A week before jury selection for the trial to prosecute the murder of Teresa Halbach, Dean Strang, representing the defendant Steven Avery, asked the judge to dismiss some of the charges against Avery. In his request, Strang responded to the prosecutor’s argument that dismissing certain charges would leave them “swimming upstream.”
“[T]he state is supposed to start every criminal case ‘swimming upstream’. And the strong current against which the state is supposed to be swimming is the presumption of innocence[…]
Where do we go to get our presumption of innocence back from a public who believes—and has heard time and again—that he’s an alleged rapist, even before murder.”
With these words, Dean Strang cuts to the heart of the issue presented in Netflix’s Making a Murderer: we will never know the reality of Avery’s role in the murder of Teresa Halbach. But our justice system is not, and is not designed to be, omniscient. The role of any trial is not to ascertain the truth of a matter. A trial is to negate the presumption of innocence of the defendant, not more.
Strang draws our attention to the trial to follow, a trial which is by all appearances being held to demonstrate that in Manitowoc County, and if you’re an Avery, you will be convicted if you can’t prove your innocence. Regardless of any suspicions of malfeasance, ignorance, or failures of the jury, the premise of the prosecution’s allegations prerequisite a presumption of guilt.
Looking at the available information with a presumption of innocence, it is possible to create a vastly different narrative implicating other suspects in Teresa Halbach’s murder.
Examining Statements & Testimony
To be clear, everything that follows is conjecture, and much of the theory comes from Avery’s own appeal, frun June 26, 2009. However, as that appeal clarifies, Avery’s defense was never able to argue these theories because of the decisions Judge Patrick Willis made in the preliminary hearing.
By every record available, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey had verifiable alibis for their whereabouts during the time Halbach was allegedly murdered. So did everyone else questioned by investigators, except Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey. Their alibis relied on each other, and were never proven credible, so should not be taken as such. This article will focus on the possibility of Scott Tadych’s guilt, as that seems to be the most likely, however this is as much speculation as any accusation must be.
Bobby Dassey is Brendan Dassey’s brother, and Barb Dassey’s son. Barb was, in 2003, in a relationship with Scott Tadych, and they were living together. At some point after the trial, they became married. But during the relative time period, Scott was Bobby’s mom’s boyfriend.
The Dassey/Tadych family lived on the same 40 acre property as Steven Avery, in a trailer less than 100 yards away from Avery’s own. It was Scott and Barb’s van that was being sold, by Steven, on Scott’s request.
On October 31, Steven Avery called AutoTrader to request “the photographer who had been out to the property previously,” Teresa Halbach. Avery left his sister’s name and number instead of his own, possibly in response to known statements from Halbach that due to harassment from Steven, she wouldn’t work with him again.
Looking at Teresa’s phone records shows that she was called multiple times in a row by an unknown number earlier in the day, but most importantly confirms AutoTrader speaking with her at 2:27, where she told her employer that she was on her way to the Avery property, presumably from around 10 minutes away, at another clients.
During the trial, Bobby Dassey, Scott’s soon-to-be stepson, testified that he saw Halbach arrive between 2:30 and 2:45, before taking a shower. Bobby then said he left the house between 2:45 and 3:00, to go bow-hunting. He claimed to see Halbach’s SUV, but not Teresa. Bobby’s claim of leaving to go hunting was verified by the testimony of Scott Tadych, who claimed he drove past Bobby while he was also out hunting. However, this testimony contradicted Scott’s statements at the time of the investigation, where he said he’d gone home instead of hunting.
Brendan Dassey’s schoolbus driver testified to seeing Halbach taking pictures of Scott’s van when she dropped Brendan and his brother Blaine off at 3:30. A truck driver, Jon Leurquin, testified that he saw Teresa Halbach’s SUV leaving the Avery property between approximately 3:30 and 4:00 while he was filling his vehicle at a nearby propane repository.
That night, supposedly after raping and murdering Teresa Halbach, scrubbing multiple locations clean of evidence, and burning Teresa’s body, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey had a bonfire to celebrate Halloween. Scott Tadych, who showed up late to the bonfire, testified that the flames were around 10 feet tall, in contradiction with his earlier claim that the flames at been much lower when first interviewed.
Three days later, on November 3, 2005, Teresa Halbach was reported missing. On November 5, Teresa Halbach’s car was found in the Avery scrapyard, and on November 8, cremains were found in Steven Avery’s firepit. Cremains were also found in a burn barrel belonging to the Dassey/Tadych household. On November 9, Steven Avery was arrested.
On November 29, Scott Tadych was interviewed by lead investigators Mark Wiegert and Andrew Fassbender, where he said he was trying to sell one of Bobby Dassey’s .22 rifles to a coworker. Teresa Halbach would later be shown to have been shot in the head.
