Teresa Halbach’s RAV4 Front Left Blinker

When Teresa Halbach’s Toyota RAV4 was officially found on November 5th, 2005, the left blinker (“indicator” for those who speak a variant of American English) was found in her vehicle’s rearward compartment.  This comes up in Zellner’s motion.  Ryan Hillegas made a statement about the blinker, stating that he had confirmed with friends and family that it had been dislodged from its socket months before it was found on the Avery salvage yard. This is Zellner’s exact statement in the motion:

Individual B misrepresented that the blinker light was broken months before and that she had made an insurance claim for it. Wisconsin DOJ DCI Report, December 14, 2005, attached and incorporated herein as Exhibit H, STATE 1144.

We know with a certainty that Individual B is Ryan Hillegas because the contents of Exhibit H spell it out:

Hillegas did some checking with family and friends, and reported back to S/A Fassbender that Halbach had, in fact, damaged the parking light area of her car and actually made an insurance claim. Hillegas advised that she took a cash payout for the claim and had not repaired it.”

So, this presents a few problems to my way of thinking.  I’m not sure how it can be known that Ryan Hillegas was misrepresenting that the blinker had been broken months before and that an insurance claim was made on it.  According to the text in the motion, he is merely relaying information that he received from “friends and family”.  Unless Zellner was somehow able to confirm the veracity of the statements made by Hillegas with these very friends and family members–something that seems highly unlikely–how can we be certain that Ryan is “misrepresenting”?  We also have to wonder whether it is possible that Teresa might have told her parents what her parents told Ryan even if that is at variance with what insurance records show.

Many questions come to mind immediately.  For example, is it known for a certain fact that Teresa’s auto insurance policy was in good standing at the time of her death, and for the sake of thoroughness, continuously for three or four months leading up to it?  Did her insurance policy cover this kind of damage?  Since a ticket for a broken or missing blinker can be just as expensive as replacing the blinker, I would imagine only a cash desperate person would take the cash payout over replacing a damaged part.  A look at her finances might shed some light on this.  How much was it in 2005 to replace a broken blinker on a 1999 Toyota RAV4?

I could go even further and speculate whether Teresa might have asked Steven Avery to have a look.  She’d been to the property so, so many times before, as everyone acknowledges.  Might he have needed to pop the hood of Teresa’s RAV4 to obtain the necessary leverage?  A front blinker assembly is obviously one of the things that people go to salvage yards to find all the time.

About the blinker itself, just judging by the evidentiary photographs, it really looks like it could easily be snapped right back into place.  It’s obviously damaged, but it also looks like it might even still work as a functioning blinker.  Surely a long shot, but I wonder if anyone has ever tested this?  If it does still work, I can’t think of any good reason why Teresa would have kept it in the back of the RAV4, since, as mentioned, to do so would be to risk an expensive ticket.  I hope this is something that Zellner will be testing.

Were any prints or DNA found on the blinker?  Was it tested?  Was the location around the area of the vehicle where the blinker was supposed to fit tested?  Will Zellner also be testing here? Again, I sincerely hope so.

What I can’t figure out is why the blinker is out of it s socket in the first place.  If, as Zellner claims, the RAV4 was moved from Radant’s quarry to the Avery property under cover of darkness on a moonless night, this nocturnal journey obviously would have been done with the headlights doused.  Might this have been when the damage occurred?  If the entire fixture had fallen out onto the ground, it would have been of paramount importance for the killer and or framers to collect it and put it back inside the RAV4 as neglecting this detail would have given up the whole game.  The vehicle and one of its parts found in two separate, yet nearby locations would have been rather telling, especially combined with the fact a shin bone had already been found in the burn pit behind Avery’s trailer, and quite apart from part of a hip bone found at Radant’s quarry.

