Teresa’s Inner Circle

Ryan Hillegas in sunglasses, waving

This is a follow up on my last post, after I got to thinking about it some more.  The first observation that I’ll make is how stunning it is that none of the people that know Ryan Hillegas, or knew him at the time of Teresa Halbach’s murder have stepped forward publicly to either defend or implicate him.

We do know, however, that Ryan Hillegas has been the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation ever since the airing of Making A Murderer.  I was the first to raise the alarm when I flew out to Wisconsin to meet with many of the Averys on Christmas Day, 2015 to ask them whether the name Ryah Hillegas had any significance, and if not, why it should.  I took a lot of criticism for doing that even from the Averys themselves who called the Manitowoc Sheriff’s Department to have me trespassed from their property.  Since then I have been called by many unflattering names, but the name Ryan Hillegas has not receded from view.  Quite the contrary.

For example, Ryan’s name was featured several times in Kathleen Zellner’s August 26th, 2016 motion, and Jerry Buting goes out of his way to devote several paragraphs in his new book, Illusion of Justice, to point up the fact that law enforcement did a lousy job of vetting all possible suspects by not even bothering to ask Ryan for an alibi.

At some point we have to lay this to rest.  To state the obvious, either Ryan Hillegas killed Teresa Halbach, or he didn’t.  Anyone who has followed this case even casually has had to give him very serious consideration as a suspect.  Why? His odd responses when he was under oath and being questioned by Jerry Buting; his physical proximity and emotional closeness to Teresa; his lack of an alibi (that we know of), and perhaps most suspicious of all, the scratches that he had on both of his hands after the murder.

Let’s examine both scenarios starting with the first one, that Ryan did murder Teresa, and let’s examine both of these scenarios within the context of his inner circle.

First, it should be no surprise that those who would stand to most want to know the real truth, the ones most we should be able to count on to be reliably passionate about, and dedicated to justice, would be Teresa’s inner circle, beginning with her mother, her siblings, and her stepfather, Tom.  Surely they must have all the answers that the rest of us so ardently seek.  Surely someone within Teresa’s and Ryan’s broadly overlapping inner circle would have asked Ryan to account for where he was on that fateful day Teresa was murdered.

If law enforcement was derelict in asking Ryan for his alibi on the day Teresa went missing, surely Teresa’s mother and Scott Bloedorn would have asked him.  And the same would go for all of the people that knew Ryan.  Was he at work that day?  Visiting someone?  Out of town?  Did all of this check out when they sought to verify his statements?  Or, maybe he told all of them that he doesn’t have an alibi for the day Teresa went missing, but maybe his all around, good guy reputation put him above suspicion?

What did Ryan tell Teresa’s family and friends?  Did he tell them that he didn’t know whether it was light or dark outside the last time he saw her?  That’s what he said when he was questioned by Jerry Buting.

Or what about those scratches on his both his hands that look like they were left by someone he was strangling?  How were those explained away?

How is it possible that Ryan’s explanation, whatever it was,  didn’t arouse some suspicion by someone close to Teresa?  Surely Ryan must have had a solid alibi, or maybe some proof that he wasn’t in the area, or couldn’t have been based on driving distance, and so forth.  Oddly, however, of the hundreds of people who know Ryan, none have ever stepped forth to even so much as suggest that he had an alibi, let alone confirm one.

Now, you and I don’t know for sure whether he has an alibi like the Halbach’s do.  But we do know that because the Halbach’s support the convictions of Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery, they must be satisfied with Ryan even if he doesn’t  have an alibi for the day Teresa was murdered.  But if Ryan has told the Halbach’s that he didn’t have an alibi, what more would they have to go on than what we, the general public public have to go on?  We at least should want to know why there is such a massive dichotomy between what they believe, and what so many people suspect.  

Frankly, to me it seems utterly impossible that Ryan wouldn’t have become the object of suspicion among Teresa’s inner circle if he didn’t have an alibi.  Human nature being what it is, his smooth talk might have worked for one or two, possibly three or four, but there is no way that it worked for everyone, not with those scratches, not with his past history with Teresa.  So those who were close to Teresa, her older family members, her brother, certainly Teresa’s mother— must know the truth.  

