrey Dahmer Murders: "Errol wasn't the type to talk to just anybody. He went to work and then he came home. He was a mama's boy. He wouldn't even go out with his friends without calling me to see what I was doing."

What happened to Errol Lindsey?

When he got to Dahmer's apartment, Lindsey was drugged. After he was sedated, Dahmer drilled a hole in his skull and poured hydrochloric acid into it. He planned to induce a permanent, unresistant state with the drug, according to Time Graphics.

But according to Dahmer, Lindsey woke up. Dahmer then drugged Lindsey again and strangled him. Lindsey's body was dismembered after his death, per Murderpedia.

What role did Rita Isbell play in the trial?

Isbell took the stand during Dahmer's trial to discuss her brother's death with a victim impact statement. She was 33 years old at the time, per AP News.

After watching other relatives of victims speak with bowed heads and lowered eyes, Isbell took a different approach. She called Dahmer "Satan" and yelled at him, repeatedly telling the murderer that she hated him before charging towards the table where he sat with his lawyers, according to AP News.

Isbell was then restrained by sheriff’s deputies and escorted out of the room.

″They all had to just sit there and hold it in,″ Isbell said about the other relatives at the trial. ″What he saw out of me...is what Errol would have done. The only difference is, Errol would have leaped over that table,″ she said in 1992.

Isbell wanted Dahmer ″to see what out of control is,″ after his lawyer described him the same way during the time of his killings, per AP News.

What has Isbell said about Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story?

Isbell published the essay with Insider after the video of her testimony went viral last week, and in it, she explained her reaction in court.

"I hadn't written anything down. If I had, I would've torn it up anyway. It wouldn't have gotten read. That was my first time ever being in front of him," Isbell writes. "Whatever I thought I was going to say, that didn't happen. It all just came out in the moment."

She had originally planned to talk about the effect the killing had on their mother, but pivoted. The fact that Dahmer wouldn't look at her made her even more angry. "When I got in front of his face it was a whole new ball game. I recognized evil. I was face-to-face with pure evil," she writes.

Netflix did not inform the family about the show, Isbell explains, so she only watched the episode she was featured in. "When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself—when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said...That's why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then."

She writes that Netflix owed the victims’ families a conversation. “I feel like Netflix should've asked if we mind or how we felt about making it,” the essay explains.

Who plays Rita Isbell in the Netflix show?

DaShawn Barnes plays Rita Isbell in the Dahmer - Monster miniseries on Netflix.

What have other family members said about the show?

One of Isbell's cousins also took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

"I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show," the Twitter user wrote. "It’s retraumatizing over and over again," he said about the new series.

The family member also mentioned Rita directly, adding, "recreating my cousin having an emotional breakdown in court in the face of the man who tortured and murdered her brother is WILD.”

He shared that he will not be watching the show and that his family is not happy about its creation. "My family is not happy. RIP to my cousin Errol Lindsey and all the other victims.”

Lindsey left behind a daughter.

In her essay, Isbell also publicly shared that Lindsey actually has a daughter who is still alive today. She's 31 now (so she was likely born around the same time as his death), and has a daughter of her own, Lindsey's granddaughter.

"It's not about me anymore, it's about her," Isbell writes.

Where is Rita Isbell now?

Immediately after Jeffrey Dahmer's death, Isbell discussed some of the phone calls she received about the serial killer while he was in prison.

Isbell said that for the two years leading up to his death, she would hear from men identifying themselves as prison inmates. The men would offer condolences and promise that Dahmer would be "taken care of," per The Baltimore Sun.

She added that she expected his death when discussing how Dahmer was murdered in prison, per The Baltimore Sun and History.

Isbell appeared in a previous depiction of Jeffrey Dahmer's life, Serial Killers: The Real Life Hannibal Lecters, in 2001, according to IMDb.

Otherwise, she's stayed pretty off the grid. Aside from a few public discussions about her brother's experience with Jeffrey Dahmer and her recent Insider essay, Rita Isbell has kept her life private.

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