Tag Archive | making a murderer

It Happens In Batches

I know, most of you would rather read about my orange hair (which has settled into a meh shade of light brown now), my adventures with air conditioning, or big old bullet holes in my house. Tough. I follow several cases, and report on a few from time to time. Reporting is a lot different than speculating, though, or ranting. Sometimes that needs to be done here. Not to mention, I’ve got some editors that don’t always feel the cases I follow and report on are always relevant. Relevant is a buzz word they use to tell me I need to crank out an article on Trump, Putin, or the ever popular reality t.v. subculture. Some days I can do it. Some days, I get the same meh feeling as I have about my hair at the moment. Today is one of those days. By rights, I should write this as an article on BN, which is where I do my Avery/Dassey coverage, but, by rights they should have paid me on time, so…

Today, the word came down that the state has prevailed and the entire 7th circuit will review the appeal. While this isn’t exactly happy news, I’m hoping there is an actual method to their madness. This follows on the heals of the state appointing a special prosecutor on both Avery and Dassey’s cases. ***DISCLAIMER – Never EVER confuse my Google searches with a law degree. I don’t have one*** Having said that, I was concerned after doing a few googley-type things. I cannot figure out, for the life of me, why they would assign a special prosecutor to a case that is closed. Brendan’s case was at the federal level because of the habeas ruling. His state case was closed. The timing is definitely curious, but I don’t know what it could mean.

As far as the 7th circuit, I am hoping that they are doing this with an eye to setting a firm precedent on juvenile interrogations and confessions. As far as I can tell there really isn’t one. Which is disturbing in and of itself. I truly don’t want to believe that enough judges feel the habeas ruling was incorrect. That would spell disaster for any type of precedence-setting we hope to see. I would like to see Brendan Dassey prevail.  I can’t even begin to speculate what the 7th circuit will decide. I can’t even speculate for the reason they are granting the en banc review. All I can do is what I have been doing, which is researching the case, reporting or blogging, and hoping to make a little bit of a difference in the world.  Let’s hope the next batch of news out of these cases are good news.

I can only wind up with orange hair so many times to keep you amused, after all.



Guilt or Innocence Aside, What about Due Process?

Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey have been in the global spotlight since the release of the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer. A little over 10 years ago, their spotlight was much smaller, and focused with laser intensity. Everyone in Calumet and Manitowoc counties knew their names, and thanks to a couple of questionable press conferences from then special prosecutor Ken Kratz, everyone was 100% certain of their guilt. Why should they doubt it? This respected prosecutor virtually said so, complete with sordid details of a horrific crime. This was reinforced with ill-timed press conferences with Dassey defense attorney Len Kachinski basically proclaiming his own client’s guilt. It wasn’t until Making a Murderer was released that people began to see that the narrative didn’t exactly match up with the physical evidence. People began to question, perhaps for the first time, if the men incarcerated for the horrific murder of photographer Teresa Halbach were actually guilty. Both men were going through the process of appealing their guilty verdicts, with little to no success. Things had continued quietly in the background from the time of the first verdict, with little press attention, and certainly without the world watching. The world is watching now.

To say the deck was stacked against the two men would be an understatement. It was not only stacked against them, it was braced with rebar and coated in a concrete shell. Those ill advised press conferences given by not only Ken Kratz and Len Kachinsky, but also Calumet county Sheriff Jerry Pagel have come back to haunt this case time and time again. Millions of people have watched and dissected each and every televised appearance, casting those men in a decidedly unfavorable light. While the press conferences by Kratz and Kachinsky guaranteed that the jury pool was tainted and removed any hope for an impartial jury to be seated, it is a press conference by retired Sheriff Pagel that is going to cause a lot of problems now. Problems for the prosecution, though, not the defense. People all over the world have been asking why it was Manitowoc officers that found so much of the evidence, when Pagel publicly stated that they would only be used in a support capacity. Was he lying? Or was the county that was supposed to be heading up this investigation just that oblivious to what was going on around their crime scene? Neither option looks good. It should have been a lesson learned the hard way, but it wasn’t.

Ken Kratz still makes public appearances, peddling his book , and loudly and vociferously proclaiming he was right to anyone who will listen. His fiancee, who must have been about 15 at the time of the original trial, has made a Twitter career of doing the same. Len Kachinsky still gives interviews trying to affirm his former clients guilt, while simultaneously trying to make himself appear to be the victim of an unjust system. And then there is Michael Griesbach, who has authored a pro-guilt book about the case, and most recently has penned an op-ed piece attempting to do damage control from the previous press conferences and still sway the public opinion towards guilt. His way of doing this is nowhere near as graphic and sweaty as Ken Kratz’ was, but is actually more disturbing on a fundamental level. He ridicules Avery’s post-conviction counsel, Kathleen Zellner in a shallow and obvious way, claiming she seeks two things she already has; fame and fortune. He takes potshots at Making a Murderer filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi for daring to profit from making the film, and flaunting it by buying a house. While petulant in tone, these are no cause for actual concern.

