Ryan Hillegas is the ex-boyfriend of the late Teresa Halbach, the woman Steven Avery was convicted of raping and murdering in 2007. Did the police and courts get it right? This Ryan Hillegas wiki looks at the evidence and whether the right person is behind bars.
The 10-part Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, which premiered on December 18, 2015, brought to international attention the horrific events of October 31, 2005: the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach.
The show also provided compelling evidence to suggest that Steven Avery, the man ultimately convicted of her murder, was framed by police and that his conviction was pursued by an overly aggressive prosecution. Since the show premiered, many have speculated on, if the show’s premise is true, who really killed Teresa Halbach.
Making a Murderer: Part 2 tries to answer that question. Launched on Netflix on October 19, 2018, the show examines the case and allegations of police misconduct. It also follows celebrity trial attorney Kathleen Zellner, a fierce lawyer known for winning impossible cases through the post-conviction process.
Zellner has one theory about who killed Teresa Halbach: her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas.
Who Is Ryan Hillegas?
Ryan Hillegas is remembered by the public because he dated Teresa Halbach. For the most part, the life of Ryan Hillegas has been pretty uneventful.
Hillegas and Halbach were in and out of each other’s lives over a five-year period. They first started seeing each other in high school, when they both lived in the small farming village of Hilbert, Wisconsin.
Their relationship was far from idyllic, though. Which might be why it was off-and-on for so long.
After graduating from Hilbert High School in 1998, Halbach went to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she studied photography. Hillegas attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
In her senior year of college, Teresa Halbach worked as an intern for Pearce Photography in Green Bay. She told Thomas Pearce that she had been in a physically and verbally abusive relationship. Halbach never explicitly told Pearce that it was Hillegas, but it is known that the two were seeing each other at this time.
In 2002, Halbach graduated summa cum laude from college, with a degree in photography. Ryan Hillegas graduated three years later, in 2005.
While Halbach and Hillegas continued to see each other, they were not romantically linked when she was murdered in 2005. And perhaps that is why some are fingering Hillegas as her likely murderer.
Was Hillegas Jealous Halbach Had Moved on with Her Life?
It is alleged that Ryan Hillegas was more than a little obsessed with Teresa Halbach and jealous that she had moved on with her life. Halbach emailed Ryan Hillegas to inform him that she was no longer interested in him. She had, in her own words, told him she’d moved on.
In fact, Halbach was in a sexual relationship with her housemate Scott Bloedorn in the months leading up to her death. This may have angered Hillegas immensely—Hillegas and Bloedorn were best friends.
Ryan Hillegas is also thought to have harbored deep-seated jealously over the fact that Halbach had started taking nude pictures of both men and women. Not only that, but she had reportedly started a sexual relationship with one of her clients, a then-married man by the name of Bradley Czech.
Even though their relationship ended long before Teresa was murdered, the pair remained in contact; he even sent her a text on October 31, 2005.
October 31, 2005 –Teresa Halbach Murdered
On October 31, 2005, 25-year-old Teresa Halbach disappeared. It has been alleged that the last place she was seen was on Steven Avery’s rural property, taking pictures of a vehicle he wanted posted for sale on AutoTrader.
Find out more about the victim: Teresa Halbach Wiki: Must-Know Facts about the “Making a Murderer” Victim
The Search for Teresa Halbach
In the days following the disappearance of Halbach, family, friends, and strangers handed out missing-person flyers and searched for her. But they could not find her.
On November 5, Pam Sturm, a second cousin of Teresa Halbach’s father, and her daughter Nikole decided to take another look for the missing young woman on the Avery property. It only took Pam half an hour to find Halbach’s dark-green Toyota RAV4 hidden under branches, with the license plate removed.
Pam Sturm called the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department and, through the VIN, was able to confirm with police that it was Halbach’s car.
Later that day, Ryan Hillegas and Mike Halbach, Teresa’s brother, were interviewed by local media about the discovery.
Ryan Hillegas struggled to answer the most remedial questions. The two of them looked at each other for help in answering questions. As the interview progresses, the two seemed to play off of each other, completing each other’s sentences.
It was an awkward and, for some, revealing interview, with Hillegas asserting he had never been on Avery’s property. A clumsy Mike Halbach echoes Hillegas’ sentiment, saying it was a member of their search party that found the SUV and that he, too, had never been on the property.
Ryan Hillegas Never Considered a Suspect
In most cases like this one, the people closest to the victim are often looked at and cleared of any wrongdoing. But in the Halbach case, police failed to interview anyone close to her or who had a history with her. For some reason, they never once suspected that Teresa Halbach was murdered by someone she knew.
Hillegas even admitted that the sheriff’s department never really interviewed him or asked him for an alibi for the night his ex-girlfriend was murdered.
Instead, investigators honed in on, and eventually arrested, Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey for the murder of Teresa Halbach. In March 2007, Steven Avery was convicted of murdering Halbach and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Dassey was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, rape, and mutilating a corpse. He was sentenced to life and will be eligible for parole in 2048.
Despite the guilty verdicts, many believe that Steven Avery was railroaded by the police, investigators, and prosecutors. And that the real murderer is walking free.
Kathleen Zellner, Feared Attorney, Watched “Making a Murderer”
Tens of millions of Americans who watched Making a Murderer were outraged at what they believed was a rigged investigation and trial. One important viewer shared that sentiment: Kathleen Zellner.
Zellner, one of the most successful trial attorneys in America, watched the Netflix show and was outraged.
“When I watched the Avery case, I felt that the attitude toward him by the prosecutors and the state was that he was disposable. It was almost like a class thing. [His family] didn’t matter, they had no power,” Zellner said. “The longer I watched it, the more angry I got.”
Not one to just sit back and watch a miscarriage of justice, Zellner announced in January 2016 that she and Tricia Bushnell, legal director of the Midwest Innocence Project, were representing Steven Avery.
It didn’t take long for Zellner to suggest who she thought the real murderer was. In January 2016, in a now-deleted tweet, Zellner teased, “whoever deleted Teresa Halbach(‘s) cellphone calls is either the murderer or part of (the) coverup. Either way the killer is free.”
Those who have watched Making a Murderer know that Zellner was focusing her steely glaze on Ryan Hillegas.
Get to know Avery’s new lawyer: Kathleen Zellner Wiki: Steven Avery’s Best Chance at Freedom
June 7, 2017 – Zellner Files Motion, Knows Who Real Killer Is
On June 7, 2017, Zellner filed a 1,250-page motion at the Manitowoc County Courthouse, stating that she believes Ryan Hillegas is responsible for the grisly murder of Teresa Halbach. Zellner’s exhaustive motion for a new trial included sworn affidavits from 10 law enforcement, legal profession, medical, and scientific experts.
Avery’s lawyer requested a new trial for her client because she believes there is more than enough evidence to c