If you have watched the bizarre true-life story, Making A Murderer, then you are told the “facts” from a heavily one-sided but very well done crime documentary. From someone who was in the state of WI., followed this case from the 2003 prison release, throughout the lawsuit, the evidence findings and the whole mess of media coverage from the investigation to murder trial, there is a lot I do remember from the time the documentary takes place. What I do remember, I am finding out was a lot of mixed messages and what we find out now were just plain lies or bits of truth. With Making A Murderer, now I am afforded the opportunity to take what I know, facts the series divulges, and what can be found from very reliable sources.
Like I said in Part One of PopCultHQ’s Making A Murderer Special 4-part report, I had already made up my mind many years ago not knowing all the behind-the-scenes motions. But you have to scrutinize everything, piece together the many parts of the puzzle by going back to news accounts, documents, and some court transcripts from the time. Those are interesting and shocking to see and hear in the documentary series, of the ways a “case” for murder was made. So relax your emotions and step back a bit, you will find that the bigger picture gets much clearer when you do.
When I was living in Wisconsin, I had already made up my mind that Avery was guilty at the time with the information I knew. After doing my own research and watching the series with no bias, have I changed my mind? Keep reading the next two parts coming in our Making A Murder Special.
Here are facts from the case that you also may not have heard yet (coming from articles around the internet): A big help in starting this article was following the work done in an article called 14 pieces of troubling evidence “Making a Murderer” left out or glossed over by Jessica McBride, her credentials are below. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was a constant news source for me even back in the early 2000’s during the Steve Avery innocence release. I give the facts I’ve found and a small opinion (I’m keeping my main opinions close to the vest for the next two articles), Is There a Conspiracy? and Who Done It?
The facts around Steven Avery that were not included in the NETFLIX series
- The car key unearthed in Avery’s residence had DNA from his sweat on it. From the Milwaukee magazine article, “A state analyst determined blood from the car and dried perspiration on the car key matched Steven Avery’s DNA.” Kratz also detailed this contention in his opening statement in the Dassey trial, according to the transcript, saying the crime lab analyst recovered a full DNA profile of Avery from the sweat on this key.
While the series main focus was on there only being DNA from Avery, there was no trace of Halbach’s DNA found at all. Meaning Halbach’s key, which she has had with her for years, had no signs of her DNA at all? That is very strange.
- Branden Dassey’s own mother, said Dassey helped Avery clean his garage floor. The Milwaukee Magazine article further stated that, “On February 27, Dassey’s mother spoke with police investigators. Barbara Janda, 41, mentioned that her son had stained his pants while helping his uncle clean his garage floor around Halloween.” Also, according to the Department of Justice investigator’s testimony in Dassey’s trial, Dassey’s pants had bleach stains that he said were from helping clean the garage, transcripts say.
- Avery called Auto Trader magazine about the van being sold by his sister, Barb Janda, who lived next door. This time he identified himself as “B. Janda” and gave Janda’s phone number. Halbach returned the call about 11:35 a.m. to Janda’s home. The brief message she left on Janda’s answering machine was played in court. About three hours after leaving the message, Halbach was seen taking pictures of the van by a bus driver and kids on the bus but was never seen from again. These calls came in about 2:30 p.m. Also according to an Associated Press article from Feb. 28, 2007, “The third call was placed about two hours later” (that would make it around 4:30pm) It “lasted 13 seconds,” and the phone company worker “couldn’t tell if it was answered or went into voicemail.”
From the same AP story, “Prosecutors are trying to convince a jury that Avery lured Halbach to the family salvage yard by booking an appointment with the magazine, using the name of his sister Barb Janda, to take a picture of a red minivan that Janda wanted to sell.” This could be explained by the fact that it was his sister’s car that Halbach was to photograph. I have not been able to verify if Steve Avery admits to making any of those calls.
- Lenk’s Denials – On the day they heard Teresa Halbach’s voice for the first time, the jurors in Steven Avery’s trial also heard the first direct denials of allegations that Avery’s blood was planted in Halbach’s car. Manitowoc County sheriff’s Lt. James Lenk flatly stated he did not plant blood. When Dean Strang, Avery’s lead attorney, expressed doubt that Lenk would confess to such an act, Lenk went a step further. “If I did it,” Lenk testified, “I would admit it.” On Tuesday, both Lenk and Sgt. Andrew Colborn had denied general allegations of planting evidence. Wednesday’s testimony by Lenk was the first specifically about blood. A central piece of Avery’s defense is that investigators put Avery’s blood — from a vial left unsecured in the Manitowoc County Courthouse — in Halbach’s SUV. Her blood also was found in the SUV. Halbach’s voice was heard Wednesday during less tense testimony. The recording brought three women sitting with Halbach’s family to tears.
