Mother of Dahmer victim condemns Netflix series: ‘I don’t see how they can do that’ | US news

The mother of aspiring model Tony Hughes, who was among more than a dozen men murdered by Jeffrey Dahmer, has condemned the recently released Netflix series about the serial killer who took her son’s life, saying she doesn’t understand how the television show could be made.

Shirley Hughes told the Guardian on Sunday that she hadn’t seen all of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which focuses one of its 10 episodes on her son, who was deaf and just 31 years old at the time of his slaying in 1991. Nevertheless, she’d concluded that “it didn’t happen like that”.

“I don’t see how they can do that,” Hughes said, before adding that it was difficult to talk about Tony’s murder and politely ending the call. “I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.”

Now 85, the still-grieving mother joined a growing chorus of people whose relatives were murdered by Dahmer and who have mounted a loud backlash against Netflix’s dramatization of his killing spree in Milwaukee.

The hit series’ main players, including creator Ryan Murphy and Dahmer actor Evan Peters, have insisted that the show strives to put the victims’ stories and their families’ trauma at the heart of the production. But the show has faced criticism for not consulting the families of the victims.

The cousin of Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey – Eric Perry – wrote on Twitter that his relatives found out about the series when Netflix released it on September 21 and it quickly became the platform’s most-watched show.

Netflix wasn’t required to consult victims’ families because the events it portrays are public record, but the way things went down re-traumatized the loved ones of those murdered by Dahmer, Perry added.

Perry’s cousin and Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, who is portrayed as calling Peters’s Dahmer “Satan” in a series courtroom scene, wrote separately that the show felt “harsh and careless”.

The episode where the show’s producers arguably tried the hardest to focus on a victim was the sixth, telling the story of how Tony Hughes fatally crossed paths with Dahmer.

Viewers see how Tony Hughes – portrayed by deaf actor and former reality television star Rodney Burford – loses his hearing in his childhood after a doctor misprescribed him medication amid what his mother has previously described as a battle with pneumonia.

He grows up communicating through sign language, reading lips and writing notes by hand. His sister tells him she wants to name the child she is expecting after him. He is also close to his mother, has dreams of modeling, hopes to find a committed romantic partner, and enjoys dancing at clubs with two friends who – like him – are deaf and gay.

Burford’s performance as Hughes has been praised as compassionate and haunting, but many have found the episode grueling to watch.

None of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims deserved to die but the episode about Tony Hughes is especially heartbreaking. So hard to watch. #DahmerNetflix #JeffreyDahmer #DahmerMonster

— Casey Moore (@caseyleemoore) September 23, 2022


The episode – titled “Silenced” – shows Hughes meeting Dahmer during a night out and striking up a relationship with him. The show implies that, as Hughes tries to leave after a night spent together, Dahmer murders him, possibly with a bloodied hammer.

The episode ends with Dahmer cooking and eating Hughes’s liver after donating money to a search effort that his victim’s mother and other family members mounted after his sudden disappearance.

A subsequent victim who escaped from Dahmer alive ultimately led to his being convicted of 16 murders. Prosecutors determined that Dahmer mainly lured his victims to his apartment under the guise of sexual interest, drugged them, strangled them or otherwise killed them, and sometimes performed sex acts with their corpses before dismembering them.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1992 and was beaten to death by a fellow inmate two years later at age 34.

Shirley Hughes, who was teaching a Bible class in Milwaukee when her son was murdered, has not spoken much in public about Tony. She learned of his killing after investigators discovered his skull in Dahmer’s apartment and identified it through dental records.

But, at the time that Dahmer was charged with his killing spree, she told United Press International that she felt relief knowing why her son had disappeared while also being emotionally shattered by the fate he met.

“It hurts,” Shirley Hughes told the wire service. “I shed tears. They’re not tears of sorrow, and it’s not disbelief in the Lord. The tears [are] tears of hurt because it hurts. It hurts real bad. But you have to trust and pray and just keep going day by day.”

Shirley Hughes constantly attended Dahmer’s criminal court proceedings, according to the Associated Press. She later moved from Milwaukee to a state in the south-eastern US.

The actor Karen Malina White portrays her in the controversial Netflix show.

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