If you’ve watched all ten episodes of the Netflix documentary series Making A Murderer, you’re most likely left with more questions than answers. For starters: What really happened? The filmmakers present the story of Steven Avery, a man falsely accused of sexual assault and attempted murder, who was convicted and imprisoned, then exonerated, only to be charged decades later with murdering a photographer named Teresa Halbach. It’s a complicated, harrowing, frustrating narrative, and it’s sparked a lot of speculation.
Warning: If you haven’t watched the series, this post isn’t for you; it requires some knowledge of the show, and spoilers abound.
Over on Reddit, there are pages and pages of threads where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people who have viewed the documentary are hashing out the details of the case. You’ll find information about the excused juror; a link to a video interview with defense attorney Dean Strang; very pertinent details about the RAV-4 key; the name of the hot silver-haired male reporter (and the name of the cool, skeptical, bespectacled female reporter); and much, much more. Including plenty of theories about who might have killed Halbach, and why. Theories you won’t see on Netflix. These are the five most intriguing:
Theory 1: Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych did it
During the trial, Steven Avery’s lawyers maintained that Avery was not responsible for the murder of Teresa Halbach, but they were “hampered” by the judge and not allowed to suggest who else might have committed the crime. In a TV interview that aired on Sunday, December 27, 2015, defense attorney Dean Strang says, “There were a number of other people who were possible suspects.” As MurphyMcManus69 points out, Bobby Dassey (Brendan’s brother) and his stepfather, Scott Taydch, were supposedly on the Avery property at the same time as Teresa Halbach. According to court documents, Bobby Dassey had scratches on his back when he was questioned and physically examined by law enforcement officials. He and Scott Tadych both testified that they had driven past each other, each on their way to go hunting, on October 31, the last day Halbach was seen alive. Bobby and Scott and basically served as each other’s alibis for the murder. Redditor Betterwithcheddar believes that Bobby and Scott “are guilty and they couldn’t be happier about getting away with it.” Why? “They were tired of Steve’s impact on their family, the attention, they wanted him gone again.” Another Redditor argues that Scott Taydch had a history of violence. More here and here.
Theory 2: “The German Man” did it
A post written by a blogger named Brian McCorkle—linked to by Redditor wildantics85—states that around the same time Halbach disappeared, a woman in another town was allegedly in a situation where her husband was exhibiting bizarre behavior. For privacy’s sake, the man is not named, but allegedly, his last name is German. And:
The week of October 31st 2015, the citizen’s husband at the time […] was acting strangely, cutting the tags from her clothing and cutting her clothing apart. Their relationship became strained so she rented a place in Maribel, WI to separate. The property is about 5 miles from Avery Auto Salvage, and is located along the route Teresa would have taken…
There are tons of creepy details in this story: Allegedly, the husband had some kind of fascination with fire; he was known to have burned clothing and to have set himself on fire in the past; the wife “found a pair of yellow lace panties that were not hers”; dogs found bones on their property; and the wife “discovered a can of lighter fluid with a bloody fingerprint.” Allegedly! More here, here and here.
Theory 3: The cops and the county set up Avery because the Avery property has some value to the county
In the documentary, Avery’s (crush-worthy) defense team suggests that the Manitowoc County police department framed Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach. But Redditor BathRobeJesus imagines that the conspiracy could have been even bigger, with more higher-ups involved, writing:
Doug Hagg is the DA’s mentor.
Doug Hagg is also currently the head of the real estate transfers and registry in that part of the state.
There are clear portions of the Avery Property, from current satalite[sic] view, imply that this property is important to the “mining” that’s being done at the “gravel pit.” My contention is that the “gravel pit,” is the single largest understatement of the documentary.
The “gravel pit,” is the size of Mishicot (and more), bigger than Rockwood, and Denmark, WI.
I believe that Doug Hagg and his financiers have some info into what exactly made that property so valuable.