On March 30, 2006, while Steven Avery and his stepson were in jail, charged with Teresa’s murder, Scott Tadych’s coworkers were interviewed (see page 47 of the 2010 appeal, continued here.) They described him as a “chronic liar who blows up at people, ‘screams a lot,’ and is a psycho.” To support the claim, Avery’s defense listed Tadych’s multiple arrests, several violent.
Evidence & Motive
Continuing the approach that Avery is presumed innocent, much of the evidence which works against him could just as easily be argued to work against Scott Tadych. Ignoring the suspicious evidence (Steven’s blood in the car, the single bullet found without blood, so on,) we’re left with Halbach’s vehicle on the Avery property, and her cremains being found in the neighboring quarry, in Steven Avery’s yard, and in Barb and Scott’s burn barrel.
Unfortunately, because of how the investigation was handled, there is very limited information about evidence which could support any alternate theory beside “Steven Avery did it,” and the refutation of the evidence pointing to Avery was done admirably, albeit unsuccessfully, by his defense.
However, the circumstances about the crime should be enough to tie Scott and Bobby to it as suspects. They had the means, and as much motive as Avery. While Avery was a suspect due to a sexual assault he never committed, Scott Tadych was actually a violent criminal, which could serve as motive.
When Scott was charged with battery, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage to property in 1997, Mark Rohrer was his defense attorney. During Steven Avery’s trial, this same Rohrer was the Manitowoc County District Attorney – the man who handed the case off to Calumet County to avoid “the appearance of a conflict of interest.” Not only that, but the presiding judge over that trial was Patrick Willis – the same man who would preside over Avery’s trial. The next year, Scott plead no contest to trespassing and disorderly conduct, again with the trial presided over by Judge Willis.
When Scott and his brother William were named as defendants in a personal injury suit, William’s lawyer was Jerome Fox. The same Jerome Fox who, as judge, would preside over the trial against Brendan Dassey, Scott’s stepson, for Teresa’s murder.
As demonstrated in The Third Branch, a publication for Wisconsin judges, Jerome Fox and Mark Rohrer worked for the same firm during at least the period where Scott was a client of Rohrer’s. This means Scott Tadych was a former client of the same firm that used to employ the judge presiding over his stepson’s trial.
Mark Rohrer, Patrick Willis, and Jerome Fox all had knowledge of Scott Tadych’s violent behavior, which itself is not odd, as Manitowoc County is not that populous. What is odd is that despite this knowledge, Scott Tadych was never once seen as a suspect.
Who Killed Teresa Halbach
Put plainly, we will never know who killed Teresa Halbach. The first hours of a murder are critical for identifying a suspect, and after years of time and miles of confusing paperwork, there is almost no chance of proving who did it beyond reasonable doubt.
Which brings back the heart of the issue: the presumption of innocence. While nothing argued above is proof of anyone’s guilt, it is enough to cast reasonable doubt on the allegations that Steven Avery is guilty.
Personally, I am curious as to why there were no bullets found with Miss Halbach’s remains in that burn pit. Typically, a .22 caliber rifle does not pass through its target and allegedly, she was shot 10-12 times, including head shots. They found rivets from her jeans but there were NO other bullets found in that pit! Virtually nothing that is presented as evidence in this case adds up. The jury actually found him NOT GUILTY on the mutilation of a corpse charge. Nothing makes sense and that’s because this case was not based on the truth.
Agreed! I cannot believe the monstrosity of this case!
Where are you getting this information from?
Some from the series, some from what I’ve read and the rest is based on observation.
i’ve read in various comments sections (not sure of original source) that the # of shots is based on how 11 shell casings were found in avery’s garage. which, for various obvious reasons, is completely stupid. if that’s true, nobody really knows for sure how many times she was shot. one in the head, probably 2, seems to be confirmed from the state of the bone fragments.
you could expand that theory and say the pit was cleaned of bullets.
I find with him I could rather easily come up with a motive theory. Say Steven didn’t like Scott. It seems rather obvious that Scott doesn’t like Steven given the statements made through the documentary and the general smugness he exhibited when he was convicted. Steven is about to go from a trailer living redneck to being a multi-millionaire due to the lawsuit. He starts getting lippy, saying that he’ll buy a house for him and another for his parents, but because he doesn’t like Scott they’re getting nothing. Scott wants to knock Steven down a few pegs and possibly get him out of the picture entirely.
Scott saying that he was selling his gun to someone in the Manitowoc County SD does create some tie to them, meaning he may know the undercurrent of loathing they have for Steven and possibly the fear they have of losing the case. Scott does seem a little brighter than the rest of the dim bulb Averys, so he figures he could frame up Steven pretty well as the police want to get back at him for being a simpleton who is now making them look bad.
While it may be thin, it sure as heck beats the prosecution’s Steven Avery motive of stupid guy doing something stupid.
