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Read this: Netflix's Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story through the eyes of a victim's sister

Rita Isbell, whose emotional impact statement at Dahmer's 1992 sentencing is recreated in Monster, recounts her experience watching the show in a new essay

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Evan Peters as Jeffery Dahmer in Monster
Evan Peters as Jeffery Dahmer in Monster
Image: Netflix

The debut of Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story has sparked a robust online conversation about the ethics of Hollywood revisiting famous murderers at the cost of letting victims rest. Above the back-and-forth Twitter noise, however, a singular voice on the subject rings clear and true: Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, who was murdered at 19 by serial killer Jeffery Dahmer in 1991.

In a new essay for Insider (which can be read in full here), Isbell recounts her experience watching a family tragedy recreated onscreen. The visceral victim impact statement Isbell gave at Dahmer’s 1992 sentencing hearing is recreated in Ryan Murphy’s newest series (Isbell is played by actor DaShawn Barnes.) Isbell says watching the moment “bothered” her—especially given the fact that she says she never heard from Netflix about a series chronicling her brother’s murderer.

“I was never contacted about the show,” Isbell writes. “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.”

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“The victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless,” Isbell continues. “It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

After seeing the clip with her testimony, Isbell didn’t watch the rest of the show. “I don’t need to watch it,” she writes. “I lived it. I know exactly what happened.” Isbell doesn’t, however, see the renewed attention on her brother’s history as a cut-and-dry negative.

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“The show bringing up old feelings did hurt, but it also benefits me,” Isbell explains. “I benefit from it because I can deal with it differently today than I did in the past. I can talk about it with not as much anger. I’m still learning how to forgive, even if I don’t understand, and keep on with my life. I can’t change other people or things that have happened. I can only change myself.”