I’m not going to lie, I love a good conspiracy theory. I feel this is what makes us different, the ability to think and look at something arbitrarily and to not always take it at face value, or our own “Checks and balances” if you will. The government conspiracy theories always seem to intrigue me more, probably due to the fact that I’m always paying them money, to make money, so to see the idea of them slipping up is like a mini “Win one for the home team” feeling. During the duration of this documentary I was constantly going back and forth between guilty, innocent, guilty innocent, to the point where I had to binge watch all episodes in one day. I’ll admit probably not the most proactive way to spend 10 hours, but albeit I was hooked! I felt myself at times connecting with Stephen Avery and his family at what he has gone through and why he’s going through it again, I can’t imagine my family going through that even once, but they went through it twice. I’d also feel bad for Teresa Halbach’s family and the fact that their daughter/friend/sibling had passed or at least was missing. I was constantly torn and conflicted so a big shout out to the makers of the documentary, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, they may be scrutinized for presenting a one-sided case, but either way it definitely tugged at my heart strings on both sides. With that being said I’d like to look at my two scenarios that I feel may have happened, at least from the theorist aspect, that shows Stephen Avery as an innocent man.
When I first watched it, I would pause episodes to gather my thoughts and form opinions about the information they just released in the episode. A major turning point for me was with Sgt. Andrew Colburn testimony, as well as the audio recording of him with the dispatcher, about finding a “Toyota” that was abandoned. This deemed the crucial point in the timeline of events that show Sgt. Colburn had found Teresa Halbach’s Rav-4 and at this point this is where the two “Theories” I have will differ. In this scenario I believe that Sgt. Colburn found the Rav-4 with Teresa Halbach’s body in the back, she was already dead. Sgt. Colburn saw this as an opportunity and made a call to his “partner in crime” if you will, Lt. James Lenk. They were careful in removing the body not to get any of their own DNA in the trunk, but didn’t get all of Halbach’s blood out of the back. They then burned the body at the Quarry located on the map and in the days to come would then sprinkle the bones throughout the Avery property in the burn pit as well as behind the Dassey residence, in the fire barrels; giving us 3 locations of Teresa Halbach’s bones. This proves to me that the prosecution’s theory about how Stephen Avery tortured her in his house, then put her in the back of her own SUV, then drove about 5 feet to the burn pit and decided to burn her body, makes entirely no sense at all. In this theory I believe that neither Sgt. Colburn or Lt. James Lenk killed Teresa Halbach, however they did find the body in the back of her own SUV and saw and opportunity to frame Stephen Avery; and during the process of them seizing the Avery property for 8 days(which is absurd in it’s own right) they planted the evidence needed seal the deal and put Avery away for life.
This theory is more believable now to me after re-watching the documentary. I’ll jump in on the same testimony as before with Sgt. Colburn and how he obviously found the Rav-4, but has a different turn of events unfolding this time in this theory. I believe that Sgt. Colburn found the Rav-4, but Teresa Halbach’s body was not in the back of the SUV, at this time Sgt. Colburn proceeded to call Lt. James Lenk and they seized the opportunity to frame Mr. Avery by planting the SUV on his property and Salvage yard. The next day they tipped off the search party to look in a certain direction, knowing that they would locate the SUV, and Ryan Hillegas (Teresa Halbach’s Ex) was smart to not find the SUV himself as the proclaimed “Leader/Organizer” of the search party; so that he couldn’t be linked to the whereabouts even though he already knew where it was. I believe that Ryan Hillegas knew more than he let on, he seemed awfully unsettling during his testimony and I got a vibe that something was “off”. I also found it peculiar that they filmed Ryan Hillegas giving this speech at the search party like they wanted to document it for some reason that HE, was doing everything he could to find Teresa Halbach, thus painting him in a good light again and would later be used to, I’m assuming dismiss him as a suspect. This theory also contains an important part, that I think even the documentary didn’t cover much on, and that is the testimonies of both Bobby Dassey (Brendan’s brother) and Scott Tadych who is Bobby and Brendan’s Stepfather. These two gentleman had the most awkward vibes and seemed so stiff in the documentary, like they knew something was up, they were also each other’s own alibi’s, which is fine, but the way they acted in court, honestly seemed like an act altogether. In this scenario I believe that either both Bobby and Scott killed Teresa, or one of them did and the other helped them dispose of the body by driving it to the quarry and burning it, while abandoning the SUV that would be later found by Sgt. Colburn. At this point both Sgt. Colburn and Lt. James Lenk would then make sure that it looks like Stephen Avery is guilty by planting the infamous key, and later the bullet fragments in his garage.
In the end it’s hard to keep remembering that Teresa Halbach died and her family went through a loss, whether there involvement was direct or not. It’s easy to lose sight of that as the documentary was made about a supposed innocent man in jail, again which is the key selling point to the whole thing. It definitely paints a picture negatively on the Manitowoc Police department, as well as the Prosecutor Ken Kratz. It’s odd, the entire time watching this I knew I didn’t like that Kratz guy, I didn’t know if it was his voice or that stereotypical “professional” mustache, but for some reason he seemed like this guy that I wanted to clothesline for no legitimate reason; than after getting to the last episode it all came together and made sense. I feel we’ll never discover what really happened to Teresa Halbach, unless the parties that are involved one day confess on their deathbeds, or their guilty conscience weighs on them too much. I just wish that we could know the truth whether he’s innocent or guilty for both the Avery’s and the Halbach’s sake, to finally put their souls at ease. Thank you for reading(if you made it this far), I don’t normally make them this lengthy, but this documentary is something special that I feel will be discussed for years to come.