Ken Kratz’s Letter to Steven Avery Reveals Something Important
To believe in Steven Avery’s innocence is to believe that someone must have planted evidence to frame Steven Avery. There is no way around this as Avery’s blood in Teresa’s Toyota RAV4, to say nothing of the key, the bullet or the bones in the backyard fire pit, could not be plausibly explained any other way. The usual suspects, so far, have been Colborn, and Lenk, and really all of law enforcement in that area, but as I have made clear, I have reason to believe that there is plenty of reason to doubt there involvement as Ken Kratz is a far more likely suspect as the chief, if not the sole, depositor of false evidence.
There is this thing I read about awhile ago called theory of mind (ToM) which, so far as I can tell, boils down to a formal way of describing the ability to get inside someone’s head. It can be useful too, especially in sorting out what might have motivated a person’s behavior.
During the crime scene investigation at the Avery property, what was going in the minds’ of investigators? What was going on in Kratz’s mind? Most importantly, if Steven Avery was framed, did his framer or framers believe that he was the one who actually killed Teresa Halbach?
The letter that Ken Kratz sent to Steven Avery in late 2015, just before Netflix released Making A Murderer, is interesting for more than the usual character traits we have seen so often in the personage Ken Kratz—his steadfast refusal to question the validity of his own beliefs; his oily cupidity; and his overweening smugness—but daring to peer beyond all of that, what the letter seems to reveal is that Kratz really does believe in Avery’s guilt. If that were not the case, why else would Kratz be urging Avery to come clean about his involvement in Teresa Halbach’s murder? Yes, Kratz was trying to make a quick buck, but if he knew in his heart of hearts that Avery was innocent, I don’t think he would have been urging Avery, as he did, to tell him the full story. If this is true, and we consider the totality of the aftermath of all that Kratz wrought, it redeems his character ever so slightly before it, upon even further consideration, damns it yet again. We can at least take some comfort in knowing that Kratz did not do something as depraved as framing someone he knew to be innocent, but, on the other hand, if, knowing all that we know about the depraved and sick character of Ken Kratz, we know with reasonable certainty that he sincerely believed that Avery was guilty, it is not too difficult to believe that he stepped in to give matters a helping hand.
And if Ken Kratz believed, up until 2015 that Steven Avery was guilty, there are even more staggeringly important things that can be inferred. For one, he could not, obviously, have also believed that Ryan Hillegas was also guilty, and this also rules out the possibility that there might have been a sinister collusion between Kratz and Hillegas. By sinister I mean the sort of collusion wherein Kratz knew Ryan to be the killer but pretended all along that it was Steven Avery. We might also give Kratz the benefit of the doubt by assuming he did not have full knowledge of the extent of Teresa and Ryan’s relationship until sometime well after Ryan’s repeated trips to the salvage yard after it had been cordoned off as a crime scene in November of 2005. Despite Kratz’s presence at the Avery salvage yard, the job of questioning possible witnesses did not fall within the purview of his official duties as prosecutor, and there is no reason to think he had any reason to ask Ryan Hillegas, Scott Bloedorn, or anyone else whether they had ever been intimately involved with Teresa Halbach. If Kratz knew anything about Ryan’s relationship with Teresa, it was probably that they were “just friends” as Ryan liked to say, and that was technically true.
I want to get back to the ToM idea for a moment to make, (or at least try to make) a vital connection. Kratz is a compulsive, pathological liar as has been fairly well established. I would point out that there is something about about the pattern of the supposed “evidence” against Steven Avery which, in its sheer volume and variety, bears the tell tale signature of his lies. If we know Kratz to be a liar, and there can be zero doubt about that, what is the one thing that would propel someone accustomed to performing relatively trivial acts of wickedness into crossing a certain mental threshold whereby more consequential and daring acts of turpitude would be attempted?
A high risk tolerance. Some people are risk averse, while others seek their thrills. So, where, might we surmise, does Ken Kratz fall on this scale? I would argue, and adduce evidence, even, that Ken Kratz has shown, even in his own words, that his tolerance for risk is very high and in light of this personality trait, I think my argument that Kratz is the likely depositor of false evidence is further bolstered.
Consider, then, Kratz in the words that he sent Stephanie van Groll, a woman who had sought the services of his office after she found herself the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend:
‘Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA … the riskier the better?’
The riskier the better. Of course, I don’t know what risk there might have been for Ms Van Groll to have a sexual liaison with Ken Kratz, but there was clearly a lot of risk for Kratz, and we know this because it had been exactly these sort of unwelcome texts, along with even more outrageous and immoral acts that caused Kratz to lose just about everything he had: his job, his house, his status, his relationships, and possibly much else. For a person in his position to send out even a single text of this sort was to court utter ruin.
So, if by now I have convinced you that Kratz was capable of depositing false evidence, the next question is whether Ken Kratz would have colluded with anyone else? Well, why would he have needed to? We have to assume he had unrestricted access to the entire crime scene, and that would have included Steven Avery’s trailer and garage. Even if Kratz had been seen entering any corner of Avery’s property, be it inside or outside, this would not have raised any eyebrows.
Couple this with the fact that Kratz worked out of Calumet County. As the District Attorney, he would have probably been the person in the highest position of authority there, and therefore had unrestricted access, night and day, to the areas where evidence in pending cases was stored. That means he would have had access to Steven’s gun, to Steven’s DNA, to pretty much the whole megillah, as they say.
The timing of the discovery of the evidence also comes into play. If it had all been there all along, you would expect the discovery of one piece or the other to be staggered. Maybe the bones on day two, maybe the bullet on day nine, the key at some other random time. But if the evidence was planted more or less at once, then one would expect the discovery of the evidence to happen all at once, and that’s exactly how it happened.
Kratz, in a stroke of sheer, multifaceted, mastermind, criminal brilliance, knew that others would find the evidence that he left behind. He could then just sit on the sidelines while they took the blame while at the same time confidently, and, as it turns out, accurately claiming that the theory of a conspiracy on the part of law enforcement was patently absurd.
He could fool all of law enforcement while at the same time doing them all great harm by bringing literally global scorn upon them; He could fool all of those who believe in Avery’s innocence by erroneously getting them to think Lenk and Colborn played a role (and do a great deal to ruin their lives, as well). And on and on.
In some ways, I kind of feel like I owe the people of Wisconsin an apology. I think they, more than anyone else, understand that there is something terribly wrong about the prevailing theories concerning the involvement of law enforcement. It is this reason, probably more than any other reason, that they have resisted what the Netflix Making A Murderer seemed to be implying, or, may actually have been implying. If something was off about implicating the protectors of their communities, they would have felt it in their gut, they would have known, more than anyone else, that it just wasn’t so.
As I sit here and write this, I fear that I will convince no one, and probably alienate a lot of people, maybe everyone. Almost everyone who believes in Steven Avery’s innocence believes Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office had a hand in framing Steven Avery. But I am not of the constitution to be able to play to an audience, even if that audience agrees with me, and even if we might get along swell if I pretend to agree with them. I don’t expect anyone in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, much less in the sheriff’s department there to read this and find any of it persuasive. But it’s what makes sense to me, and and owing to some constitutional infirmity, I go, unswervingly, wherever my powers of ratiocination guide me.
If Ken Kratz planted one piece of evidence, he planted all of it: the bones, the melted phone and camera, the blood, the “hood latch” DNA, they key, and the bullet. What we’re left with is a Toyota RAV4 in the remotest corner of a salvage yard on the edge of town, and really not much else except for Teresa’s appointments that day, and the murky circumstances surrounding the visit she was paid by her boyfriend the day before.