If you’ve been hooked to Netflix’s Making a Murderer series, you’ve no doubt spent some time on the internet researching evidence not included in the series, more explanations for evidence that was contained within the series, and new developments in the case.
The internet is also full of theories surrounding the murder of Teresa Halbach, because no one really knows what happened on the night Halbach was murdered except for the person or persons who murdered her. Some of the theories are completely off the wall, while others make more sense. There’s the theory, for instance, that serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards may be behind the murder of Halbach, while some believe that Halbach’s brother, Mike, could’ve killed his sister. There’s even some who believe Halbach killed herself and the police used that opportunity to frame Steven Avery.
One theory that’s gained a lot of popularity began circulating on Reddit a few days ago. With 1,800 upvotes and comments at well over 1,000, the theory has clearly struck a nerve with viewers of the docu-series.
Why has it gained so much traction? Because if you don’t inspect it too closely, it makes some sense. Where it makes the most sense concerns the discovery of Halbach’s RAV4 in the Avery salvage yard, how the RAV4 key was planted in Avery’s house, and why Andrew Colburn called in Halbach’s license plate two days before the RAV4 is “officially discovered.”
The theory — which actually originated as a YouTube comment — suggests that Teresa’s brother, Mike, and her ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas, sneaked into the Avery salvage yard because they had suspicions that Steven Avery was involved in the murder of Teresa. There, they discovered Teresa’s RAV4, found the key, and Teresa’s blood in the cargo area. They freaked out, called the police, and Andrew Colburn fielded the call.
Sounds somewhat logical, so far. The theory continues:
Ryan and Mike show him the car and to be certain its Halbachs, he “calls” in the plate number to dispatch. Colborn has to “call” in… instead of “radio” in… the plate number to Manitowoc dispatch because he wasn’t in his police cruiser at the moment, but rather on foot and in the “field” on the Avery Salvage property. This mistake places Colborn at the scene and in contact with Halbachs RAV4… 2 days before it is officially located on Nov. 5, 2005, by Pam Sturm…. This is problematic for Colborn because all call and radio transmissions to dispatch are recorded and logged onto the Manitowoc Police server. Andrew Colborn is now operating outside of police protocol at a potential crime scene that he has no official directive to be at. He tells Mike Halbach and Ryan Hillegas to basically STFU about what they found and not mention to anyone that they were ever on the Avery Salvage property that night. Ryan or Mike turns the RAV4 key over to Andrew Colborn. Mike and Ryan are told to go home. Andrew Colborn then immediately calls Lt. James Lenk and briefs him about the discovery of the Halbach car and breaches of protocol he committed on the Avery property, also about Ryan Hillegas and Mike Halbach being there. Lt. James Lenk, realizing that Colborn’s calling in Halbachs plate is a serious mistake with potential consequences, orders Andrew Colborn to remove the license plate from Halbach’s car and then report to him immediately.
This part of the theory actually helps explain some inconsistencies, primarily why Andrew Colburn called in Halbach’s license plate two days before the discovery of the RAV4, and how the police managed to get Halbach’s key, which may have been planted much later in Avery’s house. I don’t even think the presence of Mike Halbach and Hillegas is necessary. Whether you believe Steven Avery is guilty, this theory could help to explain why some of the circumstances surrounding the police involvement sounded so suspicious.
Personally, I’d look at this theory and think that Avery committed the crime, the police botched the initial investigation, and did a poor job of covering their tracks.
That’s not where this theory goes, however. Here’s where, in the opinion of some, the theory goes off the rails:
What James Lenk and Andrew Colborn, or the others for that matter, don’t realize at this point and are completely unaware of is that Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych have kidnapped, raped, shot and then burned Theresa Halbach in the privacy of the gravel quarry off of Jambo Road on Halloween evening. They choose to burn her body to dispose of their DNA evidence of the crimes. They hid Halbach’s car in the rear of Avery Salvage and wiped it clean of their prints. I believe it is Scott Tadych’s idea to secretly transport the cremains of Halbach from the gravel quarry and dispose them into Steven Avery’s burn pit. Scott Tadych transports Halbach’s cremains in secret by using one of Barb Jandas burn barrels from her yard. Scott Tadych fails to collect all of Halbach’s cremains from the original burn site in the gravel quarry, thus leaving some behind that FBI investigators later find… but he also fails in making certain all of Halbach’s cremains are out of Barb Jandas’ burn barrel after dumping them into Steven Avery’s burn pit. This is why investigators found small bits of Halbach in Barb Jandas’ burn barrel. Thus making a total of three sites where Halbach’s cremains are found. Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey are unaware that Ryan Hillegas and Mike Halbach have found Theresas car on the property and that Lenk and Colborn are now involved and in play with their scheme. ………By shear colossal luck, two completely independent frame jobs targeting one man, Steven Avery were shaping up into the perfect storm. On one front, from Lenk and Colborn regarding the RAV4, ….and on the other unconnected front by Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey regarding the cremains of Theresa Halbach. One party wasn’t aware of the other’s involvements at any point during the days leading up to the official discovery of Halbach’s RAV4 at the Avery Salvage Yard hence why the investigation and murder trial made zero sense to anyone especially the Jury.
In other words, this theory posits that there were two independent Steven Avery frame-up jobs going on at the same time, one by the police and another by the “real” murderers, Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych. The theory does, however, line up with Steven Avery’s own theory about who the killers were.
In a 2009 post-conviction motion, Avery alleged that Bobby Dassey and Tadych were behind Halbach’s murder. Avery’s argument is not completely off-the-wall. Tadych did have a history of violence. He was twice on the Avery property on the day Halbach was murdered. It was the van of his soon-to-be wife (Avery’s sister) that was being photographed by Halbach, and Tadych’s only alibi was Bobby Dassey, who is now his stepson (likewise, Bobby Dassey’s only alibi was Tadych). Dassey and Tadych claimed they passed each other on the way to their respective hunting outings. Moreover, Bobby Dassey strangely showered before he went hunting, and he had fresh scratches on his back, which he attributed to a puppy.
Over on The Daily Beast, they’ve recounted Avery’s complete theory. There are certainly holes in it, but then again, there were holes in both the prosecution’s case and the defense’s case. The argument could be made that the theory makes just as much sense as the one Ken Kratz proffered.
It was not, however, convincing to the court who heard Avery’s post-conviction motion.