Netflix’s “Making a Murder” is slowly but surely garnering fans as more people come to the series to learn about the murder of Teresa Halbach in 2005.
If you haven't seen the 10-episode docuseries yet, you may want to stop reading and watch the full story first to avoid any spoilers.
By the end of the docuseries and after a frustrating 10 episodes seemingly corrupt authority figures, suspicious evidence, and arguably a coerced confession from a learning-impaired 16-year-old, Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey are both sentenced to first-degree intentional homicide.
But because of directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, many people online are not convinced of either man’s guilt, or at the very least believe there is too much reasonable doubt for either of them to have been convicted of the murder.
So if not Avery and Dassey, who do Redditors believe could be involved? People are breaking down their theories in the new subreddit /r/MakingaMurderer to determine if there might be an alternative killer.
Here are the four major theories emerging. (Remember, these are all speculative.)
Theory #1: Halbach’s ex-boyfriend Ryan Hillegas is involved somehow.
Hillegas was Halbach’s ex-boyfriend and was featured prominently in “Making a Murderer” both at the trial and immediately after Halbach goes missing. By his own testimony, he and “some people” were able to log into Halbach's cellphone data to try and look at her call log.
Halbach's cellphone was an important part of the trial, not only because Avery called her on the phone to set up an appointment when she would take pictures of his family's car for Auto Trader Magazine, but because the defense argued someone deleted some of her voicemail messages after her death.
Redditors extrapolate that because Hillegas knew or guessed Hallbach's cellphone password, he may have also been the person to delete voicemails from her phone, which may or may not have contained incriminating messages.
Redditors also noticed marks on Hillegas's hand from footage when he’s involved with the original search party for Halbach that they speculate could be human scratches. As far as we know from watching the documentary, he was never asked for an alibi at the time of the murder.
Others don’t believe Hillegas’s involvement means he could have killed Halbach, but instead speculate he and Teresa’s brother Mike may have helped police cover up an illegal search of the Avery property by planning a search of the car yard with volunteers. Perhaps, Redditor shvasirons argues, they also supplied the suspicious car key that was later found by the Manitowoc officer in Avery’s bedroom.
Theory #2: A different suspicious man was involved from a neighboring town.
While Reddit may be new to the case of Steve Avery, a man who goes by the name Brian McCorkle has been blogging about it since 2006 on his website Convoluted Brian. One of his alternative theories involves a woman who moved to the neighboring town of Maribel, Wisconsin, and whose husband was acting extremely suspiciously during the week the crime was likely committed.
McCorkle describes the incident in a post, which you can read in its entirety here. He refers to the woman as “the citizen” and her husband as “the German" while describing bizarre instances like finding "fresh" bones on the property, a mason's hammer with "visible dark red flecks," and a woman's clothes in the closet.
When she contacted the police about the clothing, she wasn't taken seriously.
One night she noted a second floor balcony door was open. She entered the home and secured the door. After that she discovered an opened closet at the base of the stairs with a pair of women’s jeans, a top, and a pillowcase stained with red stains.
She contacted the sheriff’s department. When a deputy arrived, the citizen explained her findings and wondered if the clothing were connected with the Halbach case. She then discussed the other incidents with the deputy. The deputy stated that she believed the Halbach clothing had been recovered! She collected one magazine and the yellow panties.
If the Halbach clothing had been recovered, it was not information that was released at or after the trial of Steven Avery. If not, then the deputy was fabricating.
Most bizarrely, when McCorkle said the woman confronted her husband, "he simply laughed and said no one would believe her."
Reddit users found McCorkle’s old post and one Redditor claimed to have gotten in touch with “the citizen” who was for a short while answering questions on the subreddit until she deleted her account and posts.
Theory #3: Bobby Dassey and Scott Tadych killed Halbach.
Perhaps the most popular theory on Reddit is that Bobby Dassey (Steven Avery's nephew) and Scott Tadych (Avery's brother-in-law) were the ones to kill Halbach.
For those who don’t remember, Dassey and Tadych were one another’s alibi, testifying that they saw each other drive off to go hunting. They were also heavily involved in Avery’s trial.
Dassey — who is also the brother of Brendan Dassey — testified in court that Avery made a joke to him and his friend Mike on November 3 about “get[ting] rid of the body,” an admission that almost lead to a mistrial. The defense argued the testimony was actually from the friend Mike who originally said the conversation took place on November 10. It was a sensational moment in court as well as in the documentary. Some reporters even questioned at the time whether there had been any prosecutorial misconduct, implying the original prosecutor Ken Kratz had Dassey lie on the stand to build a stronger case against Avery.
Meanwhile Tadych was the witness to place Halbach outside and taking pictures of the car in front of Avery's trailer around 2:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. and said she was gone when he left by 3 p.m., which directly contrasts with the bus driver who said she saw Halbach still taking pictures at around 3:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. while driving her route.
In addition, Tadych was the one to testify in court that Avery’s bonfire flames were 10-feet-tall that night when he first told detectives they were around three-feet-tall.
There was also a suspicious mention in the documentary of Tadych trying to sell “one of the Dassey boys’” .22-caliber rifle shortly after the murder. Tadych denied it in court. Halbach is believed to have been shot by a .22.
All of this testimony has lead Redditors to believe the two either killed Halbach together, framed Avery, or both. User Betterwithcheddar explains the possible motive: “It was their intention, it was not chance, it was planned. They knew Steve would be the suspect. They were tired of Steve’s impact on their family, the attention, they wanted him gone again.”
Theory #4: The Halbach murder was used to somehow seize Avery property.
One thing is clear after watching the "Making a Murderer" documentary — the Avery family and their salvage business sits on a large parcel of property.
And while the series may lead viewers to believe something corrupt happened to put both Avery and Dassey in prison for Halbach’s murder, the real question is why would they do that at all?
Reddit user BathRobeJesus believes he may have the answer: It was never about hating Avery and wanting to see him locked up, but instead, had to do with acquiring the family’s 40-acre land.
The connection rests on a man named Doug Hagg, whose name comes up once in the documentary "Making a Murderer." Doug Hagg is said to be the District Attorney's mentor and Redditors discovered he was also the head of a real estate transfers and registry office in Wisconsin.
"There are clear portions of the Avery Property, from current satellite view, imply[ing] that this property is important to the 'mining' that's being done at the 'gravel pit,'" BathRobeJesus argues.
Though he's not sure how the gravel pit or Avery property could be important — perhaps it has access to water, oil, or another natural resource — it would provide another explanation to any alleged conspiracy against Avery and Dassey.