If you have Netflix or spend any time at all on social media, you've probably heard of the real life documentary called "Making a Murderer." The series follows the arrest and subsequent release of a man, falsely accused of rape, named Steven Avery. In the documentary, we see a twist when a murder occurs in Steven Avery's town and he and his mentally challenged nephew, Brendan Dassey, are charged and convicted based on evidence that appears suspicious and possibly planted. This murder occurred just a day before Steven was set to receive a large settlement from the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department for the false arrest and nearly two-decade long incarceration.
The documentary has proven a public relations nightmare for the Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department.
Cue the tiny violins. When your sheriff and detectives knowingly bury evidence that would have exonerated a man, ignore all other potential leads and allow an innocent person to serve two decades in prison for a crime they did not commit, you have bigger problems than public perception. You have a festering, infected, cancerous subculture in your sheriff's department. The public has a right to be furious. How can anyone feel safe when those who are tasked to uphold the law are knowingly and willingly breaking it themselves?
The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel compiled a representative sample of emails that were sent over two months following the documentary. Here are a sample, as provided to USA Today and republished on JSOnline:
"Saw your show on Netflix! Manitowoc County is now officially on the map for having the most corrupt (law enforcement officers) in the nation, congrats. I used to think of cranes when I heard the name Manitowoc, not anymore."
"I had recently fell into a large sum of money and was thinking of moving to your county, but after what I saw concerning your department’s cover-up and framing Steven Avery and his nephew, I was seriously taken aback. There is NO WAY I will move there, your state prosecutor is a snake, your judges are corrupt and the ease in which you framed those two innocent men, well your cover-up has just reaffirmed my mistrust in the judicial system and police. Nice job!"
Not sure if Manitowac would be where I would move if I became rich, but I like the thought.
"I know you keep defending your crime mob department saying that people don’t know all the facts and by discrediting the documentary, but whether he is guilty or not, how in the hell do you and your mobsters sleep at night? … Your office might be the most corrupt organization in North America now that El Chapo has been captured. You and your department are the very reason that great officers and departments throughout our country are losing respect and trust from the American people."
This one I can get on board with. They do keep alluding to the public not "knowing" all the facts, but they refuse to provide those facts to us?
"May God forgive the morally corrupt officers who participated in this case. Whether Steven Avery or Brendan Dassey are innocent or guilty they sure got railroaded by the indecent actions of your department. I truly wonder about the way justice is meted out in Wisconsin and Manitowoc County in particular."
No, the corrupt cops do not deserve forgiveness. They deserve to be charged and prosecuted for violating the laws they vowed to uphold.
"As the father of a Down syndrome age 16 daughter, I know how easy it is to manipulate a mentally challenged person by promising what they want at a precise moment. Regardless of guilt or innocence, what your office did to manipulate that young man’s testimony in the Avery case was repulsive and I would suspect unconstitutional. That will be determined in federal court, I hope … Hopefully you run a more honest and transparent ship than did the prior sheriff."
This is a valid point. For those that watched the documentary, one of the hardest set of scenes were where the detectives and Dassey's own court appointed attorney clearly conspired to plant false memories in order to garner a coerced confession. They knew he was mentally challenged and jumped on it. Absolutely disgusting.
"Tell me please, what has Steve Avery done to this community that he deserved to be set up for a murder? All evidence points towards the incompetence of your department … I hope and pray your department and local police and that judge are found out, and YOU rot in jail. You are unbelievable. What did that man ever do to you people? Why him? Why?"
It was clear from the first few minutes that the entire law enforcement of Manitowac County clearly had it in for the Avery family. It is unclear why, but there is deep history and that family had a mark on their back from the start.
"I just wanted to reach out with disgust at how your department handled the Steven Avery case. The facts are obvious that your department had something to do with this and a cover-up looks to be very clear. Your department has lost all credibility and right now is in the media because of your inability to prove justice … One day it will come out that James Lenk and Andrew Colborn planted evidence in this case that lead (sic) to Steven’s arrest. What will your department come out and say then? You better hope you have a good PR team handy."
This was a fairly common view for all viewers, that Lenk and Colburn had something to do with this From the planted key that showed up DAYS later to the lack of blood in the bedroom and garage.
"The actions towards the Avery family by the Manitowac (sic) Sheriff’s Department are among the most deplorable examples I have seen of pure evilness in human society … I hope you are aware that a growing portion of this country, if not this planet, is under the opinion that your department is corrupt and a great shame to the American people, our government and our Constitution."
Not an uncommon view.
"You should be ashamed of yourself and the crooked department you run. The injustice that Steven Avery experienced during the murder trial of Teresa Halbach is INSANE! Your department is a JOKE. Your entire county is FILLED with white trash idiots and you have the audacity to bully and pick on him all this after falsely imprisoning him for 18 of his prime years of his life. God Bless his mother and father who have had to live through this … I would NEVER EVER visit your town in fear that if I were to run a stop sign, you would have me arrested on a murder charge. Shame on you."
That about sums it up.
Now the county board feels differently and stands fully behind the corrupt Sheriff's Department Manitowoc County Board Chairman, Jim Brey, sent an email out in December encouraging the town to stand behind law enforcement because they are being bullied and their feelings are all hurt.
Maybe stop breaking the laws you are tasked with enforcing and people won't be so angry?