ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

*Potential spoilers ahead for anyone who isn't caught up on the Netflix original series, 'Making a Murderer'.*

Since Making a Murderer was released on Netflix last month, a fascination with the Steven Avery case has taken the world by storm. After binge watching the entire documentary series, audiences are still left questioning Avery's verdict.

With over 128,000 people signing a petition to the White House to pardon Avery, it's safe to say that a large portion of viewers believe the case made by Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. But agreeing with Steven Avery's innocence then begs the question: Who killed Teresa Halbach?

Back in 2007, Avery sought third-party liability, given the number of people and family members on the property when Halbach was likely on the premises. In 2009, a substantial list of potential suspects was released, all of who had reason to but because "third-party defense” was deemed inadmissible, Avery's defense team was unable to use the names in court.

According to DailyBeast, after the precedent set by State v. Denny, there are three qualifications to consider when deciding whether or not the third-party defenses should be admissible in court:

Third-party defense evidence may be admissible under the legitimate tendency test if the defendant can show that the third party had (1) the motive and (2) the opportunity to commit the charged crime, and (3) can provide some evidence to directly connect the third person to the crime charged which is not remote in time, place or circumstance.

Thanks to the public availability of the court documents, we're able to see who his team thinks to be Teresa Halbach's real killer and why they view them as more likely suspects than Steven Avery.

1. Bobby Dassey

The motive: If his brother Brendan or now-stepfather Scott Tadych were involved in the murder of Teresa Halbach, Bobby would have reason to pin the crimes on an easy target, like his uncle Steven. In addition to protecting his immediate family, Bobby had been open regarding his dislike of his uncle. In court he testified that, from his own past experience, Steven would like to "stab ya in the back."

The evidence: Because he knew Teresa Halbach was coming to photograph his mothers car and his residence on the Avery family property, it stands to reason that Bobby Dassey had the motive and opportunity to kill her. He testified that after seeing Halbach on the property he went hunting and was unable to provide an alibi for her time of death. The alibi he was able to provide later on in the day, however, it is mutual one with Scott Tadych, in which both men saw each other driving. Upon questioning, Dassey was unable to provide the time of their run-in.

During his physical examinations by investigators, scratches were found on Bobby Dassey's back that the physician noted as recent and "unlikely they were over a week old."

2. Scott Tadych

The motive: When Teresa Halbach was killed, Tadych was dating Steven's sister and the mother of Bobby, Blaine, Brendan and Bryan Dassey, Barb Janda. Had Bobby, Brendan, or any of the Dassey brothers killed Halbach, he would have reason to frame an easier target like Steven.

The evidence: According to these documents, Tadych has had a history of committing violent crimes against women. Being Janda's then-boyfriend, Tadych would have spent plenty of time on the Avery lot and he likely would have known that Halbach was coming through that day to photograph Barb's van. Considering the close proximity between the Janda house and Steve Avery's trailer, they would have had equal visibility of the entrances and any cars coming onto the property. Furthermore, Tadych's only alibi of when Halbach was reported to be on the property relies on the eye witness account of Bobby Dassey saying that they passed each other in their cars.

After Halbach was reported missing, many of Tadych's coworkers testified against him, saying that he had approached him in an attempt to sell them a .22 caliber rifle (the proposed murder weapon). The other testified that on the day of Steven Avery's arrest, Tadych had left work a "nervous wreck." After a coworker had spotted blood on one of the Dassey boys' shirts he stated that their clothes had "gotten mixed up with his laundry."

3. Charles Avery

The motive: The defense claims that Charles's motive lies mainly in jealousy over the money Steven would earn as compensation for his wrongful imprisonment, Steven's stake in the family business, and his relationship with Jodi Stachowski.

The evidence: Much like other alternative perpetrators proposed by the defense, Charles Avery has a history of violence, sexual assault, and domestic abuse. In 1999, he was charged with forcing his then-wife Donna to have sexual intercourse against her will and strangled her with a phone cord while saying "if she did not shut up he would end it all." It wasn't just his wife who suffered from the brunt of his violence, but also patrons of the Avery Salvage business. Both Zina Lavora and Judith Knutsen, who had dealt the company, were harassed by Charles Avery and his romantic advances in the weeks following their interactions.

Having access to the entire scrap yard, the knowledge Halbach was going to be at the site, and, later on, a deep understanding of the findings and charges against Steven, he also had the means to frame his brother.

4. Earl Avery

The motive: Like his brother Charles, if Steven were to be put away for these crimes, his stake in the Avery family business would go from one third to half. Incriminating Steven would be simple enough given his past run-ins with the law, meaning that he and Charles could go on running and profiting from the Avery Salvage yard.

The evidence: This should be a shock to no one at this point, Steven's other brother Earl also had a long history of violence against women, including sexually assaulting his two daughters.

Similar to Charles, Earl knew every inch of their scrapyard and also testified to knowing when Halbach was coming to photograph their sister's van. Furthermore, when investigators came back to the Avery property to collect DNA samples, Earl Avery hid upstairs under a pile of clothes.

Suspicious police involvement aside, the apparent lack of evidence for the prosecution and a number of alternative perpetrators, I'm still struggling to completely come to a conclusion. Whether or not you believe Steven Avery was framed, it's pretty clear that something fishy is going on with this trial.

(Source: Daily Beast, Avery Documents)


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