Jeffrey Dahmer's Grandmother May Have Known What Was Lurking Beneath the Shadows

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Sep. 26 2022, Updated 2:49 p.m. ET

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer and Michael Learned as Catherine Dahmer in 'Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.'
Source: Netflix

Content warning: This article mentions violent crimes.

If there's one thing Ryan Murphy can't get enough of, it's casting Evan Peters as a serial killer.

For those unaware, the Emmy Award-winning actor is skipping the next season of American Horror Story in favor of portraying infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the new Netflix limited series, DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The miniseries, which follows Dahmer's heinous murders, is told from the point of view of his victims.

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Speaking of his victims, Dahmer typically lured them to his grandmother's house, where he resided at the time. Wait, what? Did she know of her grandson's revolting behavior? And did he kill her to keep her quiet? Keep reading for all the known details about Dahmer's grandmother, including whether she was an accomplice. Plus, stick around as we reveal who portrays her in the Netflix series.

jeffrey dahmer netflix
Source: Netflix

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer in 'Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.'

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Jeffrey Dahmer committed his crimes while living with his grandmother.

Following his military discharge in 1981, Dahmer returned to Ohio to live with his father and stepmother (portrayed by Richard Jenkins and Molly Ringwald in the series). He continued to drink heavily and was eventually arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct; as a result, Dahmer's family sent him to live with his grandmother, Catherine, in Wisconsin.

jeffrey dahmer netflix molly ringwald richard jenkins
Source: Netflix

Molly Ringwald and Richard Jenkins in 'DAHMER - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story'

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Dahmer's father and stepmother hoped his living arrangements would influence him to turn his life around, aka quit drinking and find a job. Initially, things were OK — Dahmer attended church with his grandmother and took on various responsibilities around the house. However, by 1987, Dahmer was back to his disturbing homicidal habits.

While living with his grandmother, Dahmer put her basement to gruesome use.

Although his second victim, Steven Tuomi, was murdered in a hotel room, Dahmer transported the body to Catherine's home and dismembered it one week later. Three additional victims were murdered and dismembered in his grandmother's basement. If you can believe it, Catherine was unaware of her grandson's criminal behavior.

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Catherine eventually grew tired of her grandson's late-night antics — and the foul smells emanating from the basement, which Dahmer allegedly blamed on “taxidermy” — so she forced him to move out in 1988. Dahmer found himself back there just months later and continued his crimes until moving out for good in 1990.

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Did Jeffrey Dahmer kill his grandmother?

Dahmer may have been a cold-blooded killer, but criminal psychologists believe that his crimes were sexually motivated. Dahmer’s repressed homosexuality led him to attack only young men and boys, many of whom were also homosexual. Because of this, he had no motive to kill his grandmother. In fact, he and his grandmother reportedly had a relatively good relationship (all things considered).

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In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for Dahmer to have killed his grandmother. Although DAHMER points to his grandmother’s suspicions, she never voiced them to her grandson, who believed she remained completely oblivious. Dahmer was arrested and behind bars by 1991. His grandmother didn’t die until 1992. She was 88 years old and died of unknown causes, according to Ancient Faces.

Who plays Catherine in 'Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story'?

In Ryan Murphy's series, Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, four-time Emmy Award-winning actress Michael Learned portrays the monstrous serial killer's grandmother. The 83-year-old actress is best known for her role as Olivia Walton in the long-running CBS historical drama series The Waltons.

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Michael Learned stars as Catherine Dahmer in 'Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.'
Source: Getty Images

"I have admired everything Ryan Murphy has produced so far," Michael told Fox News in March 2022. "I feel very privileged to have worked with him … In fact, I feel privileged to work at all, at my age."

She added, "I didn’t actually meet Ryan until I was on the set. I recognized him immediately and walked over to give him a big thank-you hug. I can only say that I love to work and the scripts were beautifully written."

Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is now available to stream on Netflix.

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