Dumb & Dahmer

It’s the weekend before Halloween and the cable television networks are putting the horror films in heavy rotation. As such, I was readying myself for a costume party last night by putting on my dreadlocks wig and skull mask, when I caught parts of the 2002 film “Dahmer” on the Independent Film Channel. I didn’t really know the ins and outs of the Jeffery Dahmer case, so one scene of the film in particular really astonished me. One of Dahmer’s victims, badly intoxicated and with holes drilled in his head, managed to stumble out of the killer’s apartment only to have the Milwaukee Police return him! Of course his fate was sealed as he became the 13th of Dahmer’s 17 victims. But wait, there is more, the sheer idiocy of the police gets worse as that bumbling decision was cast with racist and homophobic overtones…

In the film, two black women come upon Konerak Sinthasomphone, the Laotian 14-year-old would be victim of Dahmer in an alley. Seeing that he is badly intoxicated they summon paramedics. Jeffrey Dahmer, returning from work, arrives on the scene as do the police. The racist cops rudely ignore the black women who caution against returning the teenager to Dahmer. The serial killer is then able to convince the police that the kid is his lover and that he just had too much to drink. Believing that Sinthasomphone is an adult and Dahmer’s lover, and not believing the black women, the Milwaukee police hand him over to his unfortunate fate. Dahmer killed Sinthasomphone shortly there after.

In reality, Milwaukee police were called to Dahmer’s apartment and did indeed return Sinthasomphone into the hands of the terrible killer. In truth, the police did ignore the impassioned pleas of neighborhood resident Glenda Cleveland – a black woman. She tried to tell the police that Sinthasomphone was not 19 years old but a boy. Had the police done even a routine ID check, Dahmer would have been found to be a convicted sex offender. This blunder not only failed to save the life of the young Laotian victim, but of the four others that followed.

The scandal did not break the news until Cleveland herself learned of Dahmer’s arrest months later and called a television station to tell her story. Afterwards, the two super sleuths, John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, were fired by the Milwaukee Police Department after the incident received attention in the media including an audio recording of the two making homophobic statements after returning Sinthasomphone. However, through the mostly white police union, the two appealed their termination and were eventually reinstated with back pay! It gets worse. Just two years ago Balcerzak was voted President of the Milwaukee Police Association and has since defeated a recall! Can the Milwaukee police get any Dumb & Dahmer?

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