You and I don’t have the luxury of putting Ryan on the stand, or launching a proper investigation as should have happened so long ago, but Teresa’s family was in a privileged position to grill Ryan, to insist that he give a fuller account of his whereabouts on the day Teresa was murdered.  He moved into to Teresa’s old bedroom as soon as she moved out, or I guess I should say, was murdered.  I don’t think it would be irresponsible to speculate that Teresa’s family must know if that Ryan is guilty.  

Therefore, all those who believe in Steven’s innocence and also view Ryan Hillegas as a very likely suspect must contend with this.  If we are sure it is Ryan Hillegas, we can be sure that the Halbach’s are sure, and if we are sure that they’re sure, then we also have to contend with why they keep insisting that two innocent men are the culprits.

If Ryan did have an alibi, then why did he lie in court about his not remembering whether it was light or dark outside the last time he saw Teresa?  This piece simply doesn’t make sense.  And there are other pieces as well that don’t, but this one really stands out.  And even if Ryan had claimed to have a solid alibi to, and all of Teresa’s family members and friends believed him up to this point, wouldn’t some of them by now have cause for doubt?

So the most important question we have to ask ourselves is this: If Ryan Hillegas murdered Teresa Halbach, does Teresa’s mother know?  She and Teresa were close according to everyone.   It’s likely that Teresa and her mother talked about everything.  Teresa’s mother would have been well familiar the, with Ryan, and the intensity of his passion for her daughter.


To add the next link in the chain of logic, we are now obliged to wade into territory that is murkier still.  If Teresa’s family knows Ryan Hillegas to be Teresa’s murderer, why are they satisfied that the wrong men are serving life sentences for it?  To put it as plainly as possible, why are they protecting Ryan Hillegas?

There is only one explanation that I can think of that makes sense and one, even, that seems to fit with the facts as we currently know them.  It would also explain why the Halbach family has behaved so strangely since the release of Making A Murderer.  Ryan figured out some way of involving Teresa’s younger brother, Mike Halbach, in either Teresa’s murder, the cover up that took place immediately after her murder, or both.

There is no doubt that Ryan Hillegas had his hooks into the Halbach family, and it is clear that he put a lot of effort into orchestrating ways to get close to Teresa even if she wanted to get away from him.  All of the evidence points to this.  Ryan moved into Teresa’s house after she was murdered.  Probably slept in her bed, went through her personal belongings, reminisced about the happy by gone days when they were lovers.  He initiated and lead the search for her body, and who, but her brother Mike, was by his side all the while?

The idea here is that though Ryan’s efforts to convince Teresa to be with him after she decided to move on were unsuccessful, he tried to go around her by currying favor with her family members who he hoped to influence, and he hoped that influence would translate pressure felt by Teresa.  Ryan groomed Teresa’s brother, Mike, in this effort as well, and we can only guess at what extent he involved himself in the younger man’s life.  What on the surface was a guy who wished to gain a reputation for being helpful and generally terrific, was underneath the covers a diabolical schemer.  His goal was to recruit everyone who knew Teresa to impress upon her his sterling virtues.  I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing that Teresa saw right through these crude manipulations and counted them prominently as her reason for rejecting Ryan.

However crude Ryan’s efforts may have been, they did take some cunning, and some planning.  How bitterly disappointed he must have been to invest all this effort for so long a period of time only for all of it to be ignored by its sole object.  And not just ignored, but for all of it to blow up in the most spectacular form imaginable.  It is shown in the CASO report that Teresa was sexually active with one of Ryan’s best friends (and Teresa’s roommate) Scott Bloedorn.  Some best friend, huh?  In Ryan’s possessive mind this had to have been an insult akin to cuckoldry.  Is this the sort of thing which sometimes leads to murder?  Well, yes it is!  And it wasn’t just Scott.  There was also Brad, and others too.

Imagine Ryan’s humiliation.  All of those schemes come to naught.  All of those schemes, so carefully planned and executed so patiently over months and even years blowing up right in his face.  This is the stuff of murder, people.  This is the stuff of murder.