- The burnt bone fragments were mixed with steel tire belts. According to the criminal complaint, “Officers also located remnants of steel belts of tires, tires that appear to have been utilized as fire accelerants.” A Nov. 15, 2005 Wisconsin State Journal article reported that, “Investigators also said in the court documents that they found steel belts of about six tires that were used as fire accelerants. They also found a number of 5-gallon buckets that appeared to have been used to distribute burned remains.” Kratz told People Magazine the bone fragments “were ‘intertwined’ with the steel belts.”
- Halbach’s Palm Pilot and camera were found in Avery’s burn barrel – not in any of the two burn pits. This bit of information was not a main focus in the documentary series. The placement of the phone that was found in the burn barrel was under piles of bones. There are two burn pits. The bonfire site next to the barrel that is the focus of the court’s case where the bulk of bones of Halbach were reported found. The other site is located near the spot Halbach’s car was found and is at the opposite corner of the Avery property where Steven’s trailer is located. This original burn site (where Teresa’s pelvic bone is found) is the one presented by the defense as the burn site where bones could have been moved over to the bonfire site and the burn barrel.
- A propane delivery man says he saw the Rav leave the Avery property while he was filling up his tank at a nearby station. He says that he usually fills up at 3:30 and it takes a half an hour.
- Halbach’s licence plates were found in another car on the junkyard grounds.
- Avery’s blood was found in six places in the Halbach vehicle, and DNA from his sweat was found on a hood latch. In Kratz’ opening statement in the Dassey trial transcript, he told the jury that the Avery blood was found on the ignition of the vehicle, on a CD case and on seats. He mentioned that Avery had a cut on his finger. He also stated that the state crime lab analyst had found DNA from Avery’s sweat on the hood latch of the Halbach vehicle.
- With Avery’s rifle matching the bullet with the Halbach DNA on it, they arrested Steven on Wednesday after they discovered two guns in his trailer. Convicted felons aren’t allowed to possess firearms in Wisconsin. Ex-DA Mr. Kratz also said a bullet with Ms. Halbach’s DNA on it found in Mr. Avery’s garage was matched to a rifle that hung over Mr. Avery’s bed. The gun was confiscated when officers searched his trailer on Nov. 5, 2005, and the bullet was found in the garage in March 2006, Mr. Kratz said. “If they planted it, how did they get a bullet that was shot from Avery’s gun before Nov. 5?” In Dassey’s confusing interview with police, the teen also said his uncle used a gun that hung above his bed. Dassey said the bullet in the garage came from a specific gun of Avery’s that hung on Avery’s wall and that forensic testing matched the bullet with the Halbach DNA to this specific gun. This bullet was found months later by a Manitowoc law enforcement officer after others missed it during repeated searches.
The Dassey “confession” should be tossed out and ignored. Dassey is not even a reliable witness to himself let alone this entire law process. Nothing in the Dassey “confession” was ever found to have any corroborated evidence. The bullet found by a Manitowoc officer is also very suspect. Both of the DA’s cases say the murder happened in two different locations, either the bed or garage. Not a single drop of Halbach’s blood or DNA were ever found on the gun itself, or the garage other than the suspect bullet found four months later, that needed a test so sensitive it found microscopic blood, which the chemist even contaminated this evidence not leaving more bullet to test. No knife was recovered.
- Coroner’s rights – By state statute, she (the coroner) should have been allowed to investigate early reports of possible human bones being found outside of Avery’s trailer, he said. Strang (Steven Avery’s Lawyer) said the coroner had also received calls from the Manitowoc County executive and the county’s top attorney not to investigate the case. He said they had emphasized that Calumet County authorities had taken control of the case to avoid any conflict of interest, given that Avery was suing Manitowoc County for $36 million at the time. The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, however, concluded it was not a conflict for its deputies to assist in the investigation — even though Avery’s suit said the department violated his civil rights when he was wrongly convicted of a 1985 sexual assault. “I do think that’s a double standard,” Strang said of the Sheriff’s Department participating in the investigation but not the coroner. “I don’t know the reasons, but that’s what juries are for.“
- Deputies drew DNA samples from several members of the Avery family on the day of Steven’s arrest.
- Avery allegedly molested Dassey. In a phone conversation shown in the documentary, Dassey admits his role in Halbach’s murder to his mother — a statement he later denies. However, the show cut out an important revelation in which Dassey said his uncle inappropriately touched him. “I even told them about Steven touching me,” the then 16-year-old said, according to the transcript of the conversation. He goes on to tell his shocked mother that he and his brothers were touched on occasions before the Halbach murder.
