If you’ve watched Making a Murderer on Netflix you know all about Steven Avery and the crazy whirlwind of a life he’s had in and out of the criminal justice system. If you haven’t watched the show yet, don’t read this article until you have but please come back because I need your help figuring some things out.
One major sticking point with viewers of the documentary is the timeline in which Steven Avery would have had to commit this crime. For the sake of argument, I’m going to disregard the rape story and stick solely to the “facts” as they are presented by the prosecution. I must admit, I’ve scanned a few court papers so if I say something you didn’t see in the series, it may be from there.
Yesterday I wrote about the plot holes surrounding the Halloween murder. If this were a work of fiction we’d all be talking about how unbelievable the story is instead of binge watching 10 hours of depressing television. The biggest plot hole, for me, is simply how Steven Avery was able to commit this crime and cover his tracks, in some cases effectively and in some cases less effectively, in the short window of time he was afforded. Let’s look at the timeline (if I miss anything, let me know and I will edit this post to reflect your input).
Halbach arrives at the Avery Salvage Yard. This time is actually probably later but it is the time she told her boss she would arrive. I say it’s probably later because she spent about 20 minutes at each of her previous clients before arriving at the Avery yard but was spotted taking pictures here an hour later.
1530 – 1600
A propane delivery man says he saw the Rav leave the Avery property while he was filling up his tank at a nearby station. He says that he usually fills up at 3:30 and it takes a half an hour.
Brendan arrives at the Avery property from school on the school bus. There are other times floated around by Steven Avery’s brother in law and nephew that place Halbach on the property, taking photos, earlier but the bus driver should be considered the trusted source on this because it is her job to be at certain locations at the same time five days a week. Why she took notice of a photographer on a junk yard is not clear but if she says she dropped Brendan off at 1540, it’s probably pretty accurate.
Assuming this is a more correct time than Halbach gave her boss it would line up with the propane delivery man as well as Avery’s statement that Halbach was on the property for 10 minutes.
This, according to Cingulair Wireless, is the final activity from Halbach’s phone. Perhaps someone can clarify for me what that means. Is it the last text or outgoing call or is it the last time the phone pinged a cell tower (and every Serial fan knows how reliable those can be).
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is the exact moment Steven Avery destroyed her phone. That means that in 41 minutes, Halbach finished her work, filled out a bill of sale which Steve Avery took back to his office, and then the crime was committed all without so much noise that Brendan was taken away from his Playstation 2.
This, I’m sure, is plenty of time to kill somebody but it seems incredibly rushed.
Steven Avery calls Halbach’s cell phone without using the caller id block that he’d used earlier in the day when she was late for their appointment. If this strikes you as odd, you’re not alone. Avery is not the smartest person in Wisconsin by any stretch and to think that he’d destroy the phone and then call it 14 minutes later to establish an alibi is a little weak. I would assume, based on nothing factual, that if he had destroyed the phone it was an attempt to destroy a phone record and that he knew about as much as anyone else in 2005 did about cell pinging and all that jazz.
So why did he call? That’s probably the most puzzling part of this whole scenario. Maybe Halbach was out taking pictures of the car, dropped her phone causing the battery to fall out (at 1621), and at 1635 realized she had lost it and asked Steve to call it in hopes that she’d hear the ring and find it.
It could also be a pocket dial because she was the last number he’d called on that phone. We’ll never know exactly why.
Steven chats with his girlfriend who is in jail for 15 minutes. Because this is a call between a prisoner and a civilian it is recorded and not only does Steve sound calm and collected, maybe a little flirtatious, but he also sounds stationary and indoors. Why do I bring this up? Because at some point after he murdered Halbach he would have had to take the 10 mile drive to the first location the body was burned in.
Assuming he’s traveling at an average of 35 miles per hour, it should take him six or seven minutes to reach the first burn site. Factor in the six or seven minutes to drive back home and he is left with 43 minutes to set up the body, start a fire hot enough to burn the body, remove the bones from the fire, and load them back into his car.
This is when Steven calls Brendan over for a bonfire. An hour and 15 minutes have passed since he hung up with his girlfriend. I know I said I was going to disregard anything that came out of Brendan’s “confession” but this was corroborated by his mother who told him he had to be home by a certain time.
They spend two hours driving around the lot looking for things to throw in the fire. It is easy to say that this is a significant window of time to further dispose of the body but we have to remember that at this point there are several people on the property who would see Steve disposing of a body.
Again Avery talks with his girlfriend in prison and, again, it is a calm, normal conversation. At this point between five and five and half hours have passed since his only real window to murder Halbach. Having murdered and destroyed a body in that time frame, one would expect him to sound tired or disoriented but he sounds just as he ever does. By this point most of the people that live on the property are at home and none of them report any strange activity from this point forward.
It’s also important to note that much of the family, including Steven Avery, left the next day to go to a cabin 100 miles away from the salvage yard so not only did Steve have to commit this crime and dispose of the body within very short windows, he also had to clean the crime scene so well that not a single drop of blood, sweat, hair, skin, saliva, fingernail or any other bit of DNA was ever found linking Halbach to that property.
In fact, the assumption that Halbach was killed on October 31 probably relies solely on the fact that her cellphone activity stopped on that day. There is absolutely no concrete evidence beyond that cell phone record that would indicate a time or date of death and this timeline would have Avery moving faster than we ever see him move in the documentary.
If you just look at the time period around 1540, it seems like a perfectly normal transaction. Somewhere between 1530 and 1600 someone sees Halbach taking pictures, Avery says she stayed for ten minutes and the propane man see a Rav (driver not identified) leave the property).
Of course, if it is supposedly Steven Avery driving the Rav off the property he is probably doing so with a living victim to make the timeline work out and, it is safe to assume, if the propane man is close enough to notice the car he also would have heard the gunshots preceding seeing the car and mentioned that to police.
Like I said in yesterday’s post and on our forum, I’m not saying he’s innocent or guilty but something isn’t adding up.