Hello, my fellow true-crime lovers! In the first Chelsea’s Crime Corner, I talked about serial killer Ted Bundy (and subsequently author Ann Rule). Today, I am going to discuss the first part of the Netflix documentary Making A Murderer*.
When the documentary premiered in 2015, everyone was talking about it. Its popularity made me watch the series as well and I binge-watched it! Because part two will be available on Netflix on October 19th, I decided it was time for a re-watch.
I intend to focus on true crime books in these Chelsea’s Crime Corners, but considering this series’ popularity, I wanted to post an in-depth discussion nonetheless. Note that these reviews contain spoilers and I discuss elements I find worth exploring, so this e.g. isn’t a summary of the documentary.
Making a Murderer is about Steven Avery – who was previously exonerated of a violent sexual assault crime as a result of new DNA evidence – and his cousin Brendan Dassey, who are accused of murdering local photographer Teresa Halbach.
Personally, I have no doubts evidence was tampered with. Certain investigators had a motive, as they were being sued by Avery for their involvement in his previous wrongful conviction. They presumably believed him to be guilty of the murder of Halbach and by planting that evidence, they wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get away with it.
That said, just because evidence was tampered with, doesn’t mean Avery is innocent. It does, however, mean that he should get a new trial and those pieces of evidence shouldn’t be included. During this re-watch, I wanted to see whether there are enough other elements that prove his guilt. Here are some points that reveal that Avery is not guilty:
Avery’s blood and DNA were found on the crime scene (e.g. in the victim’s car), but no fingerprints were found. The box in which a vial with Avery’s blood was held – which law enforcement had access to from his previous conviction – was wrongfully opened and there’s a hole the size of a needle in the vial. Another piece of evidence that was likely planted, is the key to the victim’s car, which was found in Avery’s bedroom after several searches had been done there previously.
Two days before Halbach’s car was officially found, one of those cops was probably looking at it. This indicates that he interfered with the car and Avery’s property wasn’t the place her vehicle was originally dumped by the murderer.
During Avery’s trial, we learn that someone accessed Teresa Halbach’s voice-mail after her death. Her ex-boyfriend and her brother admitted in court they knew the password. Maybe someone close to her, rather than Avery who wouldn’t have known her password, had something to hide and therefore deleted voice-mail messages.
One of the most infuriating aspects of the trial and something that happens too often, is the untrustworthy work of DNA-analysts. Forensic evidence is crucial in nearly every murder trial, so if that cannot be trusted, what can be? People who analyse DNA, blood samples, etc. should be impartial and investigators should not indicate which results they hope to find.
Apparently, when the jury first got together, seven believed Avery was innocent, three thought he was guilty and two were undecided. If that’s the case, what does ‘reasonable doubt’ even mean? Granted I am absolutely not an expert when it comes to this subject matter, but when opinions are so divided, doesn’t that indicate that the jury can’t say beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s guilty?
When reading everything I mentioned above, one might be quick to say “He’s being framed! He’s innocent!”. I thought so as well. But, like I said, corrupt cops and false evidence doesn’t necessarily mean the defendant is innocent.
If Steven Avery didn’t murder her, than who committed the crime? In the documentary, no other suspects are brought forward. The person responsible had to know how badly law enforcement would want to blame Avery. Additionally, they had to have known Avery held a bonfire the very night she was murdered and to plant the evidence exactly there. And I find that highly unlikely. Either it was a complete coincidence Avery held a bonfire that night, or someone knew and took advance of that. That means the killer(s) must have been someone close to him. Perhaps his cousin Bobby, or his brother-in-law Scott Tadych? I will come back to this later.
Unfortunately, there’s a number of information that wasn’t included in the documentary. I did some research and this is what I believe you need to know, because it makes Avery seem more and more guilty:
While I believe Avery’s blood was placed inside the victim’s car, apparently, sweat was found underneath the hood (source). Law enforcement had access to his blood, but they probably didn’t have a vial of his sweat…
Teresa Halbach and Steven Avery had met previously. He was only wearing a towel and afterwards, she had told her employer she didn’t want to go back there. On the day she was killed, Avery called the magazine Teresa worked for and specifically requested her. He might even have given a fake name. Additionally, he used a hidden phone number to call her. You can find all this information here. This is incriminating and makes me think that’s exactly the reason why the documentary didn’t mention it.
(TW: abuse, rape) According to this article, Avery has been accused of violence against women prior to this murder charge. The first woman who accused him of rape was his niece, who was mentioned in the first episode of the series. Another woman made similar claims and felt so threatened by him that she didn’t file a written report. I always believe victims, and this case is no exception. Additionally, he abused his partners. Once, he was even arrested. Brendan Dassey, who was also convicted in this case, said his uncle sexually abused him and his brothers. The makers of the documentary knew this, yet didn’t include it in the series.
(TW: animal death) You may have heard of the Macdonald triad. Bed-wetting, cruelty to animals and an obsession with setting fires might indicate someone has violent tendencies. In the series’ first episode, we learn Avery set fire to a cat in a gruesome way: he covered it in gasoline and watched it suffer. That right there are two of the tree signs. It’s extremely possible his violent tendencies increased and escalated to murder. After all, the victim’s body was burned.
Having read those articles, it’s more possible that Steven Avery is responsible for Teresa Halbach’s death. There’s even more that I didn’t mention, so I’d recommend reading those!
I, however, do not believe his nephew Brendan Dassey was involved. There is no physical evidence linking him to the crime scene. The only thing investigators had, were his confessions. But, as the documentary pointed out numerous times, those were coerced.
I’m hoping part two will bring forth other suspects. Avery’s lawyers keep pointing the finger to different individuals: first her ex-boyfriend, then Bobby Dassey (Brendan’s brother). Both can be suspected: her ex knew her password, Bobby’s eye-witness statement is in all likelihood false.
Will we ever find out what truly happened? Perhaps it would be best if Avery is the killer. While it always baffles me when people maintain they’re innocent knowing full well they’re guilty, it’s heart-breaking to think someone could be wrongfully convicted not once, but twice!
*content and trigger warnings for animal cruelty, murder, rape, sexual assault, physical violence, mutilation of a corpse, ableism
I intentionally didn’t include any new information, as I definitely want to write a follow-up to this post once I’ve watched part two!
What do you think? What do you find most interesting about this case?
Stay Sexy and don’t get murdered,
Please buy me a coffee if you like my content. I am a Book Depository and Wordery affiliate. If you are interested in buying any books, please purchase from these links. you get free shipping and I get a small commission!
2 thoughts on “Chelsea’s Crime Corner: Making a Murderer (part 1)”
I haven’t finished MAM because I just couldn’t get into it .. I felt it was very biased? I love this post so much! Its kind of like your own version of buzzfeed unsolved, super cool idea.
I definitely think it’s interesting that all this information was skipped over in the series. The whole thing about the cat definitely put me off Avery from the start because I know it’s one of the signs that often indicates violent tendencies.
I don’t know if you’re taking requests for this but if you do another post like this on a Netflix show I’d love to see one about Evil Genius/The Collar Bomb Heist. That is one where I have no idea who is guilty
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Jamieson, this comment means so much to me!
I read somewhere that it was the documentary makers’ goal to show that evidence was tampered with, not that Avery is innocent. But by not including so much crucial pieces of evidence, a lot of viewers are convinced he didn’t do it
I know about the Collar Bomb Heist thanks to the Buzzfeed Unsolved and My Favourite Murder episodes and it’s definitely an interesting one! I love crimes where it’s not obvious who’s guilty, so yes, I might check out the Netflix series! Thanks for the suggestion ❤