Teresa Halbach is, unfortunately, the one person who often gets overlooked when discussing Steven Avery and the 10-part Netflix documentary Making a Murderer that premiered on December 18, 2015. The show chronicles the trials of Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey. The two men were convicted of killing Halbach in 2005, when she worked as a freelance photographer. While the story brought international attention to Teresa Halbach’s murder, most of it was focused on allegations of a police cover-up and whether the right people were in jail. What was missing was an understanding of who the victim was. This Teresa Halbach wiki looks at her short life, untimely death, and the aftermath of Making a Murderer.
Who Was Teresa Halbach?
Teresa Halbach was born on March 22, 1980 in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, to Karen and Richard Halbach. She had two sisters, Katie and Kelly, and two brothers, Tim and Mike.
Teresa spent her formative years on her parents’ 225-acre, 60-cow dairy farm. As a young girl, she was known to enjoy the outdoors and helping her parents take care of the animals.
When Teresa Halbach was eight, her father died. Her mother went on to marry his brother, Thomas, her former brother-in-law.
Teresa was a member of St. John-Sacred Heart Parish in St. John, and graduated from Hilbert High School in 1998.
Halbach, who was known for her love of karaoke, played the part of Ermengarde, a comically whiny character in Hello Dolly, in her senior year. She also had leading roles in The Music Man and Anything Goes in high school.
Debra Seidl, who directed Teresa Halbach in the school musicals at Hilbert High School, recalled that she was well-known and well-liked. When she walked through the halls with friends, she was always smiling and laughing.
Kelly Pitzen, a friend since preschool, remembered Teresa as being an energetic spontaneous person. “We were always up to something – hiking or swimming at High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago.”
Studied Photography at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
After high school, Halbach went to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she studied photography. When she started as a photographer on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s student newspaper, Fourth Estate, in fall 2001, she listed her life goal as becoming a photojournalist for National Geographic.
By the end of the year, though, she changed her outlook a little. On the graduate send-off page she said, “I just want to be financially comfortable, enjoy life and see the world.”
In her senior year of college, Halbach worked as an intern for Pearce Photography in Green Bay.
In 2002, she graduated from college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in photography.
Teresa Halbach Recorded a Video Diary for a Class Project
In a video diary recorded for a class project at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she was clearly asked to say what her loves are, Teresa Halbach got very candid. In the undated video, which appears to have been shot in her apartment, a relaxed Halbach looks into the camera and says she loves hugs, and believes everyone needs “nine hugs a day in order to feel loved.”
She goes on to list a number of things that she loves “being happy,” that she has lots of friends, and knows that she has “nothing to complain about.”
Teresa Halbach lists off more of her “loves,” including making people laugh, getting compliments, the Beatles, God, No Doubt, and Gwen Stefani. She then talks about one of her greatest passions, photography. “I love taking pictures. I love holding a camera in my hand.”
Perhaps a nod to her future desires and dreams, Halbach adds “I love kids, I love babies.”
A wandering free spirit, she continues saying that she loves to travel, and talking about her adventures.
Halbach opens up further in the video; she likes who she is and loves “being myself with everyone I know.”
She also discusses her family, “I love knowing that my family’s healthy.” Later in the video she says, “I love my sisters, my mom, my whole family of course.”
In a later part of the video diary, Teresa Halbach talks openly and honestly about her future. Relaxing on a sofa in her apartment, she confesses, “So let’s say I die before I’m 31. Let’s say I die tomorrow. I don’t think I will. I think I have a lot more to do.”
“I just want to know that whenever I do die, I just want people I love to know that whenever I die, that I was happy,” her voice trailing off. “That I’m happy with what I did with my life.”
“The only thing is if it happened now is that I wish I could have became a mother. Because that’s one thing I’ve always known that I want – to be a mom.”
Thoughtfully, Halbach looks into the camera, playing with her hands, “But there’s a reason for everything.” Adding, “And I will be a good mom one day. I will. As long as I’m happy.”
After these eerily prophetic statements, Teresa Halbach then ends the video.
Teresa Halbach Moved to Be Closer to Her Family
After graduating, Teresa Halbach took a job as a portrait photographer with Pearce Photography. She also started her own photography business, Photography by Teresa, which she operated out of the Pearce studio.
On her archived web site, Halbach said her goal was to “capture emotion in portraits, showing natural smiles and not that ‘posed’ look.”
In late 2004, Teresa Halbach decided she wanted to be closer to her family, so she rented a house owned by her parents next door to the farm. She commuted half an hour each way to work in Green Bay. In her spare time, she coached her sister Kelly’s grade seven volleyball team at St. John-Sacred Heart School in Sherwood.
Aside from photography, Halbach loved spending time with her family and friends. When she would sing karaoke, she loved to belt out “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock.
That doesn’t mean Halbach was a homebody; she was passionate about travelling. She visited Mexico with a friend, went to Spain for a month on her own, and traveled to New Zealand and Australia, where she learned to scuba dive.
But her true passion was photography. “Photography was her life,” said Ray Hillegas, Halbach’s ex-boyfriend. “She could do anything with a camera.”
Teresa Halbach Had Just Put in Her Notice at “Auto Trader”
To help supplement her income, Teresa Halbach got a job as a photographer with Auto Trader magazine. She drove her Toyota RAV4 to different locations to take shots of the vehicles that were being put up for sale.
Two weeks before Halbach disappeared, she put her notice in at Auto Trader. Photography by Halbach was getting more and more clients, and she was too busy to take on the extra work from the magazine. It has been alleged that Halbach told her clients, including the Averys, a property she visited at least 15 times before her rape and murder, that she was leaving Auto Trader.
At the time, Halbach told Auto Trader that she no longer wanted to go to the Avery property and take pictures. On a previous visit, Avery came to the door wearing just a towel. The young woman felt uncomfortable.
On the morning of October 31, 2005, the day Teresa Halbach disappeared, Steven Avery called the magazine and asked them “to send the girl who was out here before.” She didn’t want to go, but the magazine asked her to, as one last favor.
On October 31, 2005, 25-year-old Teresa Halbach disappeared.
Questions Remain about Her Last Known Whereabouts
There are some doubts about Halbach’s last known whereabouts.
At around 2:30 p.m., Halbach called Auto Trader before arriving at the Avery property to photograph Avery’s sister’s Plymouth Voyager.
She parked her RAV4 between Steven Avery’s trailer and the garage and knocked on his front door. According to Avery, she took pictures of the vehicle and then left.
That is open for debate.
She had another appointment that day, to take a picture of a vehicle a