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.