January 5, 2011

"Glenda Cleveland was Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbor, and the serial killer could have been stopped two months earlier if police had only listened to her."

"God knows she tried. 'Are you sure?'  she kept asking police on the phone when they insisted that a dazed and naked boy trying to escape from Dahmer was actually an adult involved in a lovers' spat with him. We know now, of course, that he was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, and that he was about to become Dahmer's next homicide victim. Cleveland's daughter, Sandra Smith, and niece, Nicole Childress, had spotted the boy fleeing from Dahmer in the alley on May 27, 1991. They were rebuffed by police at the scene, but they told Cleveland who then called police numerous times."

Cleveland died on Christmas Eve at the age of 56.

A 911 call transcript:
Cleveland: “Yeah, uh, what happened? I mean my daughter and my niece witnessed what was going on. Was anything done about the situation? Do you need their names or information or anything from them?”

Officer: “No, not at all.”

Cleveland: “You don’t?”

Officer: “Nope. It was an intoxicated boyfriend of another boyfriend.”

Cleveland: “Well, how old was this child?”

Officer: “It wasn’t a child. It was an adult.”

Cleveland: “Are you sure?”

Officer: “Yup.”

Cleveland: “Are you positive? Because this child doesn’t even speak English. My daughter had, you know, dealt with him before, seeing him on the street. You know, catching earthworms.”



Officer: Ma’am. Ma’am. I can’t make it any more clear. It’s all taken care of. He is with his boyfriend, in his boyfriend’s apartment, where he has his belongings also.”

Cleveland: “But what if he’s a child? Are you positive he is an adult?”

Officer: “Ma’am, like I explained to you, it’s all taken care of. It’s as positive as I can be. I can’t do anything about somebody’s sexual preference in life.”

Cleveland: “Well, no, I am not saying anything about that, but it appeared to have been a child. This is my concern.”

Officer: “No. No. He’s not.”

Cleveland: “He’s not a child?

Officer: “No, he’s not. OK? And it’s a boyfriend-boyfriend thing. And he’s got belongings at the house where he came from. He has very nice pictures of himself and his boyfriend and so forth.”

Cleveland: “OK, I am just, you know. It appeared to have been a child. That was my concern.”

Officer: “I understand. No, he is not. Nope.”

Cleveland: “Oh, OK. Thank you. Bye.”

54 comments:

tim maguire said...

Hmmm...he can't speak English so he couldn't say he was an adult, he was naked so he offered no ID, but Dahmer had a picture of him, so he must be an adult. Makes sense, there are no pictures of children.

MadisonMan said...

My recollection is that she was black, he was brown (golden?) and Dahmer was white. Guess who the police believed?

You like to think that if something similar happened today, there would be a different outcome.

Maguro said...

Chilling. I wonder if any action was ever taken against the idiot cop.

MadisonMan said...

Ms. Cleveland is the kind of person anyone would want as a neighbor, I think. She sounded like a really genuinely nice person.

Maguro said...

You do wonder if the cop would have been more skeptical if it had been a 14 year old girl rather than a boy. Hassling a gay man and his lover probably isn't good for a cop's career.

bagoh20 said...

Of course she was ignored, she was clearly homophobic.

Big Mike said...

@MadMan, your comment at 9:32 is the most repulsive thing you've ever posted on this blog.

And that's going some.

You, sir, are worthless on the best day of your life.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if any action was ever taken against the idiot cop.

That's a whole 'nother sordid tale.

The two investigating officers were terminated, but won a suit to get their jobs back and were named Officers of the Year by the Milwaukee Police Association because of it!

Robert said...

Maguro, give me a break. The cop wasn't worried about his "career" due to PC concerns. He couldn't care less about the two homos. After you, we all know how they are: a gay boy who can't speak English running naked through the streets in the worst part of town? Par for the course for those types. Move along, nothing to see here.

EDH said...

MadisonMan said...
My recollection is that she was black, he was brown (golden?) and Dahmer was white. Guess who the police believed?

Could it be any more clear from the transcript that Dahmer's behavior was countenanced, if not actually believed, not because he was white, because he said he was openly gay?

Officer: “Ma’am, like I explained to you, it’s all taken care of. It’s as positive as I can be. I can’t do anything about somebody’s sexual preference in life.”

MadisonMan said...

There was age involved too.

If you are young teen and black or young teen Asian and intoxicated, and it's your word against an older sober White Guy...

Pastafarian said...

Jesus, Big Mike, that's a little harsh.

I doubt that the cop weighed race into the equation too much; but I don't know, I wasn't there. It sounds to me more like Dahmer used the gay boyfriend angle to scare off the cops, who didn't want to delve too deeply into it because they found it icky.