What does seem odd, I confess, is that the blinker popped out at all.  What kind of force might would cause a blinker to pop out?  It seems unlikely that the vehicle could have been traveling very fast during the drive from quarry to the salvage as that would necessarily have been a slow and cautions meander through ways both dark and muddy. If a collision had taken place, wouldn’t that have smashed, rather than dislocated the blinker? Frankly, if I had to say, the part looks like it’s been pulled, and it’s very difficult for me to understand why there would have been any reason for the killer to have decided to pull a part if it was still fastened in to any degree.

On the other hand, if Ryan Hillegas had represented what had actually happened at some point, namely that Teresa really had had an accident at some point before she was killed, maybe the blinker had been damaged just enough so that it didn’t fit into its socket properly any longer.  If there is anything to this version of events, I can believe that it might have popped out during a bumpy ride.  I hope that this too might someday be tested by someone.  Below are two photographs, one of the front of the RAV4, the other of the blinker as it was found in the rear.

Front of Teresa Halbach's 1999 Toyota RAV4 showing missing socket where blinker should be

 

Teresa's blinker in rear of RAV4

Teresa’s blinker in rear of RAV4

5 comments

  • i don’t think they will find any prints on it, when you would think that the person who drove the car on the avery property used most likely gloves.

  • About the blinker itself, just judging by the evidentiary photographs, it really looks like it could easily be snapped right back into place.

    This is not correct. I will tell you why. The blinker assembly is fixed to the bumper assembly. The bumper assembly is the entire black portion of the front of the RAV. The blinker assembly is completely broken, the fastener tabs are torn away, the fastener tabs are connected to the bumper assembly. In the photographs you can see a portion of the white running light lens still attached to the bumper assembly….. but more importantly in the first photograph we see that the fender (which is metal on a RAV4 is also dented just above the bumper assembly…. this dent is fresh because the primer under the paint is showing and has not yet oxidized by the Wisconsin elements yet…. this is crucial for it indicates the “accident is quite fresh”

    The long short of it is that repairing this type of damage does not come cheap. I would estimate this to cost in the $2500 dollar range to fix. New front bumper assembly, new blinker assembly, pull dent or replace front fender damage and repaint front fender to match existing Toyota color…. auto body shops usually feather the fender into the door panel to sustain continuity of the paint job. I forgot to mention that the driver side wheel well was missing its engine compartment shield, as evidenced in the WSCL photographs. Teresa would never have taken a “cash” payout for this type of damage. If she did, there would be a record of such from the Insurer….. CARFAX would have it on record. The blinker assembly is important because Teresa would not have been able to drive around very long in the state of Wisconsin with a broken turn signal assembly without incurring a moving violation…. police in the Wiss love to pull over folks with this type of violation, it usually leads to a DUI, since the Wiss ranks 4th in DUI related crimes in the US. Fun fact.

    In closing the damage to the RAV is consistent IMO with it coming into contact with a solid object about waist high. Possibly being squeezed through a tight fitting area (like between two junked cars in the lower portion of the ASY) …….or a glancing blow against something hard in the pitch darkness of the ASY……. either way it happened much more recently than Ryan claimed it to have….. IMO it happened on the night of the 4th of November.

  • or maybe it was rolling around back there when the killer needed to put the body in the back for a quick transport..assuming the killer would move her to the burn barrel after the deed was done. just a quick theory that popped in my head. would love to hear feedback

    -and daniel, its good to be back. im glad to see you are still up and running, cheers mate!

  • One of the things that I find most interesting is that the blinker wasn’t just placed in the rear cargo of the RAV. Rather, it is wedged underneath the back seats, which themselves seem to be lifted up from where they should nest. Why would the back seats need to be lifted up? Was the blinker in the cargo area loose, if you will, and then for some reason, the killer needed to boost those seats up and slid the blinker under them to hold them up? Perhaps the killer was looking for something that may have slid, or he suspected had slid, under the rear seats? What other reason could explain why the blinker is not only in the cargo area, but wedged under the back seats like it is?