In case you've been living on another planet, Making a Murderer is a Netflix docu-series that debuted back in 2015. The series follows a man named Steven Avery who was falsely accused and convicted of sexual assault and the attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen. After 18 years behind bars, he was exonerated by DNA evidence and was released from jail in 2003. He later filed a $36 million civil lawsuit against Manitowoc County and several officials associated with his wrongful arrest and conviction, but before he could cash in and collect his millions of dollars, he and his 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, were arrested and charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach - a photographer who disappeared after she visited Avery's house to take pictures of a vehicle in his salvage yard.
Avery and Dassey were both convicted of the crime and are currently serving life sentences. The series alleges that the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department had it out for Avery for decades, and they framed him in the Halbach case. With season two of the show underway, people have become even more fascinated by Avery, Dassey, their lives, and their determination to prove their innocence.
If you form your opinion simply by what's shown on the Netflix series, you're likely to believe Avery and Dassey were indeed framed. There are new claims that point to a conspiracy and a cover-up by law enforcement, but there are also some key facts that were left out of the show that may lead you to believe the jury got things right by handing out those "guilty" verdicts. We'll show you new info from both sides of the case, as well as 15 facts that change everything you thought you knew about the show.
15 Steven Sexually Abused Brendan?
Lead prosecutor, Ken Kratz, has written a book entitled Avery: The Case Against Steven Avery and What Making A Murderer Got Wrong. In the book, Kratz explains the prosecution's argument in a point-by-point analysis. But one shocking fact that emerges is Brendan Dassey's allegations that he was sexually abused by his uncle, Steven Avery. Dassey made the allegations while talking on the phone to his mother. He allegedly told her Avery would sometimes grab him in a place that made him feel "uncomfortable."
Dassey later made the same allegations "several times" to law enforcement back in 2006, according to Kratz. Kratz says he included the sexual abuse allegation in his book so that the world could understand the "sick uncle/nephew" dynamic and their complicated family relationship. Dassey later denied any history of physical and sexual abuse.
14 Steven Was Accused of Sexually Assaulting His Niece
Netflix's Making a Murderer alleges Steven Avery was a kind guy who had some run-ins with the law, but he was just an innocent victim who got caught up in a police conspiracy. But according to prosecutor Ken Katz, Avery has a history of being involved in violent crimes.
Back in 2004, Avery was accused of sexually assaulting his 17-year-old niece in his sister Barb Janda Tadych's trailer. According to the police report, Avery threatened to kill the teenage relative and her family if she reported the crime. Tadych contacted the authorities, and the teen agreed to cooperate, but only after Avery had been arrested for Halbach's murder. After Avery was sentenced to life in prison for murder, the victim decided she didn't want to go through a painful trial, and the case was closed. Avery's former fiancée, Jodi Stachowski, claimed Avery confessed to having sex with his niece, but he justified his actions by saying she wasn't a "blood relative" since she had been adopted.
13 Steven Was Also Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Babysitter
Back in the 80s, when Steven Avery was married to his ex-wife Lori, he was accused of sexually assaulting his 19-year-old babysitter in his home. According to lead prosecutor Ken Kratz, Avery held "the victim’s hands over her head” as he assaulted her. Just like in the allegations brought upon by his niece, the babysitter also alleges Avery promised to kill her and her family if she ever reported the crime.
Many find it odd that these victims came forward only after Avery had been arrested for Teresa Halbach's murder, and many assumed it was just another "conspiracy" setup by Manitowoc County. But by the time Avery had been arrested in connection with Halbach's murder, he already had a large file of past allegations that point to him potentially being a very dangerous, violent and abusive man.
12 Steven's Brother Confirms Teresa's Car Was Planted
During his very first television interview, Steven Avery's younger brother, Earl, listed his concerns about the trial and the evidence that was presented by the prosecution. He also spoke about the very important key evidence: Teresa Halbach's vehicle which was found in Avery's salvage yard after the murder.
Earl told Access Hollywood they drove right through the area the night of October 31, the same night Halbach went missing, and her Toyota RAV4 was not there. Days later, Halbach's second cousin, a woman named Pamela Sturm, joined the search efforts to locate her. She searched Avery's salvage yard and discovered Halbach's vehicle on November 5th, covered in branches with the license plates removed. If Earl claims the vehicle wasn't in the salvage yard on the day Halbach went missing, but it magically appeared and was located by Strum just five days later, is this confirmation that the vehicle was planted on the lot to frame Avery?
