Since its release in late December, the Netflix original documentary Making a Murderer has become something of a global phenomenon. In case you’re unfamiliar, the 10-episode series centers on the life of Steven Avery, a man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. After DNA evidence eventually secured his release in 2005, Avery just three years later was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a woman named Teresa Hallbach. As anyone who has series can attest, the documentary is arguably the most addictive and riveting show Netflix has ever released.
If you haven’t yet seen the show, set aside a few hours and prepare for some of the most compelling an thought-provoking TV you’ve ever seen. If you have seen the show, you might naturally be wondering what everyone involved is up to now, nearly 9 years after both Avery and his then 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey were sentenced to prison for the murder of Teresa Hallbach.
So without further ado, below is a detailed run down highlighting what the case’s major players are up to today.
Arguably one of the more controversial figures in the show, Lieutenant James Lenk was accused by Avery’s defense team of planting evidence in an effort to frame Avery. Specifically, Lenk was accused of planting Hallbach’s key in Avery’s bedroom and planting an incriminating shell casing in Avery’s garage. Lenk of course disputed the charges while on the stand, but it’s hard to watch the series and not come away thinking that Lenk was engaged in some sort of questionable behavior throughout the duration of the Hallbach murder investigation.
As to what Lenk is up to these days, well, he’s now in his mid-60s and no longer works with the Manitowoc County Sherrif’s Department. It’s believed that he has since retired and is leading an extremely private life. As opposed to other individuals involved with the Avery case, Lenk hasn’t made any public statement since the documentary first aired. According to an email sent by Andrew Colborn, who we’ll get to soon enough, Lenk is “now a citizen in poor health trying to live a quiet life away from this media circus.”
One of the more sympathetic figures in the series (assuming that he’s innocent), Dassey was a developmentally challenged 16-year old who was seemingly manipulated by seasoned investigators into proffering what many believed was a false confession.
Convicted of first degree murder, mutilation and second-degree sexual assault Dassey, now in his mid-20s, remains locked up at the Green Bay Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in Wisconsin. As avid viewers of the documentary can attest, the mutilation and sexual assault charges levied against Avery went nowhere due to a lack of sufficient evidence, thus making Dassey’s conviction on those charges in a separate case all the more infuriating for those who believe he is innocent.
Dassey won’t be eligible for parole until he’s in his 50s. The most recent news we’ve seen about Dassey is that he received his GED while locked away.
The lead prosecutor in both the Steve Avery and Brendan Dassey murder trials, Kratz’s behavior throughout Avery’s trial was ethically questionable for a a variety of reasons.
Today, Kratz lives in Superior, Wisconsin where he, believe it or not, now works as a defense attorney. Interestingly, Krtaz’s Yelp page, which has been thrashed by negative reviews from angry viewers, now indicates that his firm is closed. It is unclear, however, if Kratz still continues to practice as his website still appears to be up and running. Update: Kratz is still practicing law and has said his business has dried up recently per the video below.
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In the wake of the documentary’s release, Kratz hasn’t been shy about speaking to the media. Not too long ago, Kratz told People that the documentary left out a number of key facts pointing to Avery’s guilt. He has since also spoken to Maxim and OnMilwaukee about key pieces of evidence that he claims weren’t included in the final version of the program.
Just a few days ago, Kratz sat down for a somewhat strange and surprisingly candid and at times funny interview with comedian Jena Friedman of The Gothamist. Friedman’s interview with Kratz can be viewed below and is well worth watching in its entirety.
Strang was one of Avery’s defense attorneys and is perhaps the most well-regarded individual to appear in the documentary. A talented orator, Strang made a number of eloquent and compelling arguments in an effort to showcase how Avery’s murder charge was clouded with reasonable doubt.
Since Avery’s conviction, Strang spent some time teaching at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and since 2013, has worked as a practicing attorney at the law firm StrangBradley located in Madison, Wisconsin.
As a personal aside, I think Strang delivered one of the most memorable lines of the documentary in this courtroom exchange:
Ken Kratz: But if we have to start this case swimming upstream, if you will, in the face of some instruction given to the jury that they should be taking some negative view of the state, then we intend to proceed on all six counts.
Dean Strang: All due respect to counsel, the state is supposed to start every criminal case ‘swimming upstream’. And the strong current against which the state is supposed to be swimming is the presumption of innocence. That presumption of innocence has been eroded—if not eliminated—here by the spectre of Brendan Dassey, and that’s why the court needs to take further curative action.
As for Strang’s current level of involvement with the Avery case, both he and Jerome Buting continue to be peripherally involved. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Strang explained:
We have been acting as informal advisers with Steven and his family for quite some time. Because we’ve become a clearinghouse of emails, tips, suggestions, including from scientists with ideas about new blood tests, we’ll be forwarding that on [to his new lawyer]. We will assist in any way we can to help Steven get a new trial.