Although Maguro and bago might have a point about forced political correctness playing a role.

But there's no reason to go batshit crazy on MadMan.

Maguro said...

Yeah, save the personal insults for the high speed rail threads, Big Mike. Sheesh.

MadisonMan said...

I'd rather focus attention on Glenda Cleveland, anyway. Why aren't there more people like her?

It reads like she was just a class act. God Speed to her.

edutcher said...

Sad to say, this happens all the time, witness the Beltway Sniper. The geniuses at the FBI were so sure this was a right wing gun nut. The people who figured it out had to beat them over the head to get them to listen and act.

The day is going to come when Committees of Vigilance (as in San Francisco in 1854) will be more valued than the cops.

The Crack Emcee said...

Like I've said, a billion times, I told everyone - friends, the police, medical personell, my lawyer(s) everyone - my wife and that freak had killed my mother-in-law, but I'm "a man", and black, and that trumped everything I had to say.

Two years later, the authorities are contacting me and asking for what I've got because they've killed two more people.

Political Correctness:

You gotta love it.

You're going to learn that everything I say is true - and my wife's story ain't over yet.

MrBuddwing said...

The hair-tearing irony is, of course, that the gay righs crowd criticized the Milwaukee cops for taking Dahmer at his word that the kid was his boyfriend - I do believe they said it smacked of homophobia.

Another cheerful aspect of the story was reports that the dead kid's family received harassing phone calls from people connected to the cops, callers who said if the family had never come to this country, none of this would have happened and those good cops would never have gotten into trouble.

Word verification: ticions.

BladeDoc said...

@Big Mike -- To clarify: It seems to me that MadisonMan accused the cops of racism because they believed the white guy instead of the black woman or asian kid. Did you believe that he was OK with that or did you think that the accusation was "the most repulsive thing you've ever posted on this blog". Or do you believe that accusing the cops of racism is horrible (not just wrong but evil)?

Conversely MadisonMan -- am I wrong in my above interpretation?

I'm confused.

TheGiantPeach said...

While I certainly fault the cops for not digging deeper into the situation, which would have saved some lives, you have to realize that Dahmer was a very convincing character. That was a big part of why he succeeded as long as he did.

He could talk his way into, and out of, situations. When he was in high school, he went with some classmates to Washington. When he was there, he boasted that he could get them into VP Walter Mondale's office. And he made good on his boast.

MadisonMan said...

I'm just saying that the Cops believed a sober white older man over a teenage black girl and a teenage (drunk) Asian male. Many things probably drove the police to the decision they made that day.

Would I have made a similar decision? I don't know.

Maguro said...

The two investigating officers were terminated, but won a suit to get their jobs back and were named Officers of the Year by the Milwaukee Police Association because of it!

Isn't that special? Wouldn't expect anything less from our court system and a cop union. Absolutely sickening.

Hoosier Daddy said...

My recollection is that she was black, he was brown (golden?) and Dahmer was white. Guess who the police believed?

Wow. Seriously?

Clyde said...

In other Wisconsin sex offender news, two men in Eau Claire have been charged with sexually assaulting a woman with a live snake.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

MadisonMan said...

Ms. Cleveland is the kind of person anyone would want as a neighbor, I think.

I think most cannibalistic serial killers would disagree.

Clyde said...
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Clyde said...

And no, it wasn't the Throbbing Python of Love.

I also read a news story about a Mexican drug gang killing a couple of street clowns. You know why cannibals like Dahmer won't eat clowns, don't you? Because they taste funny...

Badabing!

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
My recollection is that she was black, he was brown (golden?) and Dahmer was white. Guess who the police believed?

When worlds collide. I mean look at it, do you go with the RACE angle or the SEXUAL angle? Sadly, in today’s society that seems to be the conundrum, not what is BEST, but what will anger the fewest advocacy groups.

Reminds me of the Gay comedian who has/had a shiftless, Welfare Queen Womon as a “character” in his stand-up. Gay crowds howled at “her”, but Blacks and Lesbians started complaining…wow the comedian is GAY, he has the “gay gong” can you criticize him? And then the comedian started in with the story about how he had been reared by a single Black Womon, and so COULD NOT BE RACIST! His mom was BLACK, and he was Gay, by definition he was oppressed and so couldn’t be criticized…yet, it seemed to me, that the Lesbian/Black outrage, and seriously they quoted a BLACK-LESBIAN, was two “gongs” to his one and so the gay comedian was, possibly, in the wrong. As I say what to do, when various “Oppressed Groups” begin to collide in public?