11 Steven & Brendan To Be Released In 2017?
Just before Christmas 2016, Steven Avery sent a holiday card to all of his supporters, and his message was definitely shocking. Avery thanked all of his supporters for believing in him, and he claimed that "science" will save him and Brendan Dassey in 2017. By "science," Avery was referring to new advancements in DNA testing that could potentially prove that he and Dassey had nothing to do with Teresa Halbach's death. Avery's new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, claims there are new findings in the case, including a different suspect. She has worked to exonerate 17 people of wrongful convictions, and she hopes to do the same with Avery. She says, "There is evidence that already exists in the case that points to a different location and a different suspect. We've got a combination of forensic evidence and a tip from somebody that we've interviewed multiple times that we think is credible."
10 New Testing Is Underway
Remember the vial of blood that appeared to be tampered with? In November 2016, judge Angela Sutkiewicz - the judge appointed to oversee Avery's appeal - ordered new tests be performed on the same vial of blood which played a crucial role in convicting Avery.
The blood vial was collected from Avery back in 1985 (when he was wrongfully convicted of r*pe and attempted murder). When the vial was shown on Making a Murderer, its container appeared to have been tampered with, and it also appeared as if a syringe had punctured the top of the vial. Avery's lawyer insisted a sample of his blood was stolen from the vial and planted in Teresa Halbach's vehicle to frame Avery. Another piece of evidence that will be retested is the spare key for Halbach's Toyota RAV4 that was found in Avery's trailer on November 8. The key was discovered after Avery's trailer had been searched multiple times.
Also, a swab from the hood latch of Teresa's car is set to be re-examined. Avery and his lawyer hope these new test will finally exonerate him.
9 His Ex-fiancée Is In Fear of Her Life
Lynn Hartman watched Making a Murderer like the rest of us, and she decided to lend her support to Avery by writing him a letter. The two soon began a relationship, and just eight months later, they were engaged to be married. But many people in Avery's life thought Hartman was just looking to profit off of the show and Avery's fame. Hartman was given $5,000 to appear on the Dr. Phil show to talk about their relationship. Dr. Phil advised Hartman to "be healthy and alone than be sick with someone else," and that's when Hartman decided to write Avery a letter to end their relationship.
She now says Avery showed "signs that concerned her" during their relationship. He didn't take the news of their breakup well, and Hartman now says she fears for her life. Avery allegedly told Hartman there was "no way out" of the relationship, and he would hurt her and her kids if she didn't help him and do what he wanted her to do.
Hartman contacted officials at Waupun Correctional Institution where Avery is housed, and they issued a no-contact order, barring Avery from interacting with her. Does this confirm that Avery is indeed a dangerous man who has the ability to hurt anyone, even someone he once loved?
8 Brendan May Have Voluntarily Confessed
Brendan Dassey left many viewers confused when he confessed to being involved in Teresa Halbach's death - only to flip flop and completely deny the allegations. With an IQ of 70, which puts him at a fourth-grade reading level, his defense argued he was coerced into confessing after receiving pressure from law enforcement. A judge overturned Dassey's conviction in 2016, but a new claim kept Dassey behind bars.
An appeals court overturned the judge's ruling under new claims that Dassey's confession was voluntary, and investigators didn't make him any promises that he would be set free if he came clean and confessed about being involved the crime. Many of Dassey's supporters are afraid that his voluntary confession will keep him locked up behind bars until he's eligible for parole in 2048.
7 Steven Begged Prosecutor Ken Kratz to Represent Him
Eight years after being convicted and sentenced to life in prison, Steven Avery was working on his appeal, and he was allegedly trying to assemble an all-star defense team - and he wanted lead prosecutor Ken Kratz to be on his side. A sexting scandal caused Kratz to lose his job with the state, so Avery wrote him a letter and begged him to join his team. In the letter, Avery tried to pin the murder of Teresa Halbach on another member of his family, his sister-in-law Candy. Avery allegedly wrote, “You don’t work for the State no more so why don’t you take my appeal? See we can all get money together.”
Kratz claims Avery wanted him to join his team so they could profit off the appeal together. Avery allegedly wrote Kratz six times, trying to convince him to become his counsel, but Kratz declined.
6 Prosecutor Ken Kratz Begged Steven to Confess
During their time corresponding back and forth after Steven Avery was convicted of murder, lead prosecutor Ken Kratz's hands weren't completely clean in the entire situation. A letter resurfaced that was sent to Avery in September 2015 - just months before Making a Murderer aired. In the letter, Kratz asks Avery to confess to the murder so he can write a tell-all book and profit off of it.