The other half of Avery’s all-star defense team, Buting still practices criminal defense law in Wisconsin at the law firm Buting, Williams & Stilling
In case you missed it, both Srang and Buting recently appeared on CBS This Morning where the pair discussed the case and the documentary. One of the more notable moments of the interview, I thought, was when Strang was asked if he was convinced of Avery’s innocence. Strang, no stranger to thinking on his feet, promptly replied, “Well I’m certainly not convinced of his guilt.”
The full interview can be seen below.
For any fans of the show who can’t help but devour any information about the case they can find, make sure to check out Buting’s informative interview with Rolling Stone.
Another controversial figure from Making a Murderer, Colborn famously called in the license plate to Hallbach’s car before her vehicle was officially found. Not only that, but Colborn, along with James Lenk, were present when questionable items such as Hallbach’s keys were found in Avery’s trailer.
Not only that, but viewers might also remember that Colborn was the officer who, in 1995, received a call from another detective indicating that Avery may not have been responsible for the rape he was sent to prison for 10 years earlier. If Colborn and his superiors had treated the call with the seriousness they should have, Avery might have been released after 10 years in prison instead of 18.
Since Avery’s conviction, Colborn has been promoted and is now a lieutenant with the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office.
Steve Avery’s girlfriend at the time of his 2005 arrest, Stachowski recently gave a TV interview with HLN where she dropped a number of bombshells about Avery, including allegations that he abused her consistently for a period of two years and that he threatened her if she dared to bad-mouth him during the making of the documentary. Stachowski also made a point of mentioning that she thinks Avery is 100% guilty, though she did note that Avery did not admit to her that he killed Teresa Hallbach..
In one of the more disturbing moments of the interview, Stachowski said that she was so desperate to escape from Avery’s abusive ways that she once ate two boxes of rat poison just so that she could be taken to a hospital.
Stachowski’s full interview with HLN, if you haven’t yet seen it, can be viewed below.
According to Bustle, Stachowski has since moved out of Manitowoc though she still resides in Wisconsin. Of note is that Stachowski has had her fair share of legal troubles over the past few years, having been arrested and/or fined for a variety of offenses, including DWI, disorderly conduct, driving with a revoked license, and even passing around bad checks.
To say that Len Kachinsky, Brendan Dassey’s original attorney, did an absolutely horrible job of representing Dassey would be a gross understatement. Not only did Kachinsky allow Dassey be questioned by investigators without him or Dassey’s mother present, but Kachinsky also spoke to the media and publicly said that his client was both morally and legally responsible for Hallbach’s murder.
Today, Kachinsky is still practicing law in Wisconsin.
Since his conviction, Avery remains locked up with no possibility of parole. Currently, Avery is serving his time at the Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisconsin.
As for any chance that Avery might ever be released, he’s already exhausted all of his appeals, meaning that his only hope to ever see the light of day is if new evidence is discovered and brought to light. On that note, it’s worth noting that Avery has a new and well-known attorney named Kathleen Zellner. A private attorney, Zellner has a number of overturned wrongful convictions to her name.
Tadych is Brendan Dassey’s step father and was confident from the very beginning that Avery was guilty. According to information gleaned from Tadych’s Facebook page, he still resides in Wisconsin and is an avid hunter. His most recent Facebook post is a link to an online petition to free Brendan Dassey.
Judge Patrick Willis
Judge Patrick Willis was the presiding judge during the Avery trial. He appeared in the documentary quite a few times, mostly when he was rejecting various motions filed by Avery’s attorneys. Perhaps most prominently, Willis prevented Avery’s attorneys from presenting any evidence that would suggest there were other possible suspects who could have murdered Teresa Hallbach.
Willis was a judge in Manitowoc County Circuit Court up until October 2012 when he retired.
Teresa’s ex-boyfriend at the time of her murder, Hillegas is a registered nurse who currently works in Wisconsin.
Brendan’s brother, Bobby Dassey is now married with children and still lives in Wisconsin. Here’s what he looks like today.
As depicted in the documentary, Greenman dated Avery following his 2007 conviction. Interestingly, the two started dating even before they had ever met in person. While they were at one point engaged, Greenman has since stated that the engagement has since been called off, in part because Avery wouldn’t “adopt Christianity as his faith.” Nonetheless, Greenman says that she and Avery are still close and she still is adamant that he is completely innocent.
Teresa’s brother, Hallbach today currently holds a technology position within the Green Bay Packers organization.
Earl Avery, Steven’s brother, still lives in Manitowoc County.
Gregory Allen was the man who actually committed the 1985 rape Avery was convicted of. According to The Wrap, Allen is currently “serving a 60-year prison sentence for a 1995 sexual assault” and, believe it or not, is eligible for parole in October of 2016.
Not really featured in the documentary, Brad Dassey is another of Brendan’s brothers. Today, he’s a Christian rapper who recently put out a song about Brendan’s innocence.