Sister Of Jeffrey Dahmer Victim Shares Thoughts About Seeing Version Of Herself On New Netflix Show

Jeffrey Dahmer being taken into court in Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
(Image credit: Netflix)

As the Fall TV season kicks off in earnest for broadcast networks, marking the annual return of widespread comfort television, the biggest show on Netflix has been the anti-comforting true crime drama Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which has earned star Evan Peters a slew of positive fan reactions, along with an hefty number of disturbed responses. Some of the more noteworthy feedback had nothing to do with Peters’ acting, though, as the sister of one of Dahmer’s victims shared her thoughts on the show after watching an actress fictionalize her memorable courtroom appearance.

Rita Isbell is the sibling of Errol Lindsey, a 19-year-old victim of Jeffrey Dahmer’s who was murdered in April 1991. She gained some national recognition during the highly publicized 1992 trial for her highly emotional victim impact statement, and that part of the trial was dramatized for Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series, with Bosch actress DaShawn Barnes in the role. Isbell opened up to Insider about her memories of that experience in a candid verbal essay, and also reflected on seeing it play out on Dahmer. In her words:

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. If I didn't know any better, I would've thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That's why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.

True crime series like this are very often troublesome for the friends and family members of victims and others involved with the cases, particularly for projects as high-profile as anything streaming on Netflix. And with Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story sticking around the top of Netflix’s Top 10 for its second weekend of release, that means a whole lot of people are digging into this story, possibly for the first time, spurring a lot of online conversations.

Noting that she has not watched any of the streaming drama outside of the scene depicting her courtroom address, Rita Isbell doesn’t exactly take personal issue with Netflix for the show’s existence. However, she wishes there was some positive outcome for the children and grandchildren of the victims. As she put it:

I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should've asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn't ask me anything. They just did it. But I'm not money hungry, and that's what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid. I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims' children. Not necessarily their families. I mean, I'm old. I'm very, very comfortable. But the victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn't feel so harsh and careless.

Netflix has run into trouble with “true story” series that allegedly stray too far from reality when it comes to people whose life rights weren’t paid for, which is the subject of a recent lawsuit over Inventing Anna, among other projects. That’s obviously not the case for Isbell, whose court comments and appearance are part of public record, but she highlights another arguably negative outcome caused by the uptick in true crime projects across linear TV and streaming. 

Rita Isbell on witness stand in Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

(Image credit: Netflix)

If there’s anything resembling a silver lining to be had here, it’s one earned by DaShawn Barnes for pulling off such a convincing portrayal that Isbell herself was so affected. She appears in three of the show’s ten episodes, with the aforementioned victim statement coming in Episode 8, “Lionel.” 

Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to anyone with Netflix subscriptions, and anyone looking for something a little more lighthearted can check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are coming soon. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.