Directed by true crime pioneer Joe Berlinger, Netflix’s ‘Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes’ is a documentary series we can only describe as equal parts riveting and haunting. That’s because it explores every aspect of the titular serial offender’s barbaric actions through not just his own taped narrative but also exclusive first-hand accounts of those close to the matter. Amongst them is Michael Ross — Jeffrey’s former acquaintance as well as a friend to several of his victims. So now, if you wish to learn more about him, we’ve got the essential details for you.
Who is Michael Ross?
As a youngster in the wonderous city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, back in the late 1980s and 1990s, Michael often frequented local gay bars to truly express himself in this community-driven space. That’s seemingly where he first met Jeffrey, along with Anthony Sears, Anthony “Tony” Hughes, and Edward Smith, among many others, only for the former to gradually end up targetting them. Since they were all regulars, Michael still remembers once Jeffrey’s reality came out, “several people in the bars said, ‘I remember him ‘… Well, of course, we all did. Milwaukee’s only this big.”
The truth is even though the gay lifestyle was “really up and coming” in the Midwestern city around this period, as per Michael in the docuseries, there were still a lot of challenges they faced. “You could be yourself. You had freedom, so you were comfortable,” he stated before later adding, “We were all just coming into who we are; accepting ourselves. A lot of those people were beautiful souls.” However, owing to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as personal issues, there were times people simply disappeared or left the city, making it kind of normal for a few never to be seen again.
“It was often you walk in a bar, and people say, ‘Child! Another one missing.’ You’d say, ‘What? Who’s missing now?'” Michael described. “Because Milwaukee’s so small, especially the Black gays. So if you didn’t see somebody for 2-3 weeks, you figured they’d moved. But then it was almost, I would say weekly, somebody else was saying, ‘so and so is gone.'” Even his friend Earnest Miller vanished in early September 1990, and he vividly remembers last seeing one of his closest confidantes Tony Hughes in May 1991 — the latter had left Michael at the bar to dance with Jeffrey.
Where is Michael Ross Today?
Michael honestly could’ve never imagined that a lot of the disappeared individuals were horrifically slain by Jeffrey in his apartment, but it’s the truth, and it came to light in July 1991. Though he does also believe neglect by law enforcement is at least partially responsible for the matter since “I was in the bars often. Nobody asked me about anybody.” He said, “I didn’t have any police officer or any detective come up to me and say, ‘What do you know about this person or that person?’ This wasn’t a couple of months or a couple of weeks; this went on for years. If the victims had been white and straight, the search would have been more in-depth.”
“It saddens me every time I think about any of those gentlemen,” Michael candidly expressed. “Because, like everybody else during that time, they were trying to find themselves; they weren’t expecting to get killed.” As for his own standing, from what we can tell, Michael continues to reside near the Milwaukee area in Wisconsin to this day, where he’s leading a quiet life well away from the limelight. We regrettably do not know much about his current personal or professional experiences — that is, apart from the fact the former prison official seems happy with who and where he is today, which is all that matters.