The new Netflix series on Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer opens with a dramatic encounter between Dahmer and a man named Tracy Edwards.
Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers for the series!
Where is Edwards now? What is he doing today? His life was never the same after he escaped from Dahmer and, in 2012, he was accused of a serious crime in Milwaukee. “It’s like Humpty Dumpty,” said Edwards’ defense attorney Paul Ksicinski, to ABC News, referring to Edwards’ life after Dahmer. “It’s like he was never able to put the pieces back together again.”
In the Netflix series, episode one, Dahmer meets Edwards in a gay bar and convinced Edwards to go back to his apartment for $50, asking to take his photograph. When they get there, though, Edwards is immediately creeped out by the smell in Dahmer’s apartment.
Dahmer tries to drug him, but Edwards notices something in the glass, and he doesn’t drink the beverage, likely saving his life. Dahmer tries to get him to watch “The Exorcist III,” his favorite movie, and a creeped-out Edwards notices blood on his mattress and a suspicious blue barrel in the corner. Dahmer attacks him with a knife and manages to get one handcuff on Edwards. Edwards waits for his moment, and he struggles with Dahmer and manages to escape, running down the street with a single handcuff dangling from his arm, and flagging down police.
In the apartment, an officer discovers photographs of mutilated bodies in Dahmer’s bedroom dresser. And that marked the end of Dahmer’s serial killers.
But is it a true story? Did a man named Tracy Edwards really escape the clutches of Jeffrey Dahmer?
Here’s what you need to know:
In Real Life, Dahmer Did Threaten to Kill Edwards & Eat His Heart
In his trial testimony, Edwards said the following:
He said he was 32 years old and lived in Louisiana. On July 20, 1991, he was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he saw a person by the name of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Edwards was drinking beer, talking, and hanging out with friends at about 6:15 p.m. “He approached us eventually and started talking to us.”
Dahmer said he was in the city from Chicago taking care of a sick grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin. “He said he was a professional photographer,” and he usually paid people for pictures.
He wanted Edwards to pose for “nude” photos.
In the apartment, it seemed normal at first. Dahmer turned off burglar alarms. But Edwards smelled a “foul odor. I didn’t quite know what it was. He told me a sewer pipe had broken and management would take care of it.”
Dahmer offered him $100. He brought Edwards a beer and then a rum and coke. He brought up fish in his tank. Edwards turned to the right to look at the fish tank. “All of a sudden a handcuff and a knife is pulled on me.” Dahmer put the handcuff on his left wrist.
He asked what was going on and said it was not necessary. He was afraid.
Edwards testified that there was a television set in the room and the Exorcist III movie was playing at the time on a VCR in the back bedroom.
They were both sitting on the bed. Dahmer was holding the handcuff and had the knife pointed at his side.
He said he wanted to get away and thought about jumping out the window. He talked to him, trying to let Dahmer know “I was his friend.”
Edwards said one minute Dahmer was nice. Then he said he didn’t want people to leave him or abandon him. “At times, he wasn’t his self. At times, he was like a nice guy. He would come and go at different times.” He was silent and watched the movie at times.
He started rocking back and forth during certain parts of the movie and was “chanting.”
Edwards couldn’t understand what he was saying. He chanted “off and on throughout the ordeal.”
Dahmer was most interested in the scene in the movie about the preacher who got possessed, said Edwards, who testified it seemed like the serial killer was “interested in that part. That part had his attention more than anything.”
That type of movie, certain parts, “interested him. It was like he changed with it at times. He would get more aggressive.” He would try to get both handcuffs on Edwards because he wanted to feel dominant. He wanted Edwards to lie face down.
“I laid on my side. God told me not to lay flat down and let this person hand cuff me, so I didn’t.”
He put his head across Edwards’ chest. “Like he was listening to my heart because at that point, he told me he was going to eat my heart.”
Edwards unbuttoned his shirt to make Dahmer feel more at ease and sat on the couch.
Dahmer started chanting again and so Edwards said he needed to go to the bathroom. He hit him, and he ran. “I seized the opportunity. At least I’m going to die trying. I’m not going to just sit here. I hit him and I ran…I made it outside.”
This all closely mirrors the Netflix scenes. In real life, Edwards was stuck in Dahmer’s apartment for four hours, trying to get out of the serial killer’s clutches.
He told a Milwaukee police officer that “this freak, this crazy guy was trying to hurt me.” The officers went into the apartment and arrested Dahmer.
A 2001 article by the Associated Press, accessed via Newspapers.com, reported that Edwards escaped Dahmer’s lair when the serial killer wasn’t looking. A handcuff “was still dangling from his wrist” when he flagged down police.
An Associated Press story from 1992 said that Edwards testified that he escaped from Dahmer’s apartment “after seeing a head in the refrigerator and a hand Dahmer had taken from a filing cabinet.”
He said Dahmer started chanting as they watched the “Exorcist” and “laid his head on Edwards’ chest to listen to his heartbeat.”
“He made me look in the refrigerator,” Edwards testified, according to AP.
Edwards Was Accused of Helping Throw a Man Off a Milwaukee Bridge
Edwards went on to have trouble with the law. In 2012, according to Fox 6 Milwaukee, Edwards was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for another crime.
He pleaded guilty to “aiding a felon in a plea agreement with prosecutors in Milwaukee County,” the television reported.
Then 52, Edwards and another man were accused of throwing a homeless man into a river off a downtown bridge during an argument. The man, Johnny Jordan, drowned, the newspaper reported.
According to ABC News, Edwards was initially accused of homicide in that case.
According to ABC News, at the time of his arrest, Edwards was “homeless and had been moving from shelter to shelter since at least 2002.”
In 2018, he was convicted of domestic violence battery in Kenosha, Wisconsin, court records show. After that point, Edwards fell off the public’s radar.
Wisconsin online court records show past convictions for Edwards for things like drug dealing and theft.
READ NEXT: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Cause of Death.