The Netflix true crime documentary series Making a Murderer appears to have persuaded thousands of viewers that its subject, Steven Avery — currently in prison for killing and burning the body of 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach on Halloween of 2005 — is innocent, apparently framed by local police who had it in for him after he was exonerated of a previous rape after 18 years behind bars.
A Change.org petition has already gathered more than 100,000 signatures calling not just for a new trial for Avery (pictured above) — but for his full pardon. A similar petition on the Whitehouse.gov site has amassed 18,000 signers.
Viewers who haven’t yet seen Making a Murderer can watch the first full episode of the 10-part series streaming free, courtesy of Netflix, in the video below.
But if Avery is indeed innocent, an assertion still vehemently disputed by the Wisconsin prosecutors who put him behind bars for a second time, this time for life, then the true murderer of Teresa Halbach is still out there — somewhere. Making a Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi never venture, in the documentary, into speculation as to who that killer could be, even though identifying the true killer would provide Avery with the full exoneration that he seeks and needs to win his freedom a second time.
But Avery’s defense lawyers did have not just one, but at least four other possible suspects in the murder of Halbach, and last week Jessica McBride, a reporter for the Milwaukee online magazine On Milwaukee dug through court filings to find descriptions of the four suspects. The defense team was prohibited by a judge from offering alternative “third party” theories during the trial of Steven Avery.
None of the four have been formally accused or named as suspects by law enforcement in the Halbach murder case. Their names come from court filings by Avery’s defense attorneys, seeking a new trial for their imprisoned client.
Online amateur Sherlocks on the internet forum Reddit have come up with a number of alternative Making a Murderer suspect theories as well, and while most may be far-fetched, at least one appears to match a suspect on the list compiled by McBride.
That would be Scott Tadych, brother-in-law to Steven Avery who, the court records show, had a previous history of violent offenses, including an alleged assault against a former girlfriend. Tadych’s alibi for the time that Halbach was murdered relied entirely on Bobby Dassey, older brother of Brendan Dassey, the learning-disabled teen convicted of aiding Avery in Halbach’s rape and murder.
According to the court documents — which can be read at this link, as well as this link and this link — Tadych engaged in suspicious behavior following the murder, offering to sell a.22 rifle to a co-worker — a.22 was alleged to be the murder weapon — and leaving work early “a nervous wreck” saying that one of his stepsons, the Dasseys, had “blood on his clothes” and that blood may have been transferred to his own clothes in the laundry.
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McBride also identifies a “Person Number Two,” who is named in the defense lawyers’ court filings as Steven Avery’s brother, Charles Avery — who also had a record of violence against women, once even attempting to his then-wife with a telephone cord. Charles Avery also behaved in a sexually aggressive, stalker-like way toward women who were customers of the Avery Salvage Yard, the family business.
The documents cited by McBride also named another brother of Steven Avery, Earl Avery, as a possible suspect in the Making a Murderer case. Earl had earlier been charged with sexually assaulting his own two daughters. On the day that Halbach vanished, the documents say, Earl Avery was driving a golf cart around the Avery property with a gun, shooting at rabbits.
The final alternative suspect proposed in the documents by Steven Avery’s defense team and identified by McBride as “Person Number Four,” was Bobby Dassey who, according to the court documents, offered “suspicious” explanations of his whereabouts at the time Hlabach was killed, and just as Tadych’s only alibi was Bobby Dassey, Dassey’s only alibi was Tadych.
It is important to remember that none of those four individuals have ever been arrested or charged with anything to do with the murder of Teresa Halbach. The defense included their names in the court documents in 2009 as part of a motion arguing that Steven Avery had been denied a fair trail because the defense was prevented from introducing any other potential suspects — and the contention that Avery was, in effect, railroaded is the central theme of the Netflix Making a Murderer documetary series.
[Featured Photo by Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office]