Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Ep. 7: “Cassandra”
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
Written by Ian Brennan, Janet Mock, & David McMillan
* For a recap & review of Ep. 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of Ep. 8, click here.
When Tracy Edwards fled from Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment it obviously caught the attention of Glenda Cleveland in the apartment next door. Glenda curiously went out into the hallway, only to be scared by Jeffrey looking through the peephole of his apartment. So she ran back to her place and called the cops. When Jeffrey was arrested he said quietly, almost to himself: “For what I‘ve done, I should be dead.” And while Jeffrey was being taken away by police, Glenda screamed at the cops for not doing anything sooner, which obviously upset Tracy, too. Glenda rightly chastised the cops for it being “too late.”
Now the news media is running wild with the story of Milwaukee’s own serial killing cannibal. Parts of eleven different bodies have been uncovered. Glenda and the other residents are now being asked to move out during the investigation. It’s not like the cops care, though. Glenda keeps the news on while she’s packing, hearing so many grisly details being talked about on afternoon television. She decides to turn it off.
The cops are completely floored by what they’ve been finding, from the bodies to all the ID cards. They’ve found that one of the victims was only fourteen years old. Plus, the details about cops having been to the apartment before are coming out, including that Glenda, a Black woman, was ignored by the white cops. The mayor’s flipping out and the cops are looking to cover their asses. Much worse are the jobs of the detectives who have to go deliver news to the families of the victims. A horrific job to do, but far more awful for the families to hear such things.
At work, Glenda’s interview in the newspaper recently has made the conservative boss uncomfortable. So it’s not bad enough that the Black community, and other communities of colour, have suffered the loss of actual lives, they had to deal with this sort of racist nonsense after the fact. Glenda’s also told there’s an “HR issue” with her. Apparently her emotions are a problem. And then the woman bringing this stuff to Glenda has the nerve to ask: “Did you ever see the zombies?” My god.
Some in the Black community, mostly the bourgeois folks, don’t know why some others in the community feel the Dahmer case is important. Reverend Jesse Jackson (Nigel Gibbs) feels the whole thing is “a metaphor for all the social ills that plague our nation” from bad policing to how the nation sees Black/brown men, “especially if they happen to be gay.” He goes to the mayor and the police chief about it. Naturally the mayor and the cops don’t want to “inflame racial tensions.” Jackson knew it was far beyond that already. Black and brown communities were coming together in this moment in their shared trauma because of “racism and neglect.” Jackson wants to go see Glenda even though the mayor and the cops haven’t even gone themselves yet.
A pretty wild moment for Glenda to receive the Rev. Jesse Jackson at her door. They have a talk together and Jackson gets to know Ms. Cleveland a little. She’s originally from Mississippi, but moved to Milwaukee in 1973 with her daughter. Jackson talks to Glenda about the Laotian boy, Konerak, she tried to save. “It‘s like our people don‘t count,” she laments. The reverend assures he’s there to listen.
Glenda says things got much worse about the incident with Konerak. She recounts the disgusting smell coming out of the vents. She asked Jeffrey about it and he blamed it on bad BBQ meat. One day she met a young Black man named Dean (Brandon Black) who just moved into the building recently. She also heard Jeffrey meet Dean as the two talked in the hallway. Jeffrey offered to bring a few beers by some time. Another night, Glenda heard Jeffrey down at the dumpster drunk tossing things away. Always something involved with Dahmer, whether it was a smell or noise or just a general sense of unease.
One night Jeffrey dropped by to ask Dean out for a slice and a beer. Later in the middle of the night, Glenda was woken up by someone yelling and running down the stairs. She was sure it was from Jeffrey’s apartment. She called the building landlord, who only said that Dahmer was “a good tenant.” She made other calls to the cops, too; more than once. She told one of the cops: “Tomorrow it could be too late.”
Finally Glenda went to the building manager, Sopa Princewill (Raymond Watanga) and they went to Dean’s apartment looking to find him. They obviously couldn’t just barge inside. So Glenda took Mr. Princewill to her apartment where they could take a whiff of the smell coming from Dahmer’s apartment. She tried to explain to him exactly how bad things have gotten and that nobody’s listening. The manager went to Dahmer’s apartment and served him with an eviction notice. Jeffrey had a cleaning crew there working on the place, but Mr. Princewill gave him 30 days. He was clearly drunk and maybe stoned, claiming he’d been fired. Nothing worked. The building manager stuck to his guns.
Jeffrey went to see Glenda and tried to convince her to drop the complain. He said he’d gotten the cleaning crew in and he wanted to see if he was still “stinking up the place.” She invited him in so he could sniff around the place. He brought a plate covered in tinfoil with him, “a gift” for her: he made her a sandwich. And Jeffrey wanted Glenda to eat it, right then and there. She was reluctant, asking what kind of meat was in it; Jeffrey replied “pulled pork.” But Glenda wasn’t going to eat a sandwich coming from Jeffrey’s stinky apartment. Jeffrey acted hurt, saying that Glenda was just like his mother and his grandma: “Telling on me when I ain‘t done nothing wrong.” She asked about the smell and the power tools, as well as the screaming. Jeffrey had all sorts of answers.
Then Glenda asked about Dean, saying that if she knew where he was then she’d take back her complaint. Jeffrey only kept insisting Glenda eat the sandwich. Obviously Glenda refused and told Dahmer to leave. A tense scene until Jeffrey leaves. (In reality, one of Dahmer’s neighbours, not Ms. Cleveland, said she ate food Jeffrey made and later, once his hideous crimes were revealed, feared she might’ve eaten one of the victims.)
On another night, Jeffrey was coming back to the building with another young man. And later, Glenda heard all sorts of grunting and screaming and fighting that abruptly ended with a loud knocking sound. So she dialled 911 again asking for cops to be sent out, believing there was a fight or a murder occurring. She got a terrible response from the 911 operator, as usual. The only thing Glenda could do was lie in bed and wonder what was really happening next door, hearing Jeffrey start up power tools late in the night, imagining what he could be doing with them. Must’ve been terrifying.
It’s all quite a story for Rev. Jesse Jackson to hear. Glenda knew Jeffrey was a monster but says: “Nobody heard me.” Thankfully now people are listening. The cops who didn’t listen to Glenda about Konerak are being suspended. A small step towards some semblance of justice. Glenda gets very emotional now that she’s finally being heard. If only it wasn’t so, so horribly late. Maybe lives would’ve been saved and families not shattered. Maybe whole communities and neighbourhoods wouldn’t have been traumatised. Too many maybes with too much weight.