Eight years after Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were convicted in the brutal murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, a new Netflix series has thousands asking: Are the right men in prison? Subscribe now for shocking new details about the controversial conviction, only in PEOPLE!
For many, Making a Murderer is a riveting series about the criminal justice system. But for Teresa Halbach’s family, the Netflix show rubs salt in wounds that will never heal.
“It’s terrible,” Teresa’s aunt, Kay Giordana, tells PEOPLE, saying the series is re-traumatizing the Halbach family. “I can’t believe this came out. It is really unfortunate.”
Adds Teresa’s cousin-in-law, Jeremy Fournier: “It is so very one-sided . It seems like there are some shenanigans by the police in there from what I hear and read about, and I can see where people are getting their opinion, but they are only getting one side of the story.”
Teresa’s family is convinced that law enforcement has the right man. Carol Stumpf, another of Teresa’s aunts, poses a rhetorical question for Steven Avery, who declined his turn on the witness stand: “If you really are innocent, why didn’t you take the stand and tell your story?”
The 10-part series suggests that investigators framed Avery – who was given a life sentence with no chance of parole – for Halbach’s murder in retaliation for a $36 million lawsuit he filed against Manitowoc County and authorities.
For her part, Giordana is shocked by viewers’ reactions to the show. “I was very upset, but I know the right people know the truth, “she says. “It is not even close to what really happened. Everybody has their own side of a story. That is the Avery family’s side of the story. I wouldn t expect it to be different. They think he is innocent. I am not surprised. I am surprised that someone would put that together in that way and have it [be] one-sided.”
Giordana adds: “He is 100 percent guilty. No doubt about it.” (The Making a Murderer filmmakers reached out to the Haibach family, who declined to participate in the docu-series.)
• For more on Steven Avery and Making a Murderer pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Teresa’s Aunts Remember the Last Day They Saw Her
On Oct. 30, 2005, the day before she went missing, Teresa spent the afternoon with family members at her grandparent’s house celebrating her grandfather’s 71st birthday.
“She came in and she was laughing and smiling,” Giordana says. “She was always in a good mood.”
Stumpf recalls that during the birthday celebration her 25-year-old niece fussed over her grandmother’s back problems. “She was wishing her grandpa, ‘Happy Birthday,’ and asking her grandma to get better soon,” says Stumpf. “That’s the last time I saw her.”
Teresa’s charred bones were found 12 days later in a fire pit behind Avery’s trailer.
“If people want to think he is innocent there is nothing I can do about it, but I know that God knows what happened and that is what really matters to me, as long as he never gets an opportunity to hurt anybody else,” says Giordana.
She adds: “I would never want anyone ever to go through this.”