I see why the Police Union did what they did, it’s their JOB to defend members, but then to award them a PRIZE? That I don’t get, why rub salt into the wound?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm just saying that the Cops believed a sober white older man over a teenage black girl and a teenage (drunk) Asian male. Many things probably drove the police to the decision they made that day.

In other words the cops believed the adult over an intoxicated individual and a teenager. Funny how the scenario changes when race isn't tossed in the mix no?

HKatz said...

I'd rather focus attention on Glenda Cleveland, anyway. Why aren't there more people like her?

I like how in the conversation with the police she doesn't just let it go, she keeps making her point that it might have been a child. And it's agonizing, because if only they'd taken a moment to second-guess themselves...

She's a good person. It doesn't always work out, but it's still important to do the right thing - on other occasions such neighbors have been alert and persistent enough to save lives.

Titus said...

One of the officials mixed up in this is was promoted to town council president or some other shit like that.

paul a'barge said...

@MadisonMan, nothing you have said is in any way even remotely offensive.

@BigMike has a @LittleDick and is just looking for a safe place to be insultingly ignorant.

Mattman26 said...

Hair-tearing irony, indeed. The giveaway line is "I can’t do anything about somebody’s sexual preference in life.”

The flaw in logic so painful and jarring, the consequence so tragic.

I'd put the victim's death principally on the shoulders of PC, not homophobia. But I suppose it has a bit of a "tsk, tsk" of "well, what're you going to do about these people and their alien lifestyle?"

Maybe not so much homophobia as a failure to think clearly; a jump from an appropriate sentiment (someone's sexual orientation is not my business) to an inappropriate conclusion (no matter how bizarre and obvious the signs of something amiss, I must avert my eyes and judgment, because, well, someone's sexual orientation is not my business).

James said...

Here's something else to annoy Big Mike.... from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story:

Cleveland's data entry job was eliminated several years ago, and she had not worked since then. She helped care for Smith's nine children. Smith, who was Cleveland's only child, is now a nurse living on Milwaukee's south side.

William said...

The cops screwed up big time. But in their defense, their stereotyping had less to to with race than with sex. My guess is that in the course of their duties they encountered more gay lover quarrels than cannibalistic serial killers. You just don't factor in the possibility of a serial killer in your ordinary calculus of life. They screwed up, but their incompetence was probably not secondary to racism.

alan markus said...

Depite having a daughter and 9 grandchildren, her death wasn't discovered until concerned neighbors reported that she had not been seen for several days?

One of the officers, Joe Gabrish, is/was police officer in Grafton Wisconsin, and is Police Chief of the Town of Trenton (I think it's a part-time gig) both of which are north of Milwaukee.

The Crack Emcee said...

Fuck. Even now most of you are refusing to acknowlege PC as the culprit. No, it had to be this, or it had to be that - anything but the cultural sickness that distracts from reality.

It's PC, you doofuses.

Leo Ladenson said...

Maybe not so much homophobia as a failure to think clearly; a jump from an appropriate sentiment (someone's sexual orientation is not my business) to an inappropriate conclusion (no matter how bizarre and obvious the signs of something amiss, I must avert my eyes and judgment, because, well, someone's sexual orientation is not my business).


Of course, the source of the problem might be that the second conclusion follows directly from the first. If you accept the first, then logically you must accept the second.

Anneliese Dickman said...

The fault was the state doemstic violence statute at the time, which was not written with gender-neutral langauge. It only protected battered women. Once Dahmer convinced the cops that they were two men living together as lovers, it became a domestic situation and the cops had no legal reason to intervene. The statute has seen been amended with gender neutral language. An interesting lesson in legislative drafting.

JAL said...
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Shanna said...

Once Dahmer convinced the cops that they were two men living together as lovers, it became a domestic situation and the cops had no legal reason to intervene.

You would think they could have at the very least checked the kids age. Unless 14 is legal age in that district. What kind of probably cause would you need for that?

The Crack Emcee said...

Hitting. Head. With. Fists.

Jesus, the "reasoning" here is a perfect example of why this was allowed to happen.

What, to a cop, does sexual orientation (or gender neutral language) have to do with someone running naked in the street?

You're like those scientists who can't help but describe homeopathic preparations as anything but as "containing a substance so diluted there's not even a molecule of the substance left in it."

It would be clearer - and easier for everyone to understand the scam - if they said, "It's just water."

This was political correctness, and nothing more.

You guys make life waaay more complicated than it needs to be. It's no wonder so little seems to work correctly with you geniuses sorting it out.

Shanna said...

