After Netflix dropped true crime docu-series "Making A Murderer" in December 2015, the internet exploded with debates over convicted murderer Steven Avery's innocence and theories about who really killed photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005. The enthusiasm made sense: While the series didn't exactly prove Avery wasn't guilty, it did offer plenty of evidence that the investigation was badly mangled. But while internet detectives pored over the court case and made Justice For Steven Avery Facebook groups, the primary victim in the case, Teresa Halbach, was relegated to the sidelines. So what does the Halbach family think about the show that's made a star of the man convicted of her murder?
Well, for starters, the Halbach family declined to speak to Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, the filmmakers behind "Making A Murderer" for both Part 1 and Part 2. In an interview with Vulture while discussing Part 1, Ricciardi explained, "We invited the Halbach family to participate in the film, and we had coffee with Mike Halbach, the official spokesperson for the family, to discuss the idea, but they decided not to participate. So we filmed Mike at all the press conferences that he held, but that was the extent of our interaction with him." It's the same story for Part 2: In a review of the second season, Vulture notes, "The end of each episode highlights an extensive list of all those who were asked to speak on camera and decided against it, including several with the last name Halbach."
Just because the Halbach family hasn't spoken to the filmmakers doesn't mean they haven't spoken to the press. Before Part One aired, the Halbach family released this statement:
"Having just passed the 10-year anniversary of the death of our daughter and sister, Teresa, we are saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profit from our loss. We continue to hope that the story of Teresa’s life brings goodness to the world.”
Other family members were more candid about their reaction to the show. In an interview with People, Teresa's aunt Kay Giordana said, “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.” She added, “I was very upset, but I know the right people know the truth. It is not even close to what really happened. Everybody has their own side of a story. That is the Avery family’s side of the story. I wouldn't expect it to be different. They think he is innocent. I am not surprised. I am surprised that someone would put that together in that way and have it [be] one-sided.”
Giordana insisted she thinks he is "100 percent guilty."
Another one of her aunts, Carol Stumpf, told People she agrees he's guilty. "If you really are innocent, why didn’t you take the stand and tell your story?” was her rhetorical question for Avery. Meanwhile, cousin-in-law Jeremy Fournier elaborated: “It is so very one-sided. It seems like there are some shenanigans by the police in there from what I hear and read about, and I can see where people are getting their opinion, but they are only getting one side of the story."
Many locals in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, also confirmed that despite the documentary's popularity, they believed in Avery's guilt. “We lived through this 10 years ago,” Manitowoc Area Visitor and Convention Bureau president Jason Ring told The New York Times in 2016. “We made our judgment, and the trial came to an end, and locally most people were in support of that." Resident Suszanne Fox told the Times: “Look, we lived this whole thing like a juror. He was guilty as sin.”
Though the second season has debuted on Netflix and renewed interest in the story, the Halbach family has decided to stay quiet this time around it seems. Although none of the family participated in the second season, some friends of Teresa's have spoken up. One of Teresa's college friends, Chris Nerat, spoke to Ricciardi and Demos for the second season. Nerat told People he participated to bring Teresa's memory to the forefront. “I spoke because I thought that Teresa needed someone to speak."
"If they killed her, they should be in jail, no question,” he says of Avery and Dassey. “But as far as justice for Teresa, that all went out the window in my opinion. The justice doesn’t really matter; the murder matters."
He's not the only one focusing on Halbach's death more than Avery's imprisonment in Season 2. The filmmakers go to a charity race for the Halbach family, where one runner, Emily Gutowski, insists, “There’s a whole world that’s looking at the wrong side of the story."
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