Like everyone else who watched the Netflix documentary series, Making a Murderer, I was outraged at the incredible behavior of the police department, the lawyers prosecuting, and the lab technicians working on the case. So of course, I decided to dig around a bit and see what additional information I could get about the case. Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen it. It’s an engrossing story so I highly recommend watching it by the way.
The series claims that both Steve and his nephew were innocent of all charges made against them in the murder of Teresa Haibach. The defense for the case states that it’s difficult to say who actually did this crime because other suspects were not investigated throughly including a roommate and a boyfriend. To be honest, there is a lot of evidence that supports the theory that police framed Steven Avery. I’ll use bullet points to make it a bit easier to read.
- Steven’s girlfriend at the time had a phone call with Steven at 5:30pm and 8:45pm night of the murder.
- The police officer who called in Teresa’s plate number gave the dispatcher the description of her vehicle days before it was found.
- No fingerprints were found in the car suggesting that the perpetrator wore gloves, however blood DNA was found and the only cut on Steven was on his hand.
- Every witness who testified against Steven gave inconsistent testimony.
- Teresa’s key is found on the 7th entry of the home, yet it’s in plain sight.
- The blood sample from the 1985 case showed clear signs that it had been tampered with.
- The car was found covered with tree branches though there is a crusher on property that had been in use that day.
- Teresa’s roommate didn’t report her as a missing person even after she failed to show up or respond to calls for a few days.
- The house and garage were filled with Steven’s DNA, but absent of any trace of Teresa’s DNA.
- Experts explained the difficulty Steven would have had to clean up high velocity splatter on the cluttered premises.
Of course, the defense didn’t present the only theory that would absolve Steven Avery from the crime. The internet has gone wild with speculation about what actually happened. Everything from slight variations of the defense used in court, to more outlandish theories, such as Teresa had taken photos of a state-police-owned pot farm (or something like this) and that the state police were part of a satanic cult offering Teresa up as a sacrifice, have come up. While it’s true, there are a lot of unanswered questions and a whole pile of obvious lies, I doubt some of these stranger theories are the truth. In fact, I’m not sure I’m ready to absolve Avery of any guilt just yet. There are a number of things that suggest Avery could have very well been the killer.
- Avery manipulates his family. You can hear it even in the Making a Murderer phone clips where he threatens to kill himself if his family doesn’t leverage every last asset and dollar to get him free.
- The blood samples in Teresa’s vehicle were lacking the preservative, EDTA, which should have been present had the sample come from the 1985 case file.
- Halbach complained to her boss that she didn’t want to go to Avery’s because previously Steve came out in a towel.
- Avery put his sisters name down as the listing agent on the car for sale.
- Halbach was specifically requested by Avery to shoot the photos for Auto Trader.
- Avery described the rape-and-tourture of women to inmates he served time with.
- Avery made statements of violence against his previous lovers both verbal and written.
- Animal abuse, as displayed in the one instance where Avery was caught torturing the family cat, is an early sign that a child is mentally unwell and at risk of harming others.
To me, the only thing that is clear in this case is that everyone is lying. That may not be unusual for a court case, I couldn’t tell you. After thinking about this case more than I rightfully should, I think the most likely scenario is something like this.
In a small town, people know each other. There are real repercussions for reporting even small crimes. Can you imagine reporting your neighbor for animal abuse and then living next to them for the next 30 years? Or what about a bar fight between two people that everyone knows hate each other? You’d probably just brush it off as “business as usual” and tell your children or friends that these are the sort of people to avoid being. If you’re not from a small town, you probably don’t understand, but many small crimes go unreported. Instead this knowledge of who is a shady character is passed along through gossip. It’s highly likely that Avery committed other crimes although he didn’t get caught for anything other than the four occasions mentioned in Making a Murderer.
Child psychologists strongly suggest that parents who notice children abusing animals should be treated for mental illness. Even just the one documented case with the cat is enough to make me think Avery is capable of harming a person. I assume the town all agreed that these were no-good type people too from the gossip and rumors that got passed around. It’s clear that the police had this bias in their head too as they wrongful tried Avery for the crime committed in 1985 despite having evidence that would prove him innocent.
My theory is these police strongly suspected Avery was the murderer despite not having substantial evidence to prove it. I assume, like most people, they hated seeing someone they know as a bad person walk free so they planted the vehicle, the blood, the key, and possibly other things to ensure the charges stuck.
While I don’t blame them if that was the case, I think it’s important to point out just how incredibly flawed that logic is. A police officer’s duty is not to enforce justice. A police officer exists to establish and sustain order. The jury should be the only people aloud to pass judgement and stacking evidence against someone, while tempting, is still wrong. In my mind, I think the jury did a good job with a tough case, and I hope for everyones sake that Avery was in fact the killer.