Did Ryan have access to all of Teresa’s electronic communications?  There is every reason to believe he did (he was the one, after all, who “guessed” the username and password to her Cingular account).  If so, he would have had a front row seat to her love life.  Imagine what THAT would do to a jealous mind.

Speaking of which, right before Teresa was murdered, Bradley Czech sent a text message to Teresa.  This is how it is written up in the CASO report by John Dedering: He stated that he had text messaged TERESA at 1245 hrs. on 10/31/05.  I’m not suggesting that Ryan had any way of intercepting her text messages, but what if Ryan met Teresa at her house where he was known to often show up announced?  Maybe there was idle chit chat for awhile before Teresa excused herself to use the restroom, and while he was unobserved, Ryan went through her text messages.  We’ll never know, but if Ryan murdered Teresa, there was probably some straw that broke the camel’s back, and it seems very likely that this could have been it.

If Ryan murdered Teresa, and we have to account for Teresa’s family knowing about this, how do we account for their bizarre behavior?  It really is difficult to say, but allow me to suggest one plausible scenario: Maybe Ryan immediately confessed his deed to a stunned Mike Halbach?  

We know by the outtakes that were show on Making A Murderer and are now on social media that Mike was following Ryan around like a puppy dog when the search for Teresa was still ongoing.  He also made a lot of very odd comments.  So we really have to ask ourselves what influence did the older Ryan have on the much younger Mike?  How much did Mike look up to Ryan?  How would Mike have responded if he Ryan came to him with the tragic news that he had somehow accidentally killed his sister?  

If Ryan had been successful in cultivating his reputation for being a swell guy, and it evidently was, Mike would have all of that to consider if Ryan had come to him with tragic news of his sister’s untimely demise.  If Mike knew Ryan to be a decent human being, what reason would there be to suppose he would view his sister’s death, if at the hand of Ryan, to be the product of sinister motive?  How clear it must have been to all how much Ryan loved Teresa, and clearer still how pathetic and cruel she had made his existence by destroying his hopes most embarrassingly and leaving his ardent love wholly unrequited?

Moreover, in situations such as these, it is not necessarily a matter of what others observe.  Ryan spoke in such a way, or conveyed an attitude which made his seem pathetic.  By some means he made himself to be known as a victim of Teresa’s obstinance and indifference.  In all probability he caused others to even sympathize with him on account of it.  And he probably did so relentlessly and over so long a period of time, that the normal familial bonds which normally would have made the family member, Teresa, the default object of understanding, became rearranged.

Ryan would have been in a position to play on Mike’s emotions, or even to suggest that Teresa would not be his only loss if he were to face the full consequences of his actions which would inevitably include a long prison term.  If this was all an accident, wasn’t it all terribly unnecessary?  What would Mike do to ensure that the one, older male figure in his life, his de facto big brother, not have his life and reputation permanently ruined?  

These are the thoughts that would have quickly raced through Mike’s mind. Okay, Ryan needs help here.  Put body out of mind.  Lend assistance.  But how?  To dispose of the body?  To move Teresa’s car to the place where it had last been known to be?  Maybe even, as a last resort, to provide an alibi if one was ever demanded?

Whilst helping Ryan, the naive Mike Halbach would scarcely be aware that he was also making himself complicit in a very serious crime.  And then there was Ryan’s diabolical nature to consider.  Imagine that some portion of the extent of it did occur to Mike after it was already too late?  Did Mike ever wonder, after he dug his sister’s grave and said his last goodbyes whether he even had a choice?

How easy it would have been for Ryan to have insisted that it was Mike who came to him to cover up some unfortunate accident HE had had with his sister, and not the other way around.  Where would that leave him?

When we watch Making A Murderer, Mike Halbach acts just as bizarrely as Ryan does, if not more so.  We seem him out in front of the media giving statements all the time.  I am not the only one to ever mention that there is just something off about it.  If we imagine that his ardor comes not from wishing to see Steven Avery imprisoned for life, but to save his own skin, it all kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

And if Karen Halbach knows that Ryan Hillegas killed her daughter, where does that leave her?  What a cruel, miserable position for any mother to be in: not only must she keep the kind of dark secrets that would eat away at a decent human heart like a cancer, she knows that to seek justice for her daughter is one in the same with seeking condemnation for her son.