She called back a few days later after seeing Konerak's photo in a newspaper article about his disappearance. No one got back to her. She tried again. Same result. She even tried calling the FBI, but got nowhere.

This jumps out at me after reading the article, even more than the initial 911 call. You would think that she could have gotten someone to take her tip. I mean, I realize police get a lot of tips that are false, but she could have pointed to the previous reports. Somebody should have been listening at that point.

JAL said...

@ william My guess is that in the course of their duties they encountered more gay lover quarrels than cannibalistic serial killers. You just don't factor in the possibility of a serial killer in your ordinary calculus of life.

My guess is that in the course of their duties they encoutered the same or even more childhood sexual abuse or sexual predators. Forget the sexual orientation thing.

What EVIDENCE did the police have of his age? There was a good possibility (not a miniscule one) that the young man could be a kid. Public drunkedness and running around naked in public would be two easy reasons to haul him down to the station while they did a little work. (And cover against a homophobe slur -- did they do that back then?)

I don't know where they were/are in their heads, but I would have had a hard time staying in police work knowing I had failed to do a basic identification check which lead to a kid dying a horrible death. Not to mention being rewarded for overcoming a judgment against poor police work and poor judgement contributing to the [horrible] death of a minor.

Meanwhile, Ms Cleveland is trying to be the village that raises the child -- and protects them.

I hope when she met her Maker she heard her "Well done."

wv bucherin
Dahmer was bucherin while the cops were drinking coffee.

JAL said...

Her name wasn't E.F. Hutton.

That was the problem.

Many people have the expereince of being invisible.

"When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. When I talk, nobody lisens." Glenda Cleveland

Quasimodo said...

PC, racism, homophobia???

No. The simple answer is lackadaisical work by policemen with plenty of other more pressing crimes to work on. This explains it all, including the lack of follow through later.

Anneliese Dickman said...

There has been much legal and ethical scholarship about this case and the cops' actions. These were two men who were not inclined to intervene and the law did not require them to. Today, you will not find a domestic violence statute anywhere that's written to protect only women or to protect only victims willing to testify, also a failing of the laws at the time. The media and scholarly attention given to this case have caused that positive result.

Big Mike said...

Count me as someone who has had it up to his hair follicles with the notion that race is the sole determiner of what happened in any situation.

To the extent that you are walking back your 9:32 post, MadMan, that's good.

Paul, go soak your head.

deepinjuncountry said...

Domestic dispute—the most popular call for patrol cops because it's the most unpredictable and dangerous they'll make.

Why is it always an either/or situation? Why not a PC nightmare AND a little incompetence. A perfect storm for catastrophe—go down the PC checklist—lifestyle choice, jeez he's naked, don't make waves, he's only drunk, let's get the hell outta here!

Truth is the cops don't have much time for empathy in a crisis, while Mrs. Cleveland had the luxury of long-term observation. The cops should have recognized that and acted accordingly. (Except for the fact that neighbors often hate each other.) The variables are endless. And shit happens.

Youngblood said...

Race, homosexuality, and sociopathic charm aside, Jeffrey Dahmer would have been stopped that night if the cops had done the minimal effort of running a background check.

That's the tragedy here.

Scott M said...

Did the cops have SCMODS?

Revenant said...

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence -- Napoleon Bonaparte

traditionalguy said...

In my experience it has seemed impossible to underestimate the intelligence of police investigators. We see real geniuses at work on TV shows, and then real life dumb as rocks police investigators surprise us. They just don't understand much outside the police world.

Youngblood said...

Scott M,

I don't know what equipment they had access to, but the officers' failure to perform a background check was cited when they were dismissed.

The cops had Jeffrey Dahmer in custody. They had his young victim, Konerak Sinthasomphone, in custody.

At the time, Sinthasomphone was semi-conscious, bleeding from the anus, and had a hole drilled in his head. Dahmer's neighbor had told the cops that Sinthasomphone was a minor.

At the time, Dahmer was on parole for child molestation.

The police officers entered Dahmer's apartment. A rotting corpse was in the very next room. Not only did they not bother to investigate, they never even took down Jeffrey Dahmer's name.

The cops may or may not have been racist. They may or may not have liked gays. What is not a point of contention is that they were lazy.

If they hadn't been, Dahmer would have stood trial for the rape of Sinthasomphone, who would likely still be alive today (along with Dahmer's four final victims).

knox said...

The poor child's brother was also a victim of Dahmer. I saw a crime show about him once and it was beyond horrifying. The guy was worse than anyone could dream up.

I'll never understand why the cops' actions that day, and after. Does "why" really matter? Five more people died because of what they did--or didn't do, as the case may be.