'Jeff': the untold story of Jeffery Dahmer
MILWAUKEE - It's a story that change Milwaukee forever: Jeffery Dahmer.
After twenty years, the name alone brings up haunting memories. He brutally murdered seventeen men and boys and was involved in dismemberment and cannibalism.
And now, a shocking documentary is revealing untold stories about Dahmer's crimes.
Just mentioning his name, recalling his past, remembering what he did to his victims, can take some minds to a very dark place.
"When I told my mom I was doing a documentary on Jeffery Dahmer she was like. 'Oh my God, why? Why would you want to do that? That sounds awful,'" says filmmaker, Chris James Thompson.
Thompson admits Jeffery Dahmer is a sensitive subject in Milwaukee but says it's a story that needs to be told.
"It's a story that everybody knows about. But it's a side to the story that no one knows about," Thompson says.
His film, called "Jeff," shows how Dahmer affected other people's lives and how he is still affecting their lives today. Thompson has worked on the documentary for four years. He's immersed himself in the life of Jeffery Dahmer and the people who knew him.
"It does get depressing. It's a pretty dark film," he admits.
The film focuses on details no one knows about. For example, Dahmer once gave his neighbor Pam Bass a red couch because it would not fit in his apartment. For years, Bass had the couch in her apartment. Once Dahmer was arrested and news spread about his serial murders, she says her entire life changed.
"There were people that were willing to pay fifty bucks to come in and sit on my couch," Bass says in the documentary.
There are lives forever changed by Dahmer. Maybe not directly, but changed none the less because of what happened inside apartment 213 near 26th and State.
"It's little stories like that that just seem so interesting," explains Thompson.
Like the story behind the blue and white striped shirt seen 'round the world. The one Dahmer wore during his first court appearance when everyone was waiting to see what Dahmer would look like. The shirt was given to Dahmer by homicide detective, Pat Kennedy. The shirt once belonged to Kennedy's son, Pat Jr.
"I asked him, I said, 'Hey Pat do you have a shirt and some pants that you don't like?' And he pulls out this blue striped shirt. He says, 'Yeah. This one you gave me for Christmas that I will never wear?' I gave those to Jeffery Dahmer. He put them on," recalls Kennedy.
Thompson says there have been so many stories done on what was wrong with Dahmer or why Dahmer did what he did. However, he says that has never interested him. He says, he cannot relate to that. Rather, Thompson's documentary is about Milwaukee, and how everyone, in some way, was affected by Dahmer's horrific crimes.
"Twenty years later might seem strange to be making a documentary about something like this. But I think that even after this much time has passed, it almost paints a better picture about how something like this effects people and changes their lives," Thompson says.
Thompson's documentary, "Jeff" was just picked up by the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Thompson, winner of the 2007 Milwaukee Film Festival, says he hopes his work will once again play there as well this September.