In short, the letter reads, "By the way, the difference between you and famous convicted murderers from the past is that they told their whole truthful story to someone, who then wrote a book about what actually happened and people got to understand both sides. I was willing to do that for you… but if you are going to continue to lie about what happened between you and Ms. Halbach, I am not interested."
This definitely doesn't look good for Kratz, although he no longer works for the state. It just confirms what most people believe: Avery's trial was full of misconduct.
5 Steven Had A 'Creepy' History With Teresa
When Teresa Halbach ventured off to Steven Avery's property to take photos of his vehicles, it wasn't the first time she had come in contact with him. They had quite a history together, which is equal parts weird and creepy. Halbach had met with Avery six times, and during a previous visit, she told her boss that Avery greeted her wearing only a towel. She said she was "creeped out" and didn't want to work him again.
On the day she went missing, Avery called her by dialing *67 to block his number and keep it hidden because he knew Halbach was wary of him. He specifically requested Halbach come to his property, but he used his sister's name when he made the appointment. This leads people to believe that Avery lured Halbach to his home on that fateful day, and if she had known Avery was the one requesting her presence, she never would have showed up.
4 Police Found Handcuffs and Leg Irons, Just Like Brendan Described
While under police investigation, Brendan Dassey sketched this photograph which depicts Teresa Halbach being tied and chained to a bed. Steven Avery later admitted he owned handcuffs and leg irons, just as Dassey described in his confession. But Avery insists the items weren't used in a murder. Instead, he claimed they were for use for his then-girlfriend, Jodi Stachowski.
Police were made aware that Halbach had been tied up when Dassey described the events of that night and drew the picture above. Although the leg irons and handcuffs were a match to what Dassey had described to the police as being used to tie up Halbach during the crime, Halbach's DNA wasn't found on any of those items found in Avery's home.
3 The Bullet Was Linked to Avery's Rifle
Another key piece of evidence that was left out of the Netflix series was a bullet that was found and linked to Steven Avery's rifle. The gun, which was found in Avery's bedroom, was matched with a bullet that had Teresa Halbach's DNA on it. The bullet was found under an air compressor in Avery's garage, and a gun expert claims there's no possible way the bullet could have been fired from any other gun, and all 11 cartridge casings found in Avery's garage were fired from that same .22 caliber rifle.
Many people believe the bullet was planted, but investigators were apparently unaware that Halbach had been shot until Brendan Dassey's confession. Dassey claimed Halbach had been shot with a gun Avery would hang above his bed. Many people consider this to be the smoking gun in the entire case and more than enough proof that Avery and Dassey are guilty of the crime.
2 His Ex-Fiancée Jodi Even Thinks He Did It
At the beginning of the series, Steven Avery's then-girlfriend, Jodi Stachowksi, was a part of his support system. But she believed the police were after her because of her association with Avery, so they ended their relationship. Stachowksi has since spoken out about Avery, calling him a "monster" and claiming "he is not innocent."
Stachowksi alleges Avery was violent and abusive during their relationship. She said things got so bad, she "ate two boxes of rat poison just so I could go the hospital and get away from him." Stachowksi says Avery strangled her and threatened to kill her, as well.
It's Stachowksi and Avery's tumultuous relationship that may have been the reason behind Teresa Halbach's murder. During an interrogation by police, Brendan Dassey stated he and Avery had planned on killing Halbach for "a few days before it happened." He also said Avery's motive was because "he was pissed off that Jodi was in jail again."
1 Steven Avery Confessed to a Fellow Inmate?
A fellow prisoner says the Making a Murderer star confessed to killing Teresa Halbach behind bars.
Joseph Evans, who's serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, wrote a nine-page letter to the Rockford Advocate and spilled all the details that Avery had given him about the sexual assault and murder of Halbach.
According to Evans, Avery “put the knife to Teresa’s throat" as he guided her to his bedroom. Steven said Teresa was "crying and begging him not to kill her.” Evans also claims Avery believed he would've "gotten away" with the crime if his "idiot nephew," Brendan Dassey, had not spoken to police "like he told him not to."
Avery and Evans began a friendship while serving their sentences at a Wisconsin prison in Boscobel. Prison records show they were both housed in the prison back in 2010, and that's where Evans alleges the confession took place.
Sources: radaronline, mirror, nydailynews