A Curse Or A Blessing?
Jerry Buting, defense lawyer for Steven Avery has a new book out, Illusion of Justice, and he mentions the name of Ryan Hillegas quite prominently. Here is an excerpt from the book:
Perhaps the most important early witness from our perspective was Teresa Halbach’s former boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, who led the search party that formed during the first days after her disappearance. Although they were no longer romantic partners, Hillegas testified, they spoke in person or by phone about once a week. In fact, Teresa had been living with Hillegas’s best friend, Scott Bloedorn. That most murder victims, especially female, are killed by people they know well does not seem to have ever crossed the investigative radar in Teresa’s murder. From the outset, investigators had their eyes on one suspect only, Steven Avery, and our efforts to suggest other suspects had been denied by Judge Willis. I tried to highlight this law enforcement bias in my cross-examination of Hillegas.
Q. Did the police ever ask you for any kind of alibi for October 31?
Q. They never asked your whereabouts whatsoever?
A. I don’t believe so.
Q. Okay. Anybody, point blank, ever ask you if you had any knowledge about her disappearance or were involved in it?
A. I don’t know if they did it like that, like they were accusing me but, of course, people asked me if I had talked to her or knew anything. And that’s why I was there to help.
Q. Okay. And to your knowledge, did you ever hear the police ever ask Mr. Scott Bloedorn if he had an alibi for Monday, October 31, in the evening, late afternoon hours?
A. I don’t know that.
Q. So it would be fair to say that you weren’t in anyway treated like a suspect, hat you could tell?
A. That’s correct.
There is a reason other than incompetence that Ryan was never treated like a suspect. Karen Halbach is the person who reported Teresa missing on November 3, 2005. Cpl. Leslie Lemieux arrived at her house just after 5:00 pm., and not long after Lemieux’s arrival, Ms Halbach informed her that Teresa had a roommate, Scott Bloedorn. Soon after this, Cpl. Lemieux calls Scott, asks him a few questions, and then goes over to the apartment he had been sharing with Teresa. Karen and Tom Halbach make the trip as well.
Because everyone knows that when a young, attractive woman is met with foul play, it is most often the boyfriend or ex boyfriend who is the culprit, investigators Wiegert and Lemieux asked about this almost straight away. Per Lemieux’s report:
I notified Inv. WEIGERT of the CALUMET CO. SHERIFF’S DEPT. of the situation. Inv. WIEGERT and I responded to TERESA’s residence and spoke with TERESA’s roommate, SCOTT, and her parents. They said that TERESA did not have a current boyfriend or any recent ex-boyfriend.
Wiegert wrote up his own, separate report of the encounter that corroborates Lemieux’s report but also includes a key detail that Lemieux’s report did not:
They said that TERESA did not have a current boyfriend or any recent ex-boyfriend … SCOTT allowed us to enter the residence and showed us TERESA’s room. SCOTT and several of their mutual friends had located TERESA’s most recent cell phone activity report on her computer. They printed a copy for us…[emphasis mine]
Well, we know from his court testimony that it was none other than Ryan Hillegas who printed off that copy after he miraculously guessed her password(s) and username(s) so that must mean that he was there at this time!
The reason why this is interesting is that when Weigert and Lemieux asked about whether Teresa was currently involved, or had been recently, Ryan Hillegas heard the question, but never adds anything to what Scott Bloedorn and Karen Halbach tell them about her romantic status. You would think, if he wasn’t hiding something, he would have said, “Well, officers, I had been involved with Teresa some time ago, but we’ve been nothing but good friends for the last several years..” something like that. It is also clear by the reports that as Weigert and Lemieux go about their law enforcement duties within the house, they do not themselves, as members of that community, personally know Ryan Hillegas or his past involvement with Teresa Halbach. They see him at Teresa’s house, but they view him as just one of the many concerned friends who stopped over to offer assistance, and see no reason to single him out for questioning for any reason. I believe there would have been a very different outcome if either Weigert of Lemieux had learned at that time that Teresa and Ryan had been romantically involved for five years through high school and college.
But about what happened during this encounter, there is more food for thought. Namely, why did Karen Halbach and Scott Bloedorn answer Lemieux’s question about Teresa’s romantic life so literally? There is no doubt that they were both aware that Teresa and Ryan had been deeply romantically involved at one point. Scott Bloedorn has been described as Ryan’s best friend, or, at least a very good one. Since Ryan Hillegas replaced Teresa’s tenancy after her murder in now Scott’s apartment, there is every reason to suppose they were close. In fact, they had both at one time been Teresa’s sexual partner so shared this in common. If Ryan still had strong, if unrequited feelings for Teresa, wouldn’t Scott know about this? If Ryan was still calling Teresa several times a week, and stopping by her house to visit her or, perhaps Scott too, wouldn’t it have been impossible for Ryan to hide his feelings? In fact, wouldn’t he have confided in Scott about his feelings? And isn’t it just as likely that Teresa’s mother would also know the extent of Ryan’s feelings??
So a reasonable person might suppose that both Scott Bloedorn and Karen Halbach were deliberately shielding Ryan Hillegas from closer scrutiny. But was that to spare Ryan the inconvenience that surely would have accompanied closer scrutiny because they themselves thought it was inconceivable that Ryan would have had anything to do with Teresa’s disappearance? I have a bit of a problem with that logic. What inconvenience was there to spare if they both thought he couldn’t have done it?
Remember that haunting video that Teresa made where she wanted everyone to know that if she died she wanted everyone to know she was a happy person? It makes me wonder whether she was in good health at the time of her death. It looks like she was, but you never know.
Why mention this? Let’s say one were to expire shortly before their shortly anticipated death (by unexpected means). Is it possible that their demise, and the means by which they met it, (especially if it were less prolonged and cruel than what was anticipated), seem more a blessing than a curse? I’ll admit that this is HIGHLY speculative, but there are parts to this that I still can’t figure out.
I have mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again even though I know I’ll take criticism for it. It seems like there is something off about the Halbach family’s response to the media attention that Making A Murderer has brought to their daughter’s tragic death. No one in the immediate family has had much of anything to say other than the view that the documentary was one sided. The one state that I can find that the family made was given to CBS News before the Netflix documentary even came out:
Halbach’s family did not respond to our request for comment, but before the series was released, they issued a statement saying they were saddened people were creating entertainment and trying to profit from their loss.
We all know, however, that there was a time when the family wasn’t so quiet. I doubt that the family would deny that, at the behest of Ken Kratz—no slouch himself at using the media to shape a particular narrative, (if his outrageous press conference announcing Brendan Dassey’s involvement in Teresa Halbach’s murder is anything to go by)— they didn’t miss a single opportunity to trot a very young Mike Halbach out to take his place before news cameras to condemn Steven Avery in no uncertain terms during his trial.