Below is a transcript, with annotations, of the sworn statements Ryan Hillegas’ made in episode 5 of Making A Murderer . Click here to view the complete court transcript of his court testimony.
Kratz: How did you know Teresa?
Hillegas: I guess she was a long time friend. We had dated for five years or so—end of high school, early part of college
In this statement, Hillegas tries to downplay his relationship with Teresa. The last thing he wants to be known as is the ex boyfriend, so he states that she was a “long time friend”. Instead of more accurately describing her as his form girlfriend, he says they merely “dated” for five years? He also distorts the time frame by saying “end of high school, early part of college”. Unless there as a gap of several years between high school and college, this is only three years.
Kratz: Were you are aware of Ms. Halbach’s living arrangements?
Kratz: And what were they as you recall?
Hillegas: She lived in a house with a friend of ours, Scott Bloedorn
Funny how little we’ve heard from Scott Bloedorn, a “mutual friend”
Kratz: And was it your understanding that Scott and Teresa had any kind of romantic relationship
Hillegas: No..no romantic relationship
So Ryan was close enough to either Scott or Teresa to know about whether they were in a romantic relationship. From whom does he know this? Scott or Teresa, or both?
Kratz: Alright. Just roommates?
Hillegas: Just roommates
Kratz: Mr. Hillegas, when was the first time that you heard your friend Teresa had gone missing?
Hillegas: Uh, Scott had called meand said that Teresa’s dad had went over and asked if he had seen Teresa., and Scott called me and I went over to the house that afternoon. And we printed off her cell phone records off the internet just to see, you know, calls she had made or, you know, if there were other numbers of friends that we could find on there.
First, notice that Ryan actually avoids answering the question which simply asks what time he had heard that Teresa had gone missing. He gives neither a date or a time to indicate when Scott had called him. She was reported to law enforcement as missing on the 3rd of November, 2005 at approximately 4:00pm. So, if he went over to the house in the afternoon, at least his timeline is correct. One pressing question here is why Ryan Hillegas was one of the first people that Scott Bloedorn had gone to in an attempt to locate Teresa. You see here that Ryan is nervous because he repeats the same thing, as we can see highlighted in red. Up to this point, his answers are fluid and come quickly, but the more he is questioned, the more he changes his facial expressions, ability to recall events, and mannerisms. He makes it seem like printing off her phone records was some kind of group effort, but who was the one who came up with the idea? Who is the one who thought it would be a worthwhile effort to even make an attempt? Who was at the computer entering in the guessed passwords? Notice too, that Ryan immediately offers that he printed off the cell phone records. It’s as if he hopes that he’ll be able to glide right by this highly suspicious activity by making it seem routine. Kratz could have tried to get away with not addressing it any further by asking something like, “and what did you find”, something he never bothers to ask, of course, but he knows that he has to give it a little cover, so he throws Ryan a few more softball questions before moving on..
Kratz: Finding her cellphone records, how does something like that occur?
Hillegas: Um, well, there were a couple of us trying to figure it out, but basically I figured out her password and made up a user name that worked and got in her phone records, and, I mean, they printed right off.
Ryan says that a couple of them were trying to figure it out. What he was probably trying to do here, is bring other unwitting parties into the figuring out the password to add a layer of protection. Now, if someone ever accused him of breaching her account, he can say that he wasn’t the only one who knew the password. And who is a couple? This is one of several intentionally vague statements he gives. Is a couple Ryan, Scott and Tom, or is it just he and Tom, or he and Scott? This ambiguity only serves to protect Ryan, in my opinion, and it is anything but accidental. He does at least admit that it is he who figures out the password. The phraseology he uses implies that while the others tried to help, ultimately they were of no use, and it was he alone who figured out the whole thing. By his own testimony, it is clear that Ryan wants everyone to also think that he didn’t know the username ahead of time because he had to make one up, as he says. Well, guessing someone’s username can be as difficult as guessing their password. The odds of guessing both and getting it right between the when Ryan said he went over in the afternoon, and when Teresa was reported missing at 4:00pm are almost astronomical. So we have to entertain the possibility that Ryan knew the username and password all along. And if that seems likely, we have to then wonder whether Ryan ever got into her accounts — let’s assume that like most people her username and password were the same for several if not all of her online accounts — without her permission after they ended their relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. Lastly, it’s not even clear that Cingular Wireless was even using usernames at that time. Here’s a screenshot from the Wayback internet archive that shows the login page for Cingular Wireless:
Image of Cingular login page from 2005 showing that phone number was only thing needed as username
Buting: Now tell me about this online search. She had never shared her password with you?
