Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Teresa Halbach

Teresa

Teresa Halbach
Teresa Halbach

Sometime during the day on October 31, 2005, photographer Teresa Halbach, 25, drove her blue 1999 Toyota Rav 4 along Route 10 in eastern Wisconsin.  She had started out from her home in Hilbert and was heading east.  She had three appointments that day to photograph used vehicles for the Auto Trader Magazine.  One of those appointments was at Avery Auto Salvage in Gibson, Wisconsin, near Lake Michigan, about 35 miles from her home.  She was scheduled to meet with Steven Avery, 43, one of the owners, and photograph a maroon Plymouth Voyager minivan that he was putting up for sale.  She'd been there at least fifteen times before, taking pictures of other vehicles for the magazine.

Teresa had graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2002 where she graduated with honors, majoring in photography.  While she was in school, she had worked part-time at a mall photography studio, taking portraits of children.  In her senior year she'd worked as an intern at Pearce Photography in Green Bay, and after graduation Pearce hired her full-time.  She specialized in doing sittings with kids.  Teresa had a gift for making people feel comfortable—children and adults—and it showed in the portraits she took.

Photography by Teresa
Photography by Teresa

She liked children so much she coached the girls volleyball team at the St. John-Sacred Heart School, the parochial elementary school where her little sister was a student.  Teresa had attended Sacred Heart herself. 

The second of five children, Teresa had grown up in the tiny farm community of St. John in Calumet County, Wisconsin.  Her parents ran a dairy farm, and she had often helped out with farm chores, particularly milking the cows.  She had been living in the Green Bay area while working at Pearce, but she decided to pursue her dream of opening her own studio, which she called Photography by Teresa.  Making the switch from a regular paycheck to irregular freelance income was a big transition, so to help make ends meet, she had moved back to St. John where she and a friend rented a house on her parent's property.  The rent was more than reasonable. 

Teresa most likely had the radio on as she drove along Route 10 on October 31, and she liked singing along with it.   Since it was Halloween, the rock stations were probably playing old novelty songs like "The Monster Mash" and "Haunted House."  Teresa would sing along with just about anything, and she absolutely loved karaoke.  Whenever she took the stage with a microphone, she became the life of the party, especially when she was singing her favorite song, "Picture," made famous by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock.  It's a catchy country ballad and a twangy tearjerker.  If the radio station she'd been listening to had played that song, Teresa would have been singing along with it as she headed for Avery Auto Salvage.

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