In December of 2015, Netflix quietly released Making a Murderer — a documentary series about the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach and subsequent conviction of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, for the crime. For all its claims of impartiality, the series’ bias was clear from its name: Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos believed that law enforcement officials homed in on Avery and Dassey early and never seriously considered anyone else for the crime. The show struck a nerve with audiences around the world.
True crime is hardly a new genre, and murder cases have long captured the public’s imagination. But through the force of the internet, many now feel as though they no longer have to accept the official story told to them by courts, the press, or documentaries. Following Making a Murderer’s massive success, some viewers have taken to the internet attempting to verify the information in the documentary. And when information isn’t available, these independent (and mostly amateur) investigators have sought it out for themselves. Campaigns have been started using Freedom of Information requests to gain access to court documents, and several thousand dollars have been raised to pay for the court administration fees associated with releasing over 15,000 pages from the trial.
We’ve been following the Making a Murderer story since the show debuted back in December. After seeing several compelling arguments and potential pieces of evidence emerge from the discussion boards of Reddit, we decided to get in touch with some of the people who had made the jump from fans to criminal investigation hobbyists, devoting massive chunks of their lives to investigating the death of Teresa Halbach.