Even if Ryan is telling the truth here, there are plenty of ways to gain access to this information with various software tools. For a very long time there has been software readily available that can be installed in cloaked directories on someone’s computer that can make a cope of every single keystroke a user types. But to anyone reading this: do you, or have you ever know the username and password of your significant other? Have you ever had an ex who you suspected of getting into your online accounts? It’s a very common thing.
Buting: So, you just went online to Cingular Wireless, or whatever, dot com, and just guessed her password
Hillegas: Well, we had kinda just figured that it would be apparently relating to her sisters, and I believe it was their birthdates which got into it for us. I’m not exactly sure about what the password was, but…
What a lucky guess, Ryan! Her sister’s birthdays? Not her birthday, or her mother’s birthday, but her sister’s? Anyone who knows anything about date formatting for coding in any computer language knows that there are dozens of possible variables for a single date, let alone a co-mingling of more than one which could easily boost that number up into the hundreds or even thousands. And then there is, let’s not forget, the lucky guess of the username too. Which pushes the odds even worse. And once he gets in, he doesn’t bother to write this information down, and no one else bothers to write down this crucial bit of information? Or, maybe Ryan doesn’t want anyone else to gain access to Teresa’s phone records and email so he pretends that he’s forgotten? It’s about as implausible that someone would fail to take this simple, obvious step as was for him to guess the username and password in the first place. And now I wonder how it was that the prosecution obtained this information? Did Ryan help them figure it out too, or was someone else able to get lucky? Did the phone company provide it? And what about her email, and social media (MySpace at the time)? What happened to those accounts? Did the prosecution ever both to seek to obtain those records from whoever her email provider was? Are her online accounts still active?
Buting: Ok…Let me ask you about the weekend of October 29th and 30th, the 29th being a Saturday. Did you see her or talk with her that day?
Hillegas: I don’t believe I talked with her on Saturday. Yeah, I don’t think so.
In episode 5 of Making a Murder, you see Ryan pretending to have difficulty remembering this. It’s not something anyone would forget or have trouble remembering if they were in a relationship with someone for five years. Once again, Ryan is not going to commit to anything he can at all avoid committing to, so we see qualifiers like, “I don’t believe”, or, “I don’t think so”.
Buting: OK, did you talk with her or see her on Sunday?
Ah, suddenly his memory is great! No qualifiers because he knows that Scott Bloedorn, at the very least, probably knew he’d been over. He can’t back out of this one…
Buting: And where was that
Hillegas: At her house
Buting: And how did that come about?
Hillegas: I had just stopped briefly…I think I was dropping something off for Scott and she was sitting there at her computer
“I think”, yet another qualifier. And more deliberate vagueness. The last time he says he sees his girlfriend of five years alive, he’s uncertain about why he went over, and doesn’t know what he was dropping off for Scott Bloedorn? Maybe it was a stack of missing posters?
Buting: So the last time you actually saw Teresa was Sunday?
Buting: Do you know about what time that was?
Hillegas: No. I don’t know
Of course not. Who would remember a detail as insignificant as the time of day you last saw your girlfriend of five years alive?
Buting: I mean we talking morning afternoon night?
Hillegas: I don’t know
This is the same guy who wants us to believe he magically guessed a username and password.
Buting: You don’t remember at all? [pause] Alright, by the time Calumt County investigators arrived, I take it you were pretty concerned about Teresa’s well-being, where she was
Buting: Did the police interview you and Scott together, or did they put you in separate rooms when they talked to you, or how did they do that?
Hillegas: Um…I believe we were, I believe we were in the same room
Buting: OK, did the police ever ask you for any kind of alibi for October 31st?
His memory springs back. No looking off into space, or pausing to come up with this answer. But seriously, Ryan, what was your alibi for October 31st, and for the next couple of days as well, so we can lay this to rest?