Keep in mind that Doug is/was a member of the Wisconsin game authority. Could he have had access to people that were in the know enough to be aware of various studies done on the property? Game warden status in my state/county/municipality allows one their own investigation and prosecute separately from state and local authority. It goes US Marshals/Federal organizations/Game Warden/State Police/Local Police.
Was Hagg in business with the police chief? The DA – he was “his mentor” after all?
BathRobeJesus goes on to ask: “In my experience local, state and federal LEO in small municipalities operate on the same level for HUGE land deals such as this. [Maybe there’s] oil, minerals, [natural gas], water, etc easily accessible on this property?” User Condorman80 agrees: “There’s something about that 40 acres of land that the county wants. Maybe I’ve watched too much True Detective but I kept going back to ‘why were they so eager to put Steven away the first time (not to mention double down the second time)?’ I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘we really don’t like this guy.’ I mean, is there some hidden treasure buried there?” In addition, Steven Avery had filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Manitowoc County for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment. As Redditor KingLimes puts it, “Don’t forget,  million dollars was on the line. There was no limit to how far law enforcement would have gone.”
Theory 4: It’s all related to a secret sex club
A gentleman who claims to be a Manitowoc resident has posted three videos to YouTube, in which he explains that he was jetskiiing right by the beach in 1985 when Penny Beernsten was assaulted. Avery was convicted of that assault; he went to jail for 18 years, and then was exonerated, thanks to DNA evidence. On YouTube, the man who saw Beernsten on the beach that day says that there was something fishy going on; he seems to think the assault was actually connected to the alleged sex club, but pinned on Avery. He believes that many prominent businessmen, cops and school employees were part of this secret sex club, and claims that years later, he was shown Polaroids of (naked) members of said club, and encouraged to join. Redditor DennaAbusesKvothe sums it up thusly: “The club threatened him because he refused to join, and he suspects them of ruining his business and murdering his manager—a woman who died under suspicious circumstances. Her boyfriend was falsely accused of shooting her, but then the death was ruled a heart attack.” This commenter goes on to opine:
Steven Avery had no particular reason to rape and murder a woman on Halloween.
But Halloween would be the #1 day for a satanic sex cult to have a ritual sacrifice, even if it was just some goth kids playing wannabe devil worshipers “for fun”.
And user jkschmidt writes, “I think the sex cult theory is incredibly interesting, especially since it later is revealed that [Calumet County district attorney/special prosecutor Ken Kratz] was sexual harassing a bunch of his clients and had to check into sex / prescription drug rehab!”
Theory 5: It had something to do with drugs
This theory is related to Theory 3, in that it implicates law enforcement officials. Here’s redditor DennaAbusesKvothe again:
Did Teresa Halbach have photos of a marijuana field in someone’s back yard? Someone under the protection of corrupt officials? Maybe, like many professional photographers, she wanted to do something more important than Auto Trader. Maybe she considered herself a freelance reporter, and maybe she knew too much. That’s why someone had been threatening her, and that’s why she was scared.
Maybe someone in the Avery family was dealing drugs, and maybe the drug trade was controlled by corrupt government employees. That’s the missing connection that caused seemingly unrelated people to work together, under orders from their bosses.
Drugs are not mentioned in the documentary at all, but you do see Steven Avery’s father with some gigantic fish tanks. Redditor WiscoBiz posits: “Maybe the Averys weren’t going to grow fish in those tanks? Maybe they were for a hydroponic marijuana operation?”
ADDITIONAL THEORY: The ex did it
In this thread, Redditor jaredwa points out that Halbach’s ex-boyfriend had her voicemail password, and suggests the guy might have known more than he let on. Meanwhile, this gif supposedly shows weird body language between the ex and Halbach’s brother. (Although Redditor shvasirons has a totally different theory about the ex and the brother.)
Remember: This is all speculation—just opinions, imaginings and musings—but the fact that so many people have so many theories is a testament to how complicated the case is. Nothing is black and white. There are no clear-as-day answers. If you can’t get enough, and want to go down a bottomless rabbit hole of Avery/Dassey/Halbach/Manitowoc County happenings, just start right here.