I tend to have a case of FOMO from time to time and jumped on the Making a Murderer bandwagon pretty quick. While I enjoyed the documentary series and thought it was very well made, the whole thing was so depressing I almost stopped watching. Even though I was enthralled. At one point, I made my friend tell me what happens in case I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped pressing the “next episode” button. I had to force myself to finish and I’m glad I did.
This documentary is important because not only does it show the scope of corruption in the United State’s justice system but it also explores small town corruption and class which is something we need to talk about more. I’m not here to say all cops and small towns are bad, just that things like what happened in Making a Murderer probably happen all the time but we don’t hear about it until this documentary took over our Netflix queues.
Don’t continue reading if you haven’t seen the series/don’t like spoilers.
The thing that I found the most shocking about this series wasn’t the horrific crimes committed but rather how the conspiracy against Steven Avery even happened in the first place. How can so many people work together to be so terrible and lie and not a single one of them slip up? It’s obvious Steven Avery is innocent and did not kill Teresa Halbach. I do agree with what one of Avery’s attorneys Dean Strang said. Not sure what the exact quote was but he said something like “I hope Steven is guilty because I hate to think an innocent man is sitting behind bars for something he didn’t do.”
Since we know what happened to Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, everyone wants to know what exactly happened to Teresa Halbach?
As a person who has an M.S. in Criminal Justice and has written a murder mystery, my qualifications and experience have failed me when it comes to this. I have no idea who killed Teresa Halbach. Maybe no one else does either.
One of the most interesting parts of watching this series is looking into the various theories. As someone who loves fan and conspiracy theories, this post is something I’ve been looking forward to.
After some extended Internet research, I have compiled several MAM theories. Here they are listed from least to most likely.
5. Teresa Halbach isn’t dead.
This is by far the most unlikely and far-fetched theory courtesy of Steven Avery’s own mother, Dolores. It makes sense she would convince herself of something like this considering everything that has happened to her son and family. Even though the criminal justice officials involved in this case are terrible people, it seems unlikely they would plant random bones to frame someone when there is more evidence in the case.
Halbach’s car as it was found at the Avery Salvage Yard
4. Ryan Hillegas with help from her brother Mike Halbach
Halbach’s ex-boyfriend appeared sketchy on the stand. It doesn’t take a seasoned homicide detective to know those closest to the victim should be questioned first and are usually guilty. Neither Hillegas or Mike Halbach were treated as suspects or were questioned. The fact Hillegas was able to get into Teresa’s voicemail is majorly incriminating. Reports state Hillegas had stalker tendencies and another theory suggests he might have left threatening voicemails on her phone which is why he deleted her voicemails. Mike Halbach is connected to Hillegas because the two were friends. The big case against Mike is that he mentioned “grieving” for Teresa before her body had even been recovered. Perhaps he was the one who slipped up? The thing that doesn’t make sense to me is that neither one of them lived near the Avery property, which means they (or one of them) had to follow Teresa. These two rubbed me the wrong way from the start. The video below only reinforces my belief. Even with their odd behavior, I’m still not 100% convinced they killed Teresa, but they should have been further investigated and questioned.
3. Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych
These two also seemed suspicious. Tadych is Bobby and Brendan’s stepfather. This theory claims Bobby Dassey and Tadych are the real murderers and Ryan Hillegas and Mike Halbach discovered Teresa’s car at the Avery Salvage Yard, called the police, and James Lenk and Andrew Colburn answered the call and proceeded to frame Steven Avery. The other part of the theory is that Mike and Ryan also were framing Avery for the crime. They knew Teresa was seen on the Avery property which is why they went snooping there in the first place. What this theory boils down to is that there were two Steven Avery frame jobs happening simultaneously. The thought is pretty insane fills in some of the holes in the story, like who Lenk knew about Halbach’s car. Head over to this Reddit post for a better explanation. It’s a crazy theory. Then again, this whole situation is batshit so the original poster might be onto something.
The big thing that gives this theory credit is it goes along with what Steven Avery thinks happened. In 2009, Avery claimed he believed Bobby Dassey and Tadych were responsible for the murder. Tadych has a history of violence against women and was on the property the same time Teresa was murdered as was Bobby. The two men went hunting together that day and were each other’s alibis (huge red flag) as no one else knew where they were the afternoon of October 31 (when Teresa was murdered). Bobby said he showered before they went hunting and had scratches on his back which he blamed on a puppy. From what I’ve gathered hunting is hard and sweaty work so taking a shower before doesn’t seem logical. Teresa was also shot with a .22 rifle which Tadych and Bobby had that day.
This is where I think Brendan Dassey comes in. I do not think he is responsible but I feel like he knew or saw something. Brendan claims he was at home around the time of Teresa’s murder. It’s possible Brendan witnessed Teresa’s death or saw the aftermath. If this is true, then the statment his cousin Kayla Avery gave would not be a lie (as she confessed it was in court). Kayla originally told her school counselor she was worried about Brendan’s weight loss and that he told her he saw body parts in a fire. Brendan’s low I.Q. caused him to be easily manipulated by officials. Although I don’t think he is low functioning enough not to defend himself. Maybe he felt guilty because of whatever reason and didn’t have the mental capacity to fight back, or felt like he shouldn’t.
Considering Tadych, Bobby Dassey and everyone else in the Avery family were on the property that day, any of them could have seen (or been responsible for) Teresa’s murder.
2. Steven Avery
He did it and was framed. The police screwed up and here we are today. We don’t want to think Steven is guilty, but he could be. It’s simple, obvious and hopefully not true. This brings me back to Kayla. Check out her frist written statement. The spelling and writing are terrible, FYI. She clearly doesn’t like Steven and mentions she thinks Brendan “did something.” She also mentioned to her school counselor she was afraid because Steven asked one of her cousins to move a body, but never mentioned the cousin by name. Maybe she wasn’t lying after all?
- Steven’s brothers Charles and Earl
Steven himself has also said he believes one of his brothers could have killed Teresa. Considering they also lived on the Avery property and both had histories of sexual violence towards women. In 1999, Charles raped and tried to kill his wife. He was also known to make aggressive and unwanted advances towards female customers at the Avery Salvage Yard. Charles was also jealous of Steven’s potential settlement he was supposed to get from his first wrongful conviction and of his then-girlfriend Jodi Stachowski. Jodi claimed Charles came into the house she shared with Steven with a shotgun and said she was “terrified of Chuckie”.
Earl, the youngest of the Avery brothers sexually assaulted his own daughters in 1995. He was also a hunter who would have access to weapons. Earl is only in a brief scene in the series, which makes him all the more suspicious. Steven himself cited “ [Earl] hid from police when they came to take a DNA sample on Nov. 9, 2005. When the investigators went to his home, he hid in an upstairs bedroom under some clothes.”
These theories here are the just the beginning. We might never know what truly happened to Teresa Halbach on October 31, 2005.If you are interested in finding out more theories/ideas, Google is your friend. Be prepared to be taken down a rabbit hole.