Buting: They never asked your whereabouts whatsoever?
Hillegas: I don’t believe so
Ryan uses another qualifier here, but his answer still comes quickly because he has no reason to lie about this.
Buting: OK, so it would be fair to say that you weren’t treated in any way like a suspect that you could tell?
Hillegas: That’s correct
This is easy to answer because Ryan wants everyone to think they way the police apparently did: there was simply no reason to suspect him despite being the boyfriend of five years, and being able to get into her phone records.
Buting: And even on the 5th and thereafter when the search narrowed into the Avery’s, the police actually let you through some checkpoints along with some other searchers, you leading them to come search the area, right?
With only about eleven minutes left in episode two, what sounds like a reporter asks Mike Halbach and Ryan Hillegas the same question, and they give totally different answers. Here are a couple of screen captures for you to see for yourself. And if you actually watch this scene play out, both Ryan and Mike seem nervous. There are eye blinks, hard swallowing, stuttering, stammering, Mike looking to Ryan for answers, and an overall defensive tone.
Ryan gives not one stammering, stuttering defensive denial
Ryan denies being on the Avery property
but two firm denials of the very thing that Jerey Buting just got him to admit
Both Ryan and Mike Halbach deny being on the Avery property
|blink, swallow, denial
Buting: The area around the property that they had made off-limits to the general public, right?
No trouble with the memory. I wish Jerry had asked him if he remembered what time of day it was when the search was conducted.
Kratz: Now with you being the coordinator of this citizen’s search effort on that Friday, that is after Teresa was reported missing, what efforts were being developed to try to find Teresa?
Hillegas: Friday night we had planned a road search, I guess you would call it, where everybody got in their vehicles and drove certain roads and maps that we had plotted out for them just to make sure we’d cover everything, but
Given how well everything was organized and planned, it’s very hard to believe that all of it took place between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Kratz: Maps of what?
Hillegas: Maps of county highways, um, out in the Manitowoc area near the Avery’s
Kratz: Let me ask you something Mr. Hillegas, why would you center, or why would you direct some of your search efforts around the Avery property?
Hillegas: Well, mostly for the fact that, you know, the media had covered so much of it, you know, all you’d heard about, you know, around the Avery property and…I believe by that point, we had known that, you know, her last kind of whereabouts was in that neck of the woods
Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?
Kratz: So even as an untrained law enforcement officer, you knew to look for the last place she was seen alive, is that right?
But he didn’t know that. It was Pam Sturm’s idea according to what Ryan says as we’ll see, not his, and that’s why it was at the end of the day, almost as an afterthought after almost everyone from the search party had left for the day.
Kratz: OK, Do you know Pam Sturm or her daughter Nikole Sturm?
Hillegas: I had met them Saturday morning. They showed up after the good majority of everybody else had left. But that was the first time I had met them.
Kratz: What did you and Pam Sturm discuss?
Hillegas: She just basically came right out and said, “Has anybody went to the car yard yet? You know, the Avery salvage yard.” And we just said no, that we hadn’t been sending anybody in there and she offered to and said she’d be willing to and…
Why wasn’t the last place Teresa was the seen the first place they looked then?
Kratz: Before Pam left then to travel to the Avery salvage yard, was she provided a map or any other information?
Hillegas: Yes. Yes, I gave her a map.
When did you make that map, and where did you find the information? Did you print it off your computer? How many copies did you print off (along with the missing posters)? Did you at any point need to run to an office supply store to get more ink?
Kratz: What other information was she provided, if you know?
Hillegas: Scott had borrowed her… his camera just in case they were to find something.
I keep wondering of what use a digital camera would have been?
Buting: You said that Scott had “borrowed” Pam Sturm a camera, is that right?
Buting: But you mean “lent.” Had lent her, given her a camera? Yes. A digital camera?
Buting: He didn’t give every one of those members Saturday morning a camera, did he?
Hillegas: He just gave it to Pam Sturm who he knew was gonna go out to the Avery salvage yard.
Hillegas: That’s correct.
Buting: That’s the only person he gave a camera to, right?
Did she ever take any pictures with it when she at last found the missing vehicle?