Where are the educated ones in this county? All highly circumstantial evidence. In my opinion, there are other suspects that have not been thoroughly investigated and brought to trial. What about Steven’s 2 brother’s, Earl and Charles? Scott Tadych is high on my list. It appears that Scott is a total dirt bag. Does Steven’s sister, Barb Jada (currently, wife to Scott Tadych), know more than what she claims? Hmm, one may beg the question why they got married? Was it so she would not have to testify against her husband? Let’s not forget Teresa’s roommate, ex boyfriend, her brother and the police/justice system. Everyone of these people could have a motive. Teresa’s brother’s commentary was over the top while trying to convince the public that it was Steven. Steven’s and Brendan’s trials were a joke and looked like something from the “Dukes and Hazards” TV show. Makes me wonder where their moral compass lies? And by “THEIR” I mean, the police, investigators, prosecutors, judges, jurors and anyone who cannot see that this was nothing more than a Kangaroo Court! Shame on you all!!! To the People of Wisconsin, watch your back! Since you have allowed this to happen, you have now empowered the guilty ones. With power begets MORE power. What happened to Steve, can happen to you. You are allowing these people to get by with a huge injustice. And murder!
Every single time someone brings up the Tadych/Dassey theory on the group closed family fb page, it gets deleted. Its like nobody is allowed to discuss them. The group is meant to be for discussing everything and anything to help free Avery/Dassey. Perhaps Barb is scared something will be found out and she’ll lose another son but get Brendan back.
I think she does more than she is letting on , hence the reason she has aged so much, I always thought that Scott and Bobby had something to do with it, he is just to shady!!
just having your son locked up is all that is needed to age more. do you remember how angry she was at steven when she thought brendan’s confession was real. she’d be the same today if she got just an inkling of a real involvement. i reckon the same as if she got an inkling her husband did it.
I caught something that I have yet to hear anyone else discuss and I am curious as to anyone’s thoughts. Scott tadych claimed to go bowhunting approximately 2:30-3 pm in his testimony. Something nobody has caught was that when Brendan was testifying at his trial he stated that he saw his mom shortly after 5 p.m. but she was leaving to go visit the hospital with tadych.
I’ve never been hunting but I know people who have and if you do it’s typically something that lasts longer than just 2 or 3 hours. My point being why would tadych go hunting if he knew he was going to the hospital later in the evening? If he had succesfully shot a buck wouldn’t it take time to transport it back home and clean and gut it? What was Bobbys schedule like following his hunting?
My point being the hunting alibi holds no weight with regards to the amount of time an average hunter would take to actually do that.
I welcome your replies. [email protected]
Actually i read one of Tadych’s transcripts and his story actually changed a few times, he said he went hunting and was only gone for about an hour and half, then changed his story again and did not mention hunting at all, so in my opinion the only one who’s story stayed the same was Steven Avery’s
As far as I am concerned, the case you are making here not only justifies naming Tadych as an alternate suspect; I think that — if it weren’t for the overwhelming, yet overwhelmingly suspicious evidence (car key, blood in car, etc.), that Tadych could have easily been considered the prime suspect of everyone on that property!
Of course, there are those niggly little issues like Avery’s blood being found in Teresa’s car. 🙂
But the fix was in from the get-go, because Judge Willis simply was not going to entertain the notion that the cops planted evidence. He didn’t even reprimand Katz in Katz’s closing arguments, where he said, “Even if they *did* plant evidence …”. Come on!
Nevertheless, after Avery was convicted of murder, we found out that his jury was *not* composed of the 12 stupidest people in Manitowoc (which is what everyone must have thought when we all heard “Guilty of Murder” but “Not Guilty of Mutilation of a Corpse”).
Rather, we found out that Avery might very well have been acquitted (i.e. gotten a fair verdict) if those 7 hadn’t backed away from their original opinions. Kind of hard to stand your ground when one of the jurors is an active Volunteer for the Sheriff’s Department and his son is an active Deputy for the same Sheriff’s Department.
Maybe those original 7 who voted “Not Guilty” did indeed fear for their safety if they were to have acquitted him. But I think that they might have also had their own personal feelings that went something like the following: “He might be innocent, but then again, he might very well be guilty. What’s worse? Freeing a potentially savage murderer, just because we’re pretty sure that the Sheriff’s Department planted the evidence? Or sending a possibly innocent man up the river by delivering contradicting verdicts that make no sense, in the trust that an Appeals court will make 12 other poor guys decide his fate some time down the road?
I know one thing for sure: I would not have wanted to have been in the shoes of 11 of those jurors, knowing that that Sheriff’s Volunteer was on that jury. I would like to think that I would have stuck a vote of “Not Guilty”. But I wasn’t there. So, I simply cannot say.
the main problem with the scott theory is that he must’ve really fooled his girlfriend as they are married now.
And you think thats hard? lol Women stay with men who beat them nearly to death. In the West Memphis 3 case it was proven with DNA by the defendants own people (even though the police did nothing about it) that one of the victims own step father killed those boys. Meaning the mom trusted the man so much she married him and left her son home alone with him while at work.