Are The Battery Cables The Key to Solving This Whole Thing?

As I’ve mentioned previously, a memo went out from someone from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation to the law enforcement personnel in Marinette County.  No one in the public has a copy of this memo, (it’s not in any of the available online records) but Deputy Degnitz refers to it as he approaches the cruiser where Skorlinski and O’Neill are questioning Brendan Dassey.  In the transcript, on about page 11, it looks like he is addressing O’Neill, but in reality, Degnitz is probably directing his question to Kim Skorlinski as it is Skorlinski who works for the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and would thus be more versed in proper protocol. But it is nevertheless O’Neill, his colleague, who supplies audible answers the few questions Degnitz has.

The stop is made near the Avery vacation home in Crivitz and happens just before noon on Saturday November 6th, the day after Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 is discovered on Avery Salvage.  The purpose is to simply collect Steven’s Grand Am, and Chuck Avery’s tow truck so they can be processed for evidence.

In the transcript, what Degnitz says about the memo is as follows:

“You’ve got some kind of memo that if it’s inside it’s supposed to have the battery disconnected…”

Even though the public still does not have access to the memo, it is clear that the memo really is referring to some established protocol of Wisconsin’s crime lab.  Proof?  Well, the photograph of the front of the Grand Am for one thing that clearly shows that an initialed seal has been put on the hood of the Grand Am after it was towed to the police garage.  What else could this possibly mean except that Degnitz dutifully followed the letter of the instructions on the memo which probably instructed to open the hood, disconnect the battery cables, and then, after closing the hood to seal it tape, with the letters of the initials being partly on the tape, and partly on the vehicle.

As for the initials they are blurry and a bit difficult to make out in the photograph, but if we zoom in, they are there, unmistakably:

There is also evidence of the observation of this routine protocol in the CASO report.  Jeremy Hawkins records on 11/20/2006 the following:

[I] was asked by Inv. MARK WIEGERT to connect the battery of the RAV4 and see if the Toyota key that was found in the bedroom of STEVEN AVERY would start the RAV4.

This statement indicates that Mark Wiegert was aware of the protocol that vehicles kept in storage for evidence needed to have their batteries disconnected, and it would further indicate that he specifically knew that the RAV4 had been put in storage exactly this way.

And so it is that when Hawkins leaves later that same day, he records

At approximately 9:47 a.m., the battery was disconnected and the hood to the RAV4 was closed.

Parenthetically, perhaps it should also be mentioned that Hawkins was out at the evidence shed that day to test whether the key found by Sgt. Lenk on 11/08/2005 next to Steven Avery’s bookshelf would start the RAV4.  After sitting in storage for over a year, it started right up.

Now, you may ask why all of this is so important, and what am I leading up to.  Let’s begin with CASO pp 936  Deputy Hawkins recording his duties on 4/03/06:

Deputy HAWKINS did unlock the storage shed. Inv. WIEGERT and Special Agent FASSBENDER had informed us they wished for us to do DNA swabs on the interior and exterior of the door handles of TERESA HALBACH’s vehicle. They also requested DNA swabs done on the hood latch as well as the battery cables for the vehicle

CASO 887 04/03/06 Deputy Hawkins: At approximately 1941 hours, I took a photograph of the hood latch of the Toyota RAV4. At approximately 1945 hours, I took a photograph of the left battery cable of the Toyota RAV4. At approximately 1947 hours, I took a photograph of the right side battery cable of the Toyota RAV4.

CASO 937 4/03/2006 Deputy Hawkins At 1933 hours, I did a DNA swab on the exterior passenger door handle. At 1937 hours, I did a DNA swab on the hood latch to the hood of the vehicle. At 1941hours, a DNA swab was done on the left battery cable. At 1943 hours, a DNA swab was done on the right battery cable.

So, is the picture of the underside of the hood and the hood latch that we see below taken by Deputy Hawkins on 4/03/2006?

Teresa Halbach RAV4 hood latch

Teresa Halbach RAV4 hood latch

For what reason, it might be asked, did they all the sudden need this picture?  If all areas of the RAV4 had been photographed after it had been taken by the crime lab in Madison on 11/05/2205, and before it had been returned to the storage facility in Calumet County on 11/11/2005, why were even more photographs suddenly needed five months later?

And why was is suddenly necessary to take swabs of different areas around the car like the door handles, and the handles to roll down the windows.  Were these what you think would be obvious and routine tasks overlooked by the technicians at the Wisconsin State Crime lab on 11/05/2005?

Picture of disconnected battery cable to Teresas RAV4 taken by Deputy Hawkins on 04/03/2006?

Picture of disconnected battery cable to Teresa’s RAV4 taken by Deputy Hawkins on 04/03/2006?

CASO 838 WIEGERT 5/13/06 Brendan is interviewed by Fassbender and Wiegert

CASO 603 FASSBENDER: what did he do under the hood, if that,s what he did? (pause)

CASO 838 WIEGERT Did he tell you that he unhooked the battery on her jeep?

Doesn’t that strike you as odd?  The very men who ask to have the battery cables “unhooked” before they interview Brendan are the men who ask Brendan why the cables were unhooked.

Where is there any report indicating that the RAV4 had been received in Madison on the 11/5/2005 with the battery cables unhooked?  If there is no such report, and there is no photographic evidence to back this up, what reason did either Fassbender or Wiegert have for thinking otherwise?  If we know that both men knew that it was protocol for crime scene investigators in Wisconsin to disconnect the battery cables of vehicles that they put in storage, and in Wigert’s case there is actually documented proof that he knew this, they should have taken great care to confirm whether the battery cables on the RAV4 were disconnected when the vehicle’s hood was first opened.  So there ought to be a report.

And right now, there is no report that I currently know of which describes whether the Toyota RAV4 was found in its original state with disconnected battery cables.  Of course, be sure that I’ll be looking through the trial transcripts to find testimony about all of this, and will update as I learn more.  I’ll immediately update this post when such report is produced.


Here is what’s at stake.  IF it is possible to prove that 1) it is not known whether the battery cables were connected or not when the RAV4 initially arrived at the State Crime lab in Madison, Wisconsin on the 5th of November, 2005, or, 2) that it is known and that the cables were still connected to the battery at that time and place, then it means that there is every reason to believe that Wiegert and Fassbender had to have known that Brendan Dassey’s testimony was false.  Worse, they both knew that they were very conscious of the fact that they were manipulating Dassey into giving false testimony, and a portion of that false testimony involved trying to get Brendan to implicate Steven as having opened the hood of Teresa’s RAV4.

What’s also odd about Fassbender’s question, particularly, is that it comes straight out of nowhere.  No one was mentioning anything about the RAV4 or Steven before he asked.  It was like the question was on his mind, or that he suddenly thought about the fact that it needed to be asked, and then he asked it.

IF fair minded and decent people look into this further and find that I am accurate in my assumptions, and the outcome of any of this should look favorable to either Brendan or Steven, I would hope that this should all but ensure Avery’s release from prison. I should like to think that it goes a long way in establishing that evidence was planted.  To wit—the disconnected battery cables are supposed to explain the hood latch DNA, but if the battery cables were never disconnected before reaching the crime lab (as documented by how the vehicle arrived at the Madison Crime lab) there would have been no reason to open the hood, and therefore, no reason any of Steven Avery’s DNA should have been on that hood latch.