We Need To Remember Teresa Halbach's Family & The Pain They're Undoubtedly Suffering
Judging by workplace chatter, my Facebook feed, and one of the most active Reddit pages I've ever seen, it's safe to say that Netflix's docuseries Making a Murderer has captivated viewers everywhere. I certainly don't think this is a bad thing; the series sheds light on a complex case that, until now, received very little national attention. It challenges us, as viewers, to think about the flaws in our justice system — because, regardless of whether Steven Avery is guilty of murder, the system most definitely failed him when he was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1985. But as we theorize and speculate about Avery and Brendan Dassey's convictions, I think we need to remember Teresa Halbach's family, too, and be respectful of their plight.
As seen in Making a Murderer, the Halbach family firmly believes that Teresa's killers are behind bars. However, they made the completely understandable decision to not take part in the series, and thus it's hard for viewers to fully get their side of the story. Filmmaker Laura Ricciardi told Vulture,
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.
Unfortunately, this has left the Halbach family in a difficult place now that Making a Murderer is being watched by millions of people — many of whom sympathize with Avery. Although it hasn't been explicitly stated why the Halbachs chose not to participate, it's likely that it would have been too painful, potentially prolonging and intensifying their suffering. After all, this docuseries was filmed over the course of a decade. But they were essentially left in a no-win situation, because their side of the story isn't presented in Making a Murderer. Meanwhile, the filmmakers had unfettered access to the Avery family, and the series has undeniably generated public sympathy for them, which has to be both difficult and infuriating for the Halbach family.
In a statement published by ABC News 18 prior to the release of the series, the Halbach family's message was clear and concise:
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.
This is a convoluted, complicated case and it's human nature to be intrigued and to play "armchair detective." But unfortunately, when you haven't been directly affected by a tragedy, it's easy to forget that it's about real victims with real families that have been left with a void that can never be filled. The Halbachs seem to be pained by the fact that Teresa's death is being consumed as "entertainment," and that is 100 percent understandable. They have to live each and every day with the horror of the tragedy, and now they're looking at the possibility of sitting through new hearings for Avery and Dassey.
I'm not saying that we all shouldn't be looking at the state's case with a critical eye — just that as we do so, it's important to remember that the ultimate victim in this tragedy is Teresa Halbach. As for her family, they're watching as hoards of people rally to the defense of the men they believe took her life. Many people are watching Making a Murderer for entertainment, but Teresa's murder is an excruciating reality that her family lives with every day.
Images: Netflix (2)