- The Avery brothers have been in and out of trouble. According to court documents:
– Chuck, 51, was charged with sexual assault in 1988 but was acquitted. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and got 12 months probation. His probation was revoked six months later and he was sentenced to 60 days in jail. In 1999, his former wife accused him of sexual assault and wrapping a phone cord around her neck. A charge of sexual assault was dismissed.
– Earl, 35, pleaded no contest to battery and sexual assault and got three years of probation on each charge. In 1992, he pleaded no contest to a charge of battery for attacking his wife. He got 18 months’ probation.
– Steven was convicted in 1981 of burglary. He got five years probation, which was revoked in 1982 after he was charged with animal cruelty for pouring gasoline on a cat and throwing it into a bonfire. In 1985, he was convicted of sexual assault; he was sentenced to 32 years in prison but was freed in 2003 after DNA samples exonerated him. Furthermore, reported the newspaper, “The filings also include statements from a woman, now 41, who said she was raped by Avery, who told her ‘if she yelled or screamed there was going to be trouble.’ There also is an affidavit from a girl who said she was raped by Avery. ‘The victim’s mother indicated that the victim does not want to speak about the sexual assault between her and Steven Avery because Steven Avery told her if she ‘told anyone about their activities together he would kill her family,‘” the filing said. According to the newspaper article, “The affidavit said Avery admitted to his fiancée that he had sexually assaulted the girl.”
Things that I find have no relevance at all to the case but these facts keep coming up
- Avery and his girlfriend had a less than rosy relationship at times. The Netflix documentary paints the romance of Jodi and Steven as a positive one. It may have been in some ways, but there were also some problems. According to the Milwaukee magazine story, “In September 2004, sheriff deputies arrested Avery for violating a disorderly conduct ordinance after an altercation with (Jodi) Stachowski. The court ordered him to stay away from the woman for 72 hours and pay a fine of $243.”
- Avery had drawn a torture chamber while in prison and was violent to other women. According to an Appleton Post Crescent article from March 9, 2006, “While he was in prison, Steven Avery planned the torture and killing of a young woman, new documents released Wednesday indicate. The allegations are included in 22 pages of court documents accompanying additional charges filed by (none other than) Calumet County Dist. Atty. Ken Kratz. … Kratz also included in Wednesday’s filings statements from prisoners who served time with Avery at Green Bay Correctional Institution. They said Avery talked about and showed them diagrams of a torture chamber he planned to build when he was released.”
I have not seen or heard that any actual drawing exist, only the 22-page written report from Kratz does. The fact this is coming from rumors or second-hand word from inmates, makes it more unbelievable since Kratz is the one to mention this now in interviews with People Magazine.
- Leg irons and handcuffs were found in Avery’s residence and in Dassey’s. The criminal complaint contended that authorities “located items of restraints within Steven Avery’s residence including hand cuffs and leg irons.” According to a lengthy Milwaukee Magazine story from May 1, 2006, Avery admitted they were his, stating of the handcuffs and leg irons, “I bought them. I wanted to try out something different with Jodi (his girlfriend).” According to the testimony of the Department of Justice investigator in Dassey’s trial, that’s not the only place such items were found. He testified that leg irons and handcuffs were also found in both Avery’s, and also Dassey’s mother’s, residence, although on cross-examination the investigator stated that Brendan Dassey’s prints and DNA weren’t on them. In other words, it was not proven at all that these belonged to Dassey. But they were there, according to court transcripts.
On the other hand, Halbach’s DNA, also never turn up on any of these handcuffs and leg irons if they were ever used to restrain her. The whole sexual assault story told by ex-DA Kratz during the news conference has NEVER been proven. No blood, no scratches to bed posts, no knife, or shot in the bedroom ever took place.
- Avery once opened his door “just wearing a towel” when Halbach went to his property previously. There’s evidence for this one, but never allowed in trial. This was one of Kratz’ claims to People Magazine. According to People Magazine, “He cites Halbach’s Oct. 10, 2005 visit to the property owned by Avery’s family for a photo shoot for Auto Trader magazine: According to Kratz, Avery allegedly opened his door ‘just wearing a towel. She was creeped out [by him]. … She [went to her employer and] said she would not go back because she was scared of him.'” According to an Associated Press story from Feb. 14, 2007, the judge “would not allow Dawn Pliszka, an Auto Trader receptionist at the time, to testify about one of Halbach’s previous encounters with Avery,” said the story, continuing: “She had stated to me that he had come out in a towel,” Pliszka said while the jury was outside of the courtroom. “I just said, ‘Really?’ and then she said, ‘Yeah,’ and laughed and said kinda ‘Ew.‘”
The AP article said the judge would not allow the testimony to be heard by the jury “because the date wasn’t clear and few details were known about the alleged encounter.” So that means I will also not take this to be sworn testimony. If the defense can’t use second-hand knowledge, why should the State be able to use it to accuse people of a crime?
