How Did Jeffrey Dahmer’s Neighbour Glenda Cleveland Die?

Netflix’s ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ is the chilling portrayal of the horrific acts committed by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. While his infamy has long been a subject of movies and true crime shows, the Netflix series approaches it from a different angle. Rather than recreating Dahmer’s crimes and inviting sympathy for the devil, the series focuses on all the ways the justice system failed the victims and encouraged Dahmer to kill more.

While Jeffrey Dahmer’s actions had already been horrific enough, it is the revelation of the sheer incompetence of the people who are supposed to protect the public that gets under the skin of the viewers and horrifies them even more. However, it also focuses on the story of the people who actually tried to stop Dahmer. Glenda Cleveland was one of them. If you are wondering what happened to her after the events of the show, then here’s what you should know.

How Did Glenda Cleveland Die?

Glenda Cleveland died on December 24, 2010, at the age of 56. She’d been living in Milwaukee in her apartment. Some concerned neighbors, who hadn’t seen her for a few days, reported to the police, who then discovered her lying on the floor in her apartment. According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the medical examiner’s report declared it “a natural death caused by heart disease and high blood pressure”. Her daughter, Sandra Smith, attributed this to her mother’s heavy smoking.

Image Credit: TMJ4

Having left her data entry job several years ago, Cleveland didn’t go back to working another job and had helped care for her daughter’s children. There was no funeral, though a memorial service was conducted, attended by the people who’d been closest to Cleveland. Born in Mississippi, Cleveland was one of nine children and had always found it of utmost importance to be of help to those in need. It was this nature, combined with her constant vigilance triggered mainly due to Dahmer’s increasingly suspicious behavior, that led her, her daughter, and her niece to call the cops on May 27, 1991.

They’d found a young boy, bleeding and naked, and barely in control of his sense on the street. He was clearly a child, but the cops who arrived on the scene found nothing wrong with his situation. In fact, they helped Dahmer, who had been accused of hurting the child, to take him back to his apartment. It was only a couple of months, and four more victims, later that it was discovered that the boy that Dahmer had claimed was his 19-year-old boyfriend was actually 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone.

When Cleveland had tried to get help for Konerak, the cops chose to believe Dahmer over her. Furthermore, Cleveland followed up with several calls, asking about Konerak’s well-being, but her concerns were dismissed. Eventually, Dahmer was arrested in 1991 when Tracy Edwards succeeded in escaping his clutches and bringing the cops back to his door. Following Dahmer’s arrest, Cleveland lived on the same street until 2009. While her concerns were left unheeded when she was desperately trying for someone to pay attention, she was hailed as a “model citizen”, by Mayor John Norquist, later.

Cleveland was honored by the Common Council and County Board in Milwaukee and received awards from local women’s groups and the Milwaukee Police Department. For her part, she continued to speak against the police injustice that had led to the loss of innocent lives. Cleveland also, reportedly, stayed in touch with Konerak’s family. For actress Niecy Nash, who plays her role in the series, Cleveland was also one of Dahmer’s victims.

Nash said: “Glenda Cleveland 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.” The Netflix series rectifies that by giving more focus to her efforts and the trauma she experienced while living next door to Dahmer, while also giving the audience a figure to look up to in an otherwise spine-chilling story.

Read More: Who Were Jeffrey Dahmer’s Victims?

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