Why The Key Planted By Ken Kratz in Steve Avery’s Trailer Doesn’t Match

Now that we know that the key found on the floor of Steven Avery’s trailer on November 8th, 2005 and the key in the official evidence photograph are not the same key, the only thing that there is left to do is to figure out why.

Calumet County Wisconsin, the general location out of which Ken Kratz worked, is located almost one hundred miles away from Madison, Wisconsin where there is a branch office of the Wisconsin Crime Lab.  When a criminal matter is being investigated in Wisconsin, evidence is shipped from various counties is sent to one of the crime labs, but it is not kept there.  Once it is has been processed, it is shipped back to the county from which it arrived.

When Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 was discovered on the Avery property on November 5th, 2005, it was shipped off to the Wisconsin Crime Lab in Madison that very same day, and on the 11th of that very same month and year, it was shipped back to Calumet County.  In the official CASO document, it is reported by Cpl Wendorf…

On 11/11/05 at 1000 hours, I (Cpl. CHRIS WENDORF of the CALUMET COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT) was asked to report to the sheriff’s department for a scheduled trip to Madison to retrieve two vehicles with tow units.

Cpl goes on to state in that very same report:

Also given to me by MEIER was a key the WI STATE CRIME LAB had made in order to enter the Toyota RAV4 vehicle as the original vehicle key had not been located at the time they had received the vehicle

Ken Kratz, the person I believe planted evidence including the key found in Steven Avery’s bedroom on or around November 8th, would not have had any way to make a duplicate of the key actually needed to open and operate Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4 because it was still at the crime lab.  That’s why the key doesn’t match.  At the same time, this person knew that the crime lab would be making its own key, and that this key would be shipped back to Calumet County along with the vehicle once it had gone through processing.  The official report indicates that this is exactly what happened on November 11th, 2005.  Thus, the key used as the plant in Steven Avery’s bedroom could be swapped with a duplicate of the duplicate key sent back from the crime lab so that if it were used later to start the vehicle or if it were compared against the other key for some reason it would match.

Why a copy of the copy, you might wonder?  Well, the key made by the crime lab to enter the RAV4 had its own tag number which was 8037.  The key found in Avery’s trailer had its own tag number too, of course, 7620, but that key, as mentioned, wouldn’t have been able to open or start the RAV4, so it needed to be replaced with a duplicate of the key made by the crime lab.  

Speaking of key duplicates, if you’ve ever had one made, the first thing you notice is that  it looks and feels different than a key which has been in use for some time does.  You would expect that it would be shinier, and that the tooling marks would be more crisp and pronounced than what you would expect to find on a key that’s had daily use for some time.  As it so happens, this is exactly what we do see even in the closeup evidence photographs of the key purported to belong to Teresa Halbach’s 1999 Toyota RAV4.

Ken Kratz, in planting the key in Steven Avery’s bedroom, did do one very clever thing though (that he later bragged about on Dr. Phil): He attached it to the female end of a lanyard, and the reason he did this is because he knew that the attaching end of a blue lanyard, with white lettering on it spelling out “Air National Guard” was found in the RAV4.  It was his hope that this would stand as irrefutable evidence that the key came from Teresa Halbach’s vehicle.

Nevertheless, if the RAV4 and all of its contents, including the Air National Guard lanyard were in Madison, Wisconsin until November 11th, whoever planted the key in Steven Avery’s trailer wouldn’t have had access to the material or even the exact color of the lanyard, so one should also expect that this wouldn’t match perfectly, and, again, that is exactly what we find.

The planting of the key by Ken Kratz was a brilliant stroke, but to fully understand why, we have have to once again get in Kratz’s head to understand why he took what for most of us would have been a huge risk.  Though the key found on the floor of Steven Avery’s trailer was sent to the crime lab, Kratz didn’t have to worry very much that it wouldn’t have matched the key made at the crime lab to enter the RAV4.  

First, he knew that there was little chance that anyone was ever going to compare the two, and if someone did, the conclusion reached would not have been that the lead prosecutor on the case was planting evidence, but simply that there was a Toyota key found on the floor of Steven Avery’s trailer that looked like it belonged to the part of the blue lanyard with the Air National Guard lettering on it found in Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 but it turned out not to be the case.  Since, in that case, it wouldn’t have been evidenced used against Steven Avery in court, it would have just ended up being little more than a momentary headscratcher.  Someone who works at a salvage yard comes into contact with a lot of vehicles, and therefore a lot of keys to those vehicles.  Also here is the fact that here had been innumerable people in and out of Steven Avery’s trailer during the time that technicians and law enforcement personnel were going through it looking for things.

Beyond all of this is yet another consideration: What upwardly mobile young woman goes around with a single car key, the spare key at that, attached to a long, looping bright blue lanyard with white lettering advertising the Air National Guard?

The final item worth of our analysis is another illogical claim made by Kratz who, on Dr. Phil said the fact the key was attached to a blue lanyard of Halbach’s proved it was authentic.  Kratz seems to get confused about certain things sometimes.  The frame job really belonged to Kratz, and he seems to actually resent anyone criticizing his work.  On a certain level, he is proud of what he has done, and he wants to be admired for it.  So strong is his thirst for admiration and his insistence that the significance of the key should mean what he hopes for it to mean that he actually forgets that it means absolutely nothing if if was planted.




  • Yea, that key we see in evidence is clearly brand new. Daily use keys do NOT look like that. But as we’ve all said, Kratz never expected this case to go under the microscope. No, he didn’t count on that at all.

  • So what happened to the vehicle? Was the key ever put in the ignition during court to prove it fit?

    • The key was put into the ignition, but not during court. Yes, it def fit, but that doesn’t matter because Kratz had plenty of time to replace the fake key (the one in the picture shown on the floor of Steven Avery’s trailer) with the one that would fit.

  • Also in the pic of Teresa in front of the Rav 4, we can clearly see she had multiple keys. Where are those keys Kratz?

    • Playing devil’s advocate here, it’s not that clear, we don’t know when that picture was taken and just because she might have had her keys on a certain key chain, and together with other keys at one point in time doesn’t mean she didn’t change that configuration at some point in the future. Of course I agree with you, but it’s not proof so solid you could take it to the bank, so to speak.