What is cause for concern though, is his repeated public apologies to the Halbach family for these men appealing their convictions. He makes it sound as if they have found a way to circumvent the system strictly to add pain and grief to the Halbach family. Surely he doesn’t mean to imply that these men are not entitled to due process, as afforded to every citizen of the United States. He can’t possibly mean to imply that both the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution are actually not worth the paper they are printed on? It is Due Process and it is 100% guaranteed to these men, regardless of guilt or innocence. It is their right, under the laws governing our country, to be able to appeal their respective verdicts. What’s more, the Halbach family should have been told at the time of the original convictions to expect this to happen. Ongoing public apologies here are only for grandstanding in an attempt to continue to sway public opinion. What happened to the Halbach family is something most people will never have to face. Apologies cannot make it any better, no matter how heartfelt and sincere. Insincere apologies by rote are a slap in the face, and more vile than any fantasy Kratz could author. It seems that if Manitowoc et al were as certain of the convictions as they claim to be, they would say nothing at all, letting the facts speak for themselves, privately keeping the Halbach family abreast of the ongoing procedural volleys and what to expect. They don’t seem to know, or care, that the more they talk, the less believable they become. Perhaps radio silence while they dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s would be better. That way, if they missed something, some vital clue that could lead them to the real killer(s), they’d be one step ahead of the game when these convictions are vacated. The Halbach family has the deepest sympathy of the world for their loss, and for the failure of the system that has yet to find and convict whomever was responsible. The murder of Teresa Halbach has been lost amid the vanities and egos of lesser men who cannot understand that they are not gods.

So, who killed Sister Cathy?

Netflix is becoming an expert at putting out thought-provoking documentaries on crime, and they’ve roped me in once again. I’m still slogging through all of the evidence from Making a Murderer, and what happens? Netflix releases another one, The Keepers. Where Making a Murderer is fraught with voracious claims of guilt and innocence, depending on who you believe, The Keepers has no confirmed bad guy for the actual killing of Sister Cathy. Not to say there is no bad guy overall. Father Joseph Maskell certainly fits the bad guy role throughout the series. He’s that guy you’re going to love to hate. As much as I would love to say he probably killed Sister Cathy, the sad, simple truth is that he most likely did not. I can’t say he didn’t set the wheels in motion. In fact, I think he did just that, whether he actually knew it at the time or not. And he certainly used it to his advantage to control Jane Doe (Jean Hargadon Wehner).  So let’s start at the beginning, and the beginning is not with Sister Cathy’s death. The beginning goes back much farther than that.

For Jane Doe (JHW), the beginning was the first time she went to confession at Archbishop of Keough High School, and encountered Father Magnus.  I’m still researching Father Magnus, but he would have his own beginning. Then there is Father Maskell’s beginning, which could be from 1957 when he entered  St. Mary Seminary School, or it could go all the way back into his childhood.  Lastly, there are the beginnings for everyone involved in what can only be called a pedophile ring. Most of these are shadow figures, comprised of other priests, brothers, police and others. I don’t think anyone really knows how large the ring was, or how high up in both church and government it went. That is ultimately the root of the problem, and what caused the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik. My personal belief at this time is that if it had only been Father Maskell and Father Magnus, Sister Cathy would have prevailed in her attempt to protect these girls. It was the sheer number of men involved in this ring that cost her her life, in my opinion. Until we can uncover other key players involved in this ring, we won’t know who killed Sister Cathy.

And what about Joyce Malecki? Was she a red herring, killed to throw off the investigation of Sister Cathy’s murder? Was her murder related at all? She did know Father Maskell, after all. And as rampant as the abuse seems to have been, it is not inconceivable that she too knew something that was dangerous to the ring. It seems her murder has lost a lot of focus that it should have received. What strikes me about the investigation into her murder is that it was/is handled by the FBI, as she was found on federal land. So that would remove the local law enforcement from it entirely. I would think that this fact would make a pedophile ring nervous. It would be a lot easier to control the direction of an investigation at the local level, rather than the federal level.  So that lends itself to the idea that either her murder was unrelated to  that of Sister Cathy or that whoever murdered her knew how to beat the system. The FBI has not released any records as yet, but it didn’t stop me from requesting them. And I’ll request them again and again, if for no other reason than to reassure myself that the reach of pedophile central based out of the Holy Roman Catholic Church could not reach that far. To think otherwise is a scary thought. I would prefer my government not answer to a single religion or church. I’m picky like that.

Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not trying to solve these crimes. I’m just not qualified to do that. What I am qualified to do is dig, research, ask hard questions, and evaluate what I learn. I’m qualified to tell you all about it. I’m qualified to let these survivors know they are not alone, they themselves did nothing wrong, and they are not forgotten.  And that is all I am trying to do here.