- Pornography was recovered in Avery’s residence. The Wisconsin State Journal reported on Nov. 12, 2005 that officers recovered “pornographic material, according to the search warrants.”
If this a crime, half the men in the world would be locked up.
- The previous animal cruelty case involved a bonfire. This animal abuse incident was mentioned in the documentary, but not in great detail, and to me was sort of misleading from Avery’s own words in the documentary. According to an Associated Press story from Nov. 20, 2005, “Steven was convicted in 1981 of burglary. He got five years probation, which was revoked in 1982 after he was charged with animal cruelty for pouring gasoline on a cat and throwing it into a bonfire.” In the documentary they make it sound like Steven was a child or adolescent when this incident happened. This actually took place when Steven Avery was grown up with his first wife and two kids. Steven was born in 1962, so this would make him 20 years old.
Ex-DA Kratz loves to bring this up to show that if Steven Avery is capable of doing this to a cat, he must be capable of doing the same to a human. Does not make it right, does not excuse Avery’s actions, but it happens way more than you may think in America, especially at that time in the early 80’s. Living in the Midwest myself and knowing the way of life small-town living in Wisconsin can be, it is not very uncommon for kids or even grown-ups to recently be found guilty of cruelty to small animals even today. For example, a highly covered case in Wisconsin of grown well-to-do male snowmobilers massacred a flock of geese for fun.
- Steven Avery has his own theories…In 2009, Steven Avery alleged in legal documents that his two brothers Earl and Charles both have a history of sexual violence against women, and that they in fact could be guilty of Teresa Halbach’s murder. Avery suggests that the motive could have been jealousy due to the multi-million dollar settlement
- What ever happened to Steven’s first wife, Lori, and their children? Lori moved to a nearby town in Wisconsin, and coincidentally enough, married Brendan’s father, Peter Dassey . Some outlets have pointed out that Steven’s first kids no longer speak to him. As the case receives widespread publicity, Lori and the kids seem to be staying out of the limelight. Hope that helps provide just a bit more insight into what people have seeing and reading on the Internet for the Netflix original series Making A Murderer.
- What happened to Jodi (Steven’s ex-girlfriend)? (Via; Blender) According to what appears to be Stachowski’s Facebook page, she now resides in Appleton, Wisconsin — about 45 miles from Manitowoc. Her profile also indicates that she’s currently single and is a big fan of a variety of musicians and TV shows. Stachowski has not made a statement about Making a Murderer or the renewed interest in her ex-boyfriend’s case. However, records on the Wisconsin Court System’s website show that she’s had ongoing legal troubles of her own — ranging from DWIs to disorderly conduct. Her criminal record dates back to 1997. According to those records, in April 2007, she was found guilty of using worthless checks — and since it happened in Waushara County, it appears that she moved away from Manitowoc shortly after her release from prison in March 2006, after her fifth offense of driving under the influence. This lines up with the documentary’s timeline, which shows that she eventually left the town in order to obey her parole officer’s demands that she stop keeping in contact with Avery. Those same court records also show that in December 2007, Stachowski was found guilty of disorderly conduct — a Class B misdemeanor. She was arrested three times in 2009 (also in Waushara County). One of the charges was dropped as part of a plea agreement, and the other two were for bail-jumping and driving while her license was revoked. After that period of multiple arrests, Stachowski stayed out of trouble until 2015. She also must have relocated to Appleton during that time, because her most recent offense is the only one that occurred in Outagamie County (where Appleton is located). In April, she was found guilty of operating while suspended — which isn’t a criminal charge, and resulted in a fine.
- Is Steven still with his girlfriend that was seen in the last episode of Making A Murderer? Because Greenman is in the last episode of Making a Murderer, it’s implied that she is still Avery’s girlfriend. And, according to what appears to be her Facebook page, she is still listed as “in a relationship.” Since she first wrote to Avery in 2007 and the documentary has her stating that they’ve known each other for seven years, then the filmmakers behind Making a Murderer spoke to her around 2014/2015, making their relationship still intact as of pretty recently. As for Avery, Greenman seems to provide some much-needed solace as he lives his days out in jail. In the documentary he sums up his relationship with her saying, “Sandy’s mostly the important person in my life and you might figure, my future.“
Source) BBC, NY Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Blender and
14 pieces of troubling evidence “Making a Murderer” left out or glossed over; Jessica McBride spent a decade as an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is a former City Hall reporter/current columnist for the Waukesha Freeman. She is the recipient of national and state journalism awards in topics that include short feature writing, investigative journalism, spot news reporting, magazine writing, blogging, web journalism, column writing, and background/interpretive reporting.