Glenda Cleveland is one of the heroines of the Jeffrey Dahmer story. She tried to alert Milwaukee police that something was wrong with Dahmer, and she tried in vain to save one of his teenage victims.
What happened to Cleveland? Where is she now?
Cleveland died in 2011, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“The serial killer could have been stopped two months earlier if police had only listened to her,” the newspaper obituary says.
Dahmer’s killings are getting renewed attention as a result of a new Netflix series. “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” started streaming on September 21, 2022. “Across more than a decade, 17 teen boys and young men were murdered by convicted killer Jeffrey Dahmer. How did he evade arrest for so long?” the Netflix site for the show asks.
Although it’s true that Cleveland was a heroine who tried to save Dahmer’s teenager victim Konerak Sinthasomphone, she did not really live next door to him. The Cleveland character in the Netflix show is a composite character of two people – the real Cleveland and Pamela Bass, Dahmer’s neighbor who said he made sandwiches for people in the apartment building. Cleveland lived in a nearby building, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The sandwich scene in Netflix shows Cleveland, but that story really belongs to Bass.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cleveland Died of Heart Disease & High Blood Pressure
According to her obituary story in the Journal Sentinel, Cleveland was largely a private figure after the Dahmer tragedy began to fade in the news.
When she died at age 56, she did not even have a funeral. A memorial service was planned for a few months later so people who knew her in Mississippi could attend, the Journal Sentinel reported.
According to the newspaper, Milwaukee police responded to a “citizen tip” and found Cleveland dead on her apartment floor. She died of heart disease and high blood pressure, the newspaper reported, possibly fueled by an addiction to cigarettes.
The newspaper reported that Cleveland stayed living in the same neighborhood even after Dahmer was arrested, through 2009. She then moved a short ways away to another apartment, living alone in it until her death, according to the newspaper.
Cleveland Tried in Vain to Stop Two Milwaukee Police Officers From Returning a Naked Teenager to Dahmer
An Associated Press story from November 1992, accessed through Newspapers.com, quoted Cleveland. It tells the true story of how she tried to stop two Milwaukee police officers from giving Konerak Sinthasomphone back to Dahmer.
The 14-year-old was killed, and Dahmer was arrested several months later. Two Milwaukee police officers, John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, returned 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone to Dahmer back in 1991 despite Cleveland’s vigorous objections.
He was “naked and bleeding,” the television station reported, but Dahmer “told the officers the boy was an adult and his lover and he was drunk.” Dahmer murdered the teenager, the officers were fired, but they were reinstated.
She told the AP that she was “so worried about the naked, dazed youth” that she considered protesting the police department.
“I thought about a couple of stupid things, like handcuffing myself or sitting on the steps and not moving,” Cleveland told AP.
The encounter occurred in 1991. Cleveland, her niece Nicole Childress, neighbor Tina Spivey and Cleveland’s daughter Sandra Smith told police “they felt Sinthasomphone was trying to get away from Dahmer,” the AP reported.
In fact, Balcerzak went on to head the Milwaukee Police Association, the union of rank-and-file police officers. He retired from the force in 2017, the television station reported.
Gabrish left the Milwaukee force. He was named an interim police chief in the Grafton Police Department, where he served as a captain, according to the Ozaukee Press.
READ NEXT: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Cause of Death.