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The new Netflix limited series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, tells the story of American serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, and his killings that occurred between 1978 and 1991. While the show is fictionalized, the events are based on the real murders he got away with for over a decade without detection.
Dahmer was almost caught after several calls to the police by his neighbor Glenda Cleveland, but his crimes didn't come to an end until a man named Tracy Edwards escaped Dahmer's home and led police to his apartment.
One of Dahmer's arresting officers, John Balcerzak, also found himself in hot water with his partner, at the time, Joseph Gabrish. The two faced major backlash for disregarding Cleveland's warnings.
But where is John Balcerzak now, and what role did he have in the murder of one of Dahmer's victims? Read on for the details.
Who is John Balcerzak?
John Balcerzak was the arresting officer in the Jeffrey Dahmer case. He reported to Dahmer's apartment with another officer after Tracy Edwards escaped from Dahmer and told them about his near-death experience.
Both Balcerzak and Gabrish became known as the “Dahmer cops” after the case gained more publicity, per The Tab.
Why was John Balcerzak fired from the police force after catching Jeffrey Dahmer?
Dahmer's neighbor, Glenda Cleveland, called the police several times after noticing suspicious behavior.
On one occasion, John Balcerzak and his partner responded to a call to find Cleveland, Sandra Smith, Tina Spivey, and Nicole Childress with a 14-year-old boy who was naked, bleeding, and seemingly in an altered state. However, when police arrived on the scene, Dahmer had returned and insisted that the boy was his 19-year-old lover who'd had too much to drink, per The Cinemaholic.
Despite the fact that the women had asked that the boy, Konerak Sinthasomphone, the 14-year-old son of Laotian immigrants, be taken to a safe place, the officers allowed Dahmer to take the boy back to his apartment, where he was later killed.
Days later, after seeing Sinthasomphone’s missing photo in the newspaper, Cleveland called the police again, only to be ignored once more. She even tried calling the FBI, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
As the Dahmer case unraveled, it became clear that the mass murderer had targeted mainly gay men and boys of color. It was also clear that the authorities ignored warnings from Black community members, and instead, trusted Dahmer.
Balcerzak stood his ground on his decision.
"At the time, with the information we had—to this day, I think we did the appropriate thing, the best that we could,″ Balcerzak said in his first interview after Dahmer's arrest, per AP News.
Both officers also noted that Dahmer was calm and cooperative when they confronted him about the boy. In response to why Cleveland's previous calls weren't taken into consideration, Balcerzak revealed that he felt he had more evidence.
″She wasn’t actually there,″ he said. ″I felt that my firsthand knowledge was more informative than what she had heard from someone else,″ per AP News.
Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Milwaukee after the Dahmer case.
Reverend Jesse Jackson, an American civil rights leader, Baptist minister, and politician, went to Milwaukee in August of 1991, to console the community and call out the handling of the case, per Encyclopedia Britannica.
During his visit, Jackson delivered a speech, which is reenacted in the limited series, and highlighted the double standard between police treatment of Black and white citizens, per TheFocus and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He called for accountability and an acknowledgment of the systemic racism that was apparent in the case. ″There must be some results from the investigation and there must be some remedy,″ he told the Associated Press in 1991.
Jackson wanted to make clear that "Dahmer’s crimes weren’t committed in a vacuum,” and that “many people including officers of the law turned a blind eye which is why he was able to do what he did for so long.”
And he called attention to the fact that Cleveland's concerns were ignored. “Police chose the word of a killer over an innocent woman,” he told her, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Why was John Balcerzak reinstated?
In 1994, Reserve Judge Robert Parins ruled that firing Balcerzak and his partner was too harsh of a punishment. He added that both should be reinstated into the police force and should receive back pay of $55,000 each, per AP News.
The Fire and Police Commission also voted 4-1 on the appeal.
Where is John Balcerzak now?
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