Wendy Patrickus had been a lawyer for three years when she was assigned to defend Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. She speaks about the experience on new Netflix true crime series Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.
She worked as second chair in the 1992 trial State of Wisconsin v. Jeffrey Dahmer, assisting the lead defence attorney Gerald Boyle. As part of her role, Patrickus spent hours on end speaking to Dahmer, travelled to the location of his murders, and sat beside him for days on end in court.
Dahmer’s defence team argued that he was not responsible for his crimes because he was insane, and suggested that his acts of necrophilia were evidence of insanity. Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane to 15 counts of murder and the case went to a trial by jury to determine whether Dahmer was insane.
Who is Wendy Patrickus?
Wendy Patrickus is known for defending the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, taking on the case when she was just 25. Patrickus compared her experience of dealing with Dahmer to that of Clarice Starling working with serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the film Silence of the Lambs which came out the same year that Dahmer was arrested.
As Dahmer’s lawyer, Patrickus listened to more than 30 hours of interview recordings in which Dahmer described his bloody crimes. She also visited Dahmer’s flat where many of the killings had taken place - she said she could see and smell the blood from and the experience made her sick.
What was the outcome of the Dahmer trial?
Dahmer’s defence team presented the killer as a lonely and sick man, they relied on the testimony of mental health professionals most of whom agreed that Dahmer was mentall ill. However, the prosecution argued that Dahmer was pleading insanity in order to escape a stricter punishment.
Dahmer was found to be sane at the time of each of the 15 murders by 10 jurors, with two dessenting in each case. He was sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment - the state of Wisconsin abolished the death penalty in 1853. Dahmer was later extradicted to Ohio to stand trial for the murder of his first victim, Steve Hicks, and recieved another term of life imprisonment.
While serving a 900+ year sentence at Columbia Correctional Institution was beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver.
Where is Wendy Patrickus now?
Patrickus still practices law as an attorney and has been the owner of her own practice since 2005. In 2018 she appeared on an episode of documentary series Dark Tourist - she met with presenter David Farrier and spoke about her role in the trial.
In March this year she published the book Defending the Devil: Inside the Trial of My Client Jeffrey Dahmer which explores hours of unreleased interview recordings. Patrickus also features heavily in the new Netflix series Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, where she discusses the relationship she had with Dahmer as his attorney and how she was affected by the case.
When is Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes on Netflix?
The three-part documentary series was released on Netflix on Friday 7 October - all three episodes are available to watch now. Earlier instalments in the Conversations With a Killer series - The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, and The Ted Bundy Tapes - are available on Netflix now.