It Wasn’t Easy To Burn Teresa Halbach’s Body
Using fire to dispose of the dead is a common cultural practice in many parts of the world. So common, in fact, that it has become a matter of concern to climate scientists and others as each pyre releases into the atmosphere an alarming quantity of greenhouse gas. In India and Nepal alone, there are over 7 million of these fires annually, and many more than this number in other parts of the world.
Because the practice has been carefully studied by scientists, it is known that each body takes approximately 1,200 pounds of cured wood held at a steady temperature for between four to six hours. Only by such efforts is it possible to ensure complete incineration of all soft tissue.
If Teresa Halbach had been consumed in flames in Steven Avery’s backyard burn pit, we are obliged to consider how the logistics of this might have played out. For example, what was his fuel source? Was this source of fuel collected before or after Teresa Halbach’s murder?
If firewood had been the primary fuel source, he would have needed twelve hundred pounds of it¹.
Some of the simple follow up questions would be: Did anyone on the Avery property keep that much wood around? Did anyone heat their home with wood? Did anyone notice sizable stacks of wood around the burn pit or close to Steven Avery’s trailer shortly before Teresa Halbach went missing? Had Steven Avery recently purchased a lot of wood?
Or was Steven Avery able to round up enough scrap wood already located on the property to keep a fire going for four or more hours? According to the prosecution, this was a premeditated murder. According to the prosecution, prisoners who had spent time with Steven Avery when he had been a prisoner had reported that Steven Avery discussed how fire would be the ideal way to dispose of incriminating evidence left on a body. Therefore, if Steven Avery murdered Teresa Halbach in the manner in which he’s was convicted, his choice of a fuel source, and his collecting this source wouldn’t have been an afterthought.
If it had been an afterthought, he would have been obliged to collect a great quantity of suitable fuel on the fly. At least 150 gallons of gasoline² would have been needed if gas was the fuel for the fire. If used tires had been the fuel source he would have needed about forty used tires.
It should be possible to rule gasoline out as the fuel source since there are forensic tests specifically designed to detect these kinds of accelerants whenever arson is suspected. We should assume that such testing has already been performed, and that we all would have heard about it by now as it would have been brought up during trial.
It is also difficult to imagine how, without special equipment, this quantity of liquid fuel could have been safely applied to a raging fire without creating a significant hazard to the person applying it.
Old tires might have been used, but this too seems highly unlikely for several reasons. There are about 15 MJ/Kg in wood, and in rubber 32 mj/kg. But in tires, only 15% of total weight comes from rubber, with an additional sixteen to seventeen percent coming from fabric, fillers, and other material. If 1,200 pounds of cured wood is needed to completely cremate a body, very conservatively that would be 600 pounds of car tire³. If a used car tire weighs about 20 pounds, the equivalent of 30 tires would have been required to burn Teresa Halbach’s body to the state in which it was discovered. The problem here is that tires leave behind all of the spooled steel wire used in their manufacture. Some of this was indeed found in Steven Avery’s burn pit behind his red trailer, but only enough to account for maybe one or two tires as you can see from the picture of the burn pit in question taken by forensic experts..
- How much wood does it take to cremate a body?
- How much gasoline does it take to cremate a body?
- How many used tires does it take to cremate a body?
- (mj/kg for rubber in tires)