We may also entertain the alternative theory that Ryan Hillegas did not murder Teresa Halbach, and that her family has incontrovertible proof of this that no one else has.  But there’s a problem with this theory.  If we consider the massive tsunami of attention Ryan Hillegas has already begun to generate, and the multitude of even more massive tsunamis that are surely on their way if any of this conjecture is correct, it would only make sense for those in the know to come forward to explain the exact reasons why their suspicions are baseless.  It is true that they do not owe anyone such an explanation, but it is also true that no one owes Ryan the benefit of the doubt considering all of the reason that currently exist to nurture that doubt.  

For those who care about Ryan, there is no other course of action that any reasonable person would pursue.  So in the absence of such explanation, all we have is silence, and that silence speaks volumes.  Ryan Hillegas is becoming thought of as Teresa Halbach’s murderer by an entire world.  Needless to say, his reputation is on the line.  Is it really realistic to think that decent people who say that love Ryan would just stand by and let this happen?




  • We can only interpret what we know happened, and speculate the rest. We know he was never really vetted, never asked for an alibi surrounding the timeframe in question. He didn’t declare his and Teresa’s past romantic relationship. Her family DIDN’T either and that is VERY odd.

    Ryan contacted AT&T multiple times on Nov 3rd. Why would he do that, he had a different cell provider?
    Ryan and Teresa stopped daily phone calls around Oct 25th. Why? They talked almost daily before that. What happened?
    Ryan entered the ASY under a false name at least once. Why? Why would he even be ALLOWED on the property.
    Ryan moved into Teresa’s house. Maybe. I’m not convinced he wasn’t already living there.
    Ryan organized an impressive grid search for Teresa, but didn’t send anyone to the Avery’s. WHo the fbomb believes this horse crap? He knew Teresa went there.

    And the two biggest questions of all. How did Ryan get into Teresa’s AT&T account? He sure as fbomb didn’t guess his way into it.Why did the cops call him 20+ times on Nov 4th?

    I don’t know the depth of Ryan’s involvement is in Teresa’s disappearance. But he IS involved in some aspects.

    Other questions remain about other people in her life. With the exception of Teresa’s new friend that told Pagel about the affair with BC and the gf from the recent Dateline episode, we have heard nothing from her so called friends. I find that remarkable for such a loved young lady. And a damn shame.

    • Everyone in that community is afraid to talk. The party line is that Avery did it. To state otherwise is to risk social ostracism or worse. I witnessed this firsthand when I went there.

  • ssmidt_03@hotmail.com

    I’m no fan of RH (I find him a bit creepy), but I just cannot believe the Halbach’s are “in on it,” unless of course, she’s not really dead which would take this fraud to a whole other level. The only thing I’m certain of after over a year of looking at this is Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey’s innocence and the corruption in law enforcement in Manitowoc County. Apparently, there’s more to that story too and may soon be released by author Chad Keller, Beyond Avery Road: Buting and the Beast. Let’s see if it makes it to release. Very serious allegations on the relationship between Jerry Buting and Peg Lautenschlager. I couldn’t understand why, oh why, certain things were not investigated more thoroughly by Avery’s defence counsel, like the phone records? Nevertheless, I still can’t believe they found Avery guilty on the so-called “evidence” that was presented which made absolutely no sense what-so-ever. But, they did! Now, I actually believe Avery will never get out. I wish Zellner the best but the corruption in WI permeates the entire system and unless key figures are turfed to the curb and honest individuals elected, nothing will change. Sad, but true. Yet, I cling to a thread of hope that she can prove me wrong for Steven and Brendan’s sake. And not just for them, but for all those that have been unjustly imprisoned by corrupt LE, otherwise, all hope is lost.

  • I’ve often wondered why he doesn’t give an interview to answer those questions. Pretty sure Nancy Dis-grace would have paid him to appear on her show before she retired (she often denied ever paying her guests but there are ways around that, usually saying they are paying for photographs used during the interview). It would seem to be a logical thing for him to do, and an easy way to tell the world his side of the story. I’ve also wondered if a person has the right to bring charges of slander or defamation of character when repeatedly called a murderer, and if so, why hasn’t he?