There are very few heroes in Netflix’s Dahmer: Monster – The Jeffrey Dahmer Storybut undoubtedly Glenda Cleveland is one.
Glenda became a key fighter to get Jeffrey Dahmer behind bars when police failed to hear her multiple warnings. She continued to fight for justice of the victims long after Dahmer was arrested.
But who was the real Glenda and where is she now? Here’s what happened to her de ella, and why Niecy Nash declared it an “honour” to portray her.
Who was the real Glenda Cleveland?
In a deviation from the true story, Glenda Cleveland was not, as portrayed in Dahmer: Monster, Dahmer’s next door neighbourhood. In real life, the woman living next door was Pamela Bass, a woman who was actually relatively fond of Dahmer.
In fact, in interview since the arrest, Bass has since gone on record to state that he was “friendly and sharing” and had even fed her sandwiches, though she feared once his crimes were revealed they contained human meat.
But for the sake of the storytelling, Pamela Bass was somewhat erased, with elements of her personality and story merged into that of Glenda Cleveland, who had lived in the building adjacent to the Oxford Apartments Dahmer called home.
Glenda had long been suspicious of Dahmer, especially the foul smell coming from his apartment and his tendency to use power tools late into the night.
But she switched on him completely on May 21, 1991, when her daughter Sandra Smith and niece Nicole Childress alerted Glenda to a dazed and confused Konerak Sinthasomphone.
The 14-year-old had been left almost catatonic after Dahmer had drugged him, drilled a hole in his head and poured acid into his brain. Miraculously, the teen managed to regain consciousness and stumble out of the building, where he was looked after by Glenda as she called the police in the street.
Dahmer found the police and Sinthasomphone with the women as he returned from a shop run and – incredibly – managed to convince the cops the teen was 19 and his boyfriend who was “just drunk”. Believing Dahmer over the women, the policemen involved then helped get Sinthasomphone back into Dahmer’s apartment to “cool off”.
Sinthasomphone was murdered the same evening.
In a now notorious phone call recording, Glenda called the police for an update, only to be brutally dismissed by the men on the other end of the line saying it was “taken care of” despite her pleas of “are you sure?”
When Missing posters of Sinthasomphone started circulating, she again called the police, only to be ignored again.
If they had listened to her repeated pleas for help, at least five victims would have been saved.
What happened to Glenda Cleveland?
Following Dahmer’s arrest, Glenda largely shunned the media spotlight, insisting that she “just wanted to get back to normal.”
In the years that followed, she was praised for the hero she was and had tried to be, given formal honors by the Common Council and the County Board, and celebrated by local women’s groups and the Milwaukee Police Department.
Largely, she did return to normal, remaining at her job in data entry until her position was no longer required. After that, she basically retired.
According to the milwaukee journal sentinel, Glenda Cleveland remained in her home by the Oxford Apartments (later bulldozed and turned into a vacant lot) until 2009. She then moved to another building less than a mile away.
She died on December 24, 2010 at the age of 56 due to natural causes.
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Speaking about portraying her on Dahmeractress Niecy Nash said: “If anything, I would want people to know Glenda Cleveland was special. That was a special woman. To continue on and on and on in an effort to get someone to do something. She deserved way more than a little cheesy plaque at the bottom of a social hall somewhere.
“She served way more than the police to step in front of her and say, ‘Look at what we did and what we tried to do’. And I will want people to know that we all know or have been or will be a Glenda Cleveland in this life.”
Dahmer: Monster – The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is available to stream now on Netflix.