Although it is believed that Brendan Dassey was interrogated at a Wisconsin hotel before his arrest, his mother says those reports are not accurate.
Barb Tadych (Barb Janda in Making a Murderer) says she vividly remembers February 27, 2006. It was the day police took her son out of school and questioned him before bringing her, Brendan and her other son, Blaine, to the Fox Hills Resort, in the town of Mishicot, where she says she was threatened.
“Mark Wiegert paid for [the room] with his credit card,” Barb said. “And he told me if I left, they would pick me up and put me in jail.”
Making a Murderer viewers know Mark Wiegert as the Calumet County Sheriff’s deputy who served as the lead investigator in the Teresa Halbach case. He has also been accused of eliciting a false confession from Dassey two days after the overnight stay at Fox Hills.
Wiegert hasn’t commented on whether he threatened to arrest Barb that night. He testified at Dassey’s trial that she and her sons were brought to the resort because he feared for their safety, Brendan had just told them he saw Halbach’s body in Steven Avery’s fire.
Wisconsin Special Agent Tom Fassbender was also at the hotel and claims Barb told him that she saw bleach stains on Dassey’s jeans the night of the murder, stains the state claims occurred while he helped clean Halbach’s blood from Steven Avery’s garage floor. It is what police say prompted them to retrieve the pants from Barb’s house.
“Agent Fassbender informed me that he went back to Mr. Dassey and his mother later on the 27th, that evening, and asked Mr. Dassey about the pants,” Wiegert said at trial. “And that’s the first time Mr. Dassey, Brendan, ever told us about stains on his pants, cleaning up the garage floor. So now he puts himself further into it. Puts himself in that garage later on [October 31, 2005].”
There’s one problem with Weigert’s account of what occurred at the resort, Barb says. It never happened.
“There was not any interrogation at Fox Hills like they said that there was,” Barb said. “They put us there so no one could talk to us. And they had a cop watching us so we wouldn’t leave. There was no meeting at the hotel.”
Barb and police give conflicting accounts about why she was not present when her son was being questioned. Wiegert claimed she declined, while Barb says she was blocked by Wiegert himself.
Dassey was first questioned on February 27, when Wiegert and Fassbender pulled him out of class at Mishicot High School. Audio of the meeting was captured, but it was of poor quality, so Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz suggested they obtain a better one. The investigators complied and pulled Dassey out of class again, conducting the second interview at the Two Rivers Police Department.
“I told them I wanted to go in with Brendan and they told me, ‘No,’ to go have a seat, that it should only take about an hour,” Barb said.
She recounts a similar exchange ahead of the March 1 interrogation.
“They said I declined to come in, but that was not the truth,” she said. “They told me ‘No,’ because Brendan was going to tell them a ‘gruesome story.'”
Dassey was read his Miranda rights on his way to the March 1 interview, and reminded of those rights by Wiegert before questioning began, indicating he was a suspect, not a witness by then. The approximately three-hour interrogation is the basis of Dassey’s pending case in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
“That’s all they did was lie,” Barb said of the interrogation, after which Dassey recanted his confession.
Wiegert and Fassbender admitted to using deception while questioning Dassey, including their attempt to convince him they had superior knowledge of what happened to Teresa Halbach. It’s not the use of deception that’s being scrutinized though. Police are permitted lie.
For the last 10 years Dassey’s lawyers have argued that Wiegert and Fassbender used deception to feed information to a learning-disabled 16-year-old boy, who told them what they wanted to hear over three hours without a parent or lawyer present.
“It was all put into his head like Brendan said,” Barb said.
The state claims Dassey’s confession was voluntary and that he should continue serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 2048.
[Featured Image by Eric Young/AP Images]