(WFLA) — Shirley Hughes, the mother of one of murderer Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims, is calling out the use of Dahmer’s image for Halloween costumes this year as being exploitative.
In an interview with the outlet, Hughes said it was triggering to see people dress like the man who took her son, Tony Hughes, away.
Tony Hughes was a deaf man who was murdered by Dahmer.
Dahmer was eventually convicted of killing 17 men between the 1970s and 1990s. His other horrific deeds included sexual assault, the mutilation of his victims, and sex crimes involving minors.
Authorities would not find out what happened to Hughes until they found a skull in Dahmer’s apartment that matched the victim’s dental records.
Controversy over media depictions of Dahmer’s life resurfaced this year following the release of a Netflix series detailing the murders. One of the episodes of the series even focuses on Tony Hughes and his deadly encounter with Dahmer.
Part of the controversy involves the races of Dahmer’s victims, who were mostly Black or other minorities. Critics of law enforcement have said that this racial imbalance contributed to Dahmer’s ability to carry out the murders for so long.
In an interview with the Guardian, Shirley Hughes said it was difficult to talk about her son’s murder and to see people make stories about the victims and their families.
“I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there,” she told the Guardian.
Eric Perry, whose cousin Errol Lindsey was murdered by Dahmer, said Lindsey’s family only found out about the series after it came out.
Because the information in Dahmer’s case is public record, Netflix was not required to consult with the victim’s families. But Hughes and other relatives of the victims have called out the company for profiting off their trauma.
“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families,’ no one contacts them,” Perry wrote on Twitter. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”
In a report from Insider, Lindsey’s sister Rita Isbell said she was never contacted about the show, even though the series recreated her emotional victim impact statement where she shouted at Dahmer for killing her brother.
“I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it,” Isbell said in her essay published by Insider. “They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it.”