Jeffrey Dahmer’s lawyer recalls his first encounter with a serial killer

Wendy Patrickus, who was once a defense attorney for Jeffrey Dahmer, spoke about working on behalf of the serial killer in a new documentary.

Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes will be available on Netflix in the UK and US from October 7th. Patrickus participated in the documentary, directed by Joe Berlinger, to discuss the case and his involvement with Dahmer’s legal team.

When assigned to Dahmer’s case, Patrickus was in his mid-20s and had just moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Dahmer was arrested in July 1991.

In the documentary, Patrickus recalls that her boss, Gerald Boyle, who also worked as Dahmer’s lawyer, sent her to talk to the killer.

“When I came in to see it, it was a very small interview room,” he says on the show. “Jeff was sitting in the corner of the table. I was incredibly nervous, because I felt like it was overwhelming me… I felt like Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs”.

If you haven’t seen that 1991 Jonathan Demme movie, adapted from Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel of the same name, Starling is an FBI intern. In both the book and the movie, Starling tries to enlist the cooperation of serial killer Hannibal Lecter to solve another series of murders.

In the new Netflix documentary, Patrickus talks about how she had to bond with Dahmer to perform her duties as a lawyer.

“To be a good defense attorney, you must be impartial and you must develop trust,” he explains. “[Dahmer] He called me Wendy and I called him Jeff.”

She is then heard on a tape telling Dahmer, “That’s good, Jeff. I mean, don’t be ashamed of it. Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“No,” Dahmer replies. “You have to face it, so… It’s so weird, isn’t it? It’s not… It’s not easy to talk about it. It’s something I’ve kept buried inside me for many years, and it’s like trying to pull a two-ton rock out of a well.”

Wendy Patrickus and Jeffrey Dahmer in Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes


Dahmer confessed to killing 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1999 and murdered while in prison on November 28, 1994.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s Tapes It is the third installment in the series. Conversations with a Killer Netflix, whose first two seasons focused respectively on Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.

The documentary premieres just over two weeks after the series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Storyby Ryan Murphy, a dramatization of the case.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at