The Battery Cables Were Disconnected at The Crime Lab Per Standard Protocol
The hood release mechanism to Teresa Halbach’s vehicle was not swabbed for DNA until five months after it was first discovered on the Avery Salvage Yard, and not at the WI crime lab after it arrived from The Avery Salvage Yard on the day that it was found. The swabs were taken in April of 2006 by officers of the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department after Mark Fassbender gave the order. There is no explanation for why this swabbing was not done as an afterthought and not when the RAV4 was at the Wisconsin Crime Lab in Madison.
Nevertheless, the following incidents may shed some light…
Steven Avery’s Pontiac was stopped and impounded in Crivitz, Wisconsin on November 6th, 2005 after it was stopped by local police who were on the lookout for it after Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 was found on the Avery property the day before.
Officer Degnitz of Crivitz Sheriff’s Department, began preparing the car to have it towed back to their storage facility while an officer O’Neil continued his questioning of Dassey. At some point, Officer Degnitz approaches to ask ask Kim Skorlinski, a DCI agents who happened to be in the cruiser as a ridealong when the Pontiac was pulled over, about whether the battery cables needed to be disconnected. This is his exact question:
You’ve got some kind of memo that if it’s inside it’s supposed to have the battery disconnected
Since cops usually don’t carry around tools for disconnecting battery cables, Degnitz probably wanted to know whether disconnecting the battery cables could wait until the Pontiac had reached storage.
To be perfectly clear about all of this, the battery cables to Steven Avery’s Pontiac were disconnected when it brought in for processing. A photograph of this was never taken because it would have been silly to do this. But there was a photograph taken of the front of the car and it is clear that there is initialed evidence tape right about where one’s hands would go to open the hood.
This is an important clue because in asking the question about the battery cables, Degnitz revealed what the DCI protocol is for storing vehicles seized as evidence in criminal cases.
Without the reference to the memo about this protocol those who prosecuted Steven Avery would have average person believe that the battery cables were that way when Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 was first found..
When forensic photographer Ronald Groffy arrived at the Wisconsin Crime Lab in Madison on the 6th sometime mid morning, he took one photograph showing only cable disconnected from the RAV4. He testified that the driver’s side door was unlocked, and that he had to get in and unlock the passenger side door.
I wonder why he wasn’t give the key that had to have been made by someone at the crime lab sometime between when it was first received, and when Groffy had arrived. Did someone point out to him that the battery had been disconnected? Who was the person who unlocked the door, and who was the first person to open the hood of the vehicle? No one yet knows.
What is known is that Jerry Buting, Steven Avery’s attorney, asked about all of the photographs that Groffy took that day there were used in court as exhibits. Buting never asked about the photograph taken of the hood release where Steven Avery’s DNA was later found. Was the photograph of the hood taken in April of 2006, when Fassbender ordered the DNA swabs of the hood release?
What would cause Fassbender to suddenly want swabs taken of the hood release? As an experienced DCI agent, his suspicions shouldn’t have been raised by seeing an image of a disconnected battery cable if the protocol called for disconnecting these cables. Wouldn’t the fact that there was nothing unusual about that explain why swabs were never taken at the crime lab to begin with?
And why is it that when the hood release DNA was finally tested, there was only Steven Avery’s DNA found? Not Teresa’s. Not any unknown DNA. Just Steven Avery’s. It’s as if no one ever opened the hood of Teresa’s RAV4 from the time it was manufactured in 1999 until Steven Avery came along.