Rachel Mason first heard about Billy Newton while she was working on her first film, Circus of Books. The Netflix documentary was about her parents’ adult bookstore, which was a hub of the underground gay scene in Los Angeles. She met with a photographer who had once shot some performers she wanted to feature in the film, and stumbled on an old newspaper clipping in one of his scrapbooks.
The article detailed the 1990 murder of a Billy Newton, who was born in Eau Claire in 1965. Newton moved to California in 1984, where he began working in gay pornographic films under the name Billy London. Newton was last seen on Oct. 28, 1990, leaving Rage Nightclub in West Hollywood. His dismembered body was found in a dumpster the next morning by a homeless man. That was where the story ended. In the three decades since, it has remained unsolved.
In 2020, the podcast “TDPS Presents Christopher and Eric,” with novelists Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn, did an episode about the case, which led to a potential eyewitness coming forward who said that he saw Newton leaving Rage Nightclub the night of the murder with a man who looked extremely similar to Jeffrey Dahmer, who would be arrested nine months later for multiple murders in Milwaukee.
“Jeffrey Dahmer’s whereabouts at the moment when Billy went missing and was killed and dismembered are heretofore unknown,” says Mason.
Sparked by this lead, Mason has started investigating the Dahmer connection herself. She notes that Dahmer was asked about Billy Newton in a police interview after his arrest and denied committing the murder. But she adds that California law at the time included the death penalty, and a confession to a murder there could have opened Dahmer up to the possibility of execution.
Mason is now working on a documentary, titled Pretty Boy Blue, about the Newton murder and is trying to find sources who could reveal more information about Newton or any possible Dahmer connection. She is looking for anyone who knew or saw Dahmer in October of 1990 and could provide any information about his whereabouts.
“Maybe it was a coworker who knew that he was getting in his car for a trip somewhere,” she says. “Maybe he flat out told somebody he was going to visit his mom in California. Or maybe it was someone who saw him leave.”
Mason asks that anyone who has any information email email@example.com.
“There is a chunk of [Dahmer’s] life and his story that is still unknown,” Mason says. “I’m just really making this urgent plea to the Greater Milwaukee community, if anyone knows anything.”
She’s also looking for anyone who may have known Billy Newton when he grew up in Eau Claire and could speak about him.