Ever since Making a Murderer arrived on Netflix in late 2015, Reddit theorists and internet threads have been dedicated to picking apart the evidence.
We all want to know updates from Steven Avery’s case. But here are some of the biggest unanswered questions from the original trial and the first ten episodes of the award-winning documentary series…
1. What actually happened with Halbach’s car keys?
This became one of the most infuriating pieces of evidence presented during Steven Avery’s trial; the fact that car keys were found in his bedroom.
During Avery’s preliminary hearing, Debuty Daniel Kucharski, of the Calumet County Sheriff department, described the circumstances in which the discovery was made.
“At one point we found a key that appeared to be from a Toyota vehicle [the same make as Teresa Halbach’s],” he said.
“It was on the floor when we found it, next to a cabinet that Lieutenant Lenk and Sergeant Colborn had been searching.”
Suspicion started to arise from the fact that nobody had seen the keys, which lay quite openly on the floor, until November 8. Kucharski revealed that the slippers (seen next to the key) had been moved before the key was seen. “The key was not there the first time they [the slippers] were moved,” he asserted.
The Calumet County Sheriff confirmed that it was Lieutenant Lenk that saw the key first, pointing it out to the others on the scene, which only fuelled the theory that the Manitowac department may have planted the evidence – something Avery’s defence lawyers later argued in court.
For many, there is still a question mark over how Halbach’s keys got there. Following the widespread success of the documentary, internet theories soon started to spread after eagle-eyed fans spotted a difference in the keychain pictured in a photograph of Teresa holding her keys, and the ones found in Avery’s trailer.
2. Is Brendan Dassey still in prison?
Making a Murderer Part 1 ended with both Avery and Dassey behind bars.
Brendan, who was 16 at the time of his initial arrest, was convicted of first-degree murder, mutilation of a corpse and sexual assault after confessing to his involvement in the crimes against Teresa Halbach.
However, it was the footage of Dassey’s police interview that prompted one of the biggest outcries from viewers of the Netflix documentary. He was questioned by officers without a lawyer or an appropriate adult, but when his mum did enter the room after a three-hour session he told her (while they were alone) that “they got to my head”.
It’s been widely asserted that Brendan’s incriminating comments were off the back of being fed information.
In developments that have been going on since initial filming ended, and with new legal representation, Dassey’s appeals made it to the federal court.
In 2016, his conviction was overturned by Judge William E Duffin, who ordered that Dassey be “released from custody unless, within 90 days of the date of this decision, the State initiates proceedings to retry him”.
Unfortunately for Dassey, the State appealed the judgment and a higher court ultimately decided his conviction was, in fact, sound. An appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected and he remains behind bars even now. So we’ll be hoping for some sort of update on how likely it is that he’ll ever be exonerated.
3. Was the blood planted?
During the trial, the jury heard that Avery’s blood was found in Teresa’s car.
In series one we saw Avery’s defence team, Jerry Buting and Dean Strang, making the discovery that Avery’s blood sample – taken from his original incarceration in 1985 – had a broken seal. They believed that this supported their theory that he had been framed.
The State attempted to get the blood vial evidence excluded, but the judge denied their motion.
The allegedly “tampered with” test tube, containing Avery’s blood, has been a big bone of contention.
Following the success of the documentary series, there’s been new information to suggest that a prison nurse had been willing to testify that it was she who “put the hole” in the vial, offering a seemingly innocent explanation.
There has also been some discussion, amongst experts, around whether or not blood vials are actually supposed to have holes pierced in their rubber stoppers.
4. What happened to Teresa Halbach’s voicemails?
During the trial, Teresa’s brother Mike stated that their mother had discovered Teresa’s voicemail inbox was full.
“If at some point people were calling and finding her mailbox was full, then some of the messages that were on that mailbox are gone. They were erased,” Buting said during episode five, after enlisting an expert to comment on the phone activity.
“Why would you erase the messages of a woman who is missing and later then found to have been killed? When those messages might have clues to her whereabouts, to where she went? Where she was going, perhaps…”
All good points that remain unanswered.
Halbach’s brother denied erasing them, so if he didn’t delete them then who did?
Teresa’s ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas also testified that he had been able to guess her username and password, gaining access to her phone.
Buting argued, during the original trial, that Avery did not have the password to Teresa’s phone inbox and so someone else close to her must have been responsible for this activity.
5. What about the bones found in the quarry?
During Avery’s trial, the State argued that the burn pit behind Steven’s garage was the primary location for the burning of Teresa’s body.
Forensic anthropologist Dr Leslie Eisenberg was called to the stand to testify, and she confirmed this theory. But, having examined the remains, she also conceded that some bone fragments were found in two other locations; in a burn barrel, and in a quarry that was off of Avery’s land.
Eisenberg suspected that the human bone found in the quarry was part of a pelvic bone, consistent with the charring of the bone fragments found in the other two locations.
Defence attorney Dean Strang raised the possibility that the bones may have been moved, and Eisenberg agreed with this.
While she also concluded that she thought it “highly unlikely” that the burn pit behind Avery’s property was not the primary burn location, she could not “reasonably rule out” another location either.
So the question remains: how, and why, were the bones found in different locations? And what does this mean for the case against Avery?
6. What about all of the evidence that was ‘left out’ of the documentary?
After the original ten episodes dropped on Netflix, a few key players – namely lead prosecutor Ken Kratz – accused the documentary of being biased, alleging that some of the evidence had been left out to favour public opinion of Avery.
In response to the allegations, one of the directors of the series, Moira Demos, told The Wrap that they had to limit what was included within the film as getting a six-week trial down to just 10 hour-long episodes became quite a task. “We tried to choose what we thought was Kratz’s strongest evidence pointing toward Steven’s guilt,” she said. “The things he talked about at his press conferences, the things that were really damning toward Steven.”
Amongst the extra evidence were allegations that Avery first met Halbach “in a towel” – something that, Kratz told People, had “creeped” her out. “She [went to her employer and] said she would not go back because she was scared of him,” he said.
There were also reports that Avery had used a private number to contact Halbach – if this is true, why?
It will be interesting to see if any of this is addressed in Part Two.
7. Is there such a thing as sweat DNA?
As well as the blood splatters found in the car, the State presented evidence that Avery’s “sweat” DNA was found under the hood. This did not make it into the final edit of the documentary, but was picked up by media outlets after the film had piqued interest across the world.
In an interview with Maxim, Kratz made the revelation in order to poke a large hole in the defence’s theory that officers had access to Avery’s blood and therefore could have planted it.
He asked: “Do the cops also have a vial of his sweat that they are carrying around? The evidence conclusively shows that Steven Avery’s hand was under the hood when he insists he never touched her car.”
Internet forums have debated the existence of “sweat DNA”, and how and when it was discovered in the car, ever since.
So here’s hoping that we can get some answers in chapter two.
8. Who killed Teresa Halbach?
It’s important to remember that, underneath it all, there’s a victim and her family.
Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have both been found guilty of this crime and are currently serving time in prison. However, they both protest their innocence and are continuing to file appeals.
After the success of Making a Murderer Part One, internet forums and armchair detectives have been trying to discover who else might be responsible, particularly as no other avenues seemed to have been investigated by police at the time.
Kathleen Zellner, Avery’s new lawyer, has said that she may have uncovered other suspects, and really it is down to the legal system to find out if there is an alternative theory to the one presented to the jury at trial.
And these are just some of the reasons we’ll be tuning in for more…
Making a Murderer Part 2 returns to Netflix on October 19.
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