How Ryan Hillegas Murdered Teresa Halbach, Mike Halbach Helped Him Cover It Up, And How Ken Kratz Framed Two Innocent Men by Planting Evidence: A Concise Theory

Ken Kratz

I don’t know when Kathleen Zellner is going to submit her motion, but before she does, I want to document exactly how I think the murder of Teresa Halbach happened, and how Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey took the fall.  Perhaps I should say at the outset that there was no grand conspiracy on the part of law enforcement. 

Ryan Hillegas murdered Teresa Halbach on October 31st, 2005 after she returned home from her last appoint of the day at Steven Avery’s property.  More than likely the murder happened where Teresa lived.  We know that Ryan could come and go from this location has he pleased, and we also know that he didn’t have an alibi for the day in question.  

The well-documented scratches on both of Ryan’s hands suggest that the method of murder was strangulation.  Did he rape her too?  There are reasons to think that he did, but without a confession from Ryan, I don’t think anyone will ever know for sure.

Soon after her murder, I believe that Ryan had immediate regret, and for this reason, I believe he confessed what he did to Mike Halbach, Teresa’s younger brother who looked up to Ryan.  Mike then had to decide whether he was going to turn Ryan in and thus ruin his friend’s life forever, or whether he was going to help Ryan cover up the murder.  It is also possible that Ryan made up a story to tell Mike that described the murder as some kind of accident.

This probably wasn’t an easy decision for Mike, but once made, there was no going back.  If he helped Ryan in any way, he immediately also became guilty of a very serious crime and would likely face time in prison if caught.  This is why the Halbach family has remained quiet all of these years.  They know that to implicate Ryan is to damn their own son who now has a successful career with the state’s beloved Green Bay Packers, not to mention a wife and children.

After Teresa was murdered, Ryan planted some of Teresa’s blood in the back cargo area of her RAV4, then, either he or Mike drove it to where Ryan knew she had last been which was at Avery Salvage Yard.  The other followed in another vehicle so they would both have a way back home without being noticed from the relatively distant location of Avery Salvage.  One of Steven Avery’s neighbors made a statement that on October 31st he saw two vehicles, one matching the description of Teresa Halbach’s RAV4, and the other a white jeep, drive onto the Avery property.  This neighbor also testified that he saw only the white jeep leave.

After several days go by, Teresa’s mother, Karen Halbach, notifies authorities on November 3rd, 2005 that her daughter has not been heard from for several days.  On November 5th, as Steven Avery is preparing to leave to go up with his family to Crivitz, WI he cuts his right middle finger while loading tin roofing onto his brother Chuck’s flatbed tow truck.  The pictures later taken of this wound on November 9th show that it is a deep cut that would have produced several milliliters of blood.  Thus, before Steven left with his family for Crivitz, he left some of his blood behind.  This might have been on a rag, or a paper towel, and he might have left it outside the trailer, or inside, or both.  By around 6:00 a.m. Steven is on the road on his way up to Crivitz.

A little later on the day of November 5th, 2005, at around 10:00am., Pam Sturm, a member of a search party organized and lead by Ryan Hillegas, finds Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4 on a far off corner of Avery Salvage.  Shortly thereafter Jason Orth of Calumet County Sheriff’s Office arrives at 10:23am. and begins documenting the scene including the names and times of arrival of other law enforcement personnel.  

Orth documents that Ken Kratz arrives on the scene at 1:04pm  Between the time that Kratz arrives and when a person shows up at 2:24pm. to  is to record everyone entering and leaving the property, there are only a handful of people that Orth records as being on the scene.  It is also worth mentioned that in Orth’s notes, it is clear that he has talked to Earl to get Steven’s cell phone number, and also to determine exactly which members of the Avery family went to Crivitz.

It is during this interval of time that blood-stained material is found in or near Steven Avery’s trailer.  It is quite possible that this material is found by Ken Kratz, but whatever the case, Kratz takes possession of it.  Crucially, someone calls Steven Avery and asks him about the blood soaked material on his property that still looks rather fresh.  Steven Avery (or it might have been someone in his family) relates that he cut a finger on his right hand while loading tin roofing material onto his brother’s flatbed tow truck.

The sign in/out sheet documents that at 8:42pm. November 5th, 2005, Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4 leaves the Avery property headed for the Wisconsin Crime Lab in Madison in the back of a trailer pulled by a truck driven by Nick Mirsberger.  It is at this exact time that Guang Zhang and John Ertl, agents from Wisconsin’s Dept. of Criminal Investigations (DCI) also leave the Avery property to follow Nick Mirsberger up to Madison.  The sign in/out sheet also documents that Ken Kratz leaves the property at this exact same time.  Ken Kratz also arrives at the crime lab.

The RAV4 arrives at the crime lab in Madison, WI at around 1:00am. on November 6th.  Some time after the RAV4 is unloaded at the crime lab in Madison, the door to the RAV4 is unlocked, and Ken Kratz finds an opportune moment to plant the blood that was collected earlier in the day at the Avery property.  By this time, Ken has heard Steven Avery’s story about the cut, and which hand and even which finger sustained the injury, and that is why he makes the most obvious blood plant around the ignition switch.  He clearly knows it will match up with the cut on Avery’s finger.  But this is not the only evidence which Kratz plants.  

He also has another source of Steven Avery’s DNA, perhaps collected from an article of clothing, and he plants this on the infamous hood latch.  Why there?  Because not long after the RAV4 arrived at the crime lab in Madison, Kratz saw someone pop the hood of the RAV4 to disconnect the battery cables which was standard protocol.  He probably also plants evidence on the battery cables too, but whoever it was that took swabs of this area didn’t know precisely where Kratz had planted the DNA on the cables, and therefore the swabs didn’t pick up any.

The evidence associated with the case, much of it containing the DNA of either Teresa Halbach or Steven AVery, is brought to the evidence room in Calumet County where Kratz has unrestricted and unobserved access to all of it.  Kratz eventually realizes that the success of his prosecution is hampered without a body, so he takes pains to produce one, probably by finding some old bones in the storage locker from an unsolved case from many decades ago.  He has also managed to obtain the spare key to Teresa’s RAV4 along with her camera and her cell phone.  More than likely these items were found in the RAV4 when he entered it to plant the blood evidence.

Kratz plants all of the additional evidence all at the same time, in various places which have already been thoroughly searched.  And so it is that all of the additional planted evidence, the key, the bullet, and the bones, are discovered at about the same time.  I do not believe that either Lenk or Colborn had knowledge of what Kratz was up to before they discovered the key, and the same could be said for whoever discovered the bullet and the bones.

As for whether Thomas Fassbender and Mark Wiegert knew that Kratz planted evidence, my thought is that they weren’t in on it.  Ken Kratz, as the only one who had the evidence, and as the only one who planted evidence, was in a position to influence how other people were thinking.  It was Fassbender who ordered the swabs to be taken of the hood latch (along with others areas of the RAV4 including the battery cables) but it well might have Ken Kratz who put the notion in his head.

There you have it.  April 10th, 2017