The documentary “Making A Murderer” frequently references that the Avery family was very unpopular in Manitowoc County, but claims it is because they were poor. This claim in itself is odd, as Manitowoc County is not a wealthy area and the family actually owned a successful family business and large parcels of land in both Manitowoc County and Crivitz. However, there were many reasons other than their financial status for police and locals not to like the Averys. Below is a list of the currently available information regarding Steven Avery’s family members. Keep in mind that none of this information proves that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are guilty of murdering Teresa Halbach. It simply explains the documentary’s claims that the Avery family was unpopular in the community and known to law enforcement.
Allan and Dolores Avery, Steven’s parents, had three sons and a daughter. Allan operated the family salvage business while Dolores raised the children.
Chuck Avery, the oldest son, was charged with second-degree sexual assault in 1988. He was acquitted of the charge. In 1998, he was charged with disorderly conduct and served 30 days in jail. He pleaded no contest to third degree sexual assault in 1999 for raping and attempting to strangle his wife, and pleaded guilty to bail jumping that same year. Also in 1999, he pleaded guilty to violating a domestic abuse injunction, entering his wife's home, taking the phone from her, and blocking her from leaving. The couple agreed to defer judgment pending further violence by Chuck. The charge was dismissed in 2003, as the couple had divorced. Chuck was accused of harassing and stalking a number of women, including customers of the Avery Salvage Yard.
Earl Avery, the youngest of the three boys, pleaded no contest to battery after beating and choking his wife during an argument. He served 10 days in jail and 18 months probation. In 1995, he was charged with and pleaded no contest to fourth degree sexual assault and battery of his two daughters, serving 45 days in jail and three years probation. Earl Avery was also charged in 2011 of videotaping children and adults as they changed in the bathroom during a pool party. His wife, Candy, found the tapes and turned them into the police. Earl admitted to the charges and was sentenced to six months in jail and probation. A restraining order due to domestic abuse was also filed against him that year. In 2013, he was found guilty of driving while intoxicated and fined.
Barbara Janda, the Avery’s only daughter, was arrested and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of marijuana in 2005.
Jodi Stachowski, Steven Avery’s fiance, was serving a prison sentence at the time of his arrest for Teresa Halbach’s murder. She had been convicted on May 9, 2005 of her fifth DWI offense, and driving with a revoked license. She has been convicted of writing bad checks, failure to report to jail, disorderly conduct, and bail jumping. In 2015, she was found guilty of driving on a suspended license once more.
Lori Dassey (nee Mathiesen), Steven’s first wife, is now married to Peter Dassey, Brendan Dassey’s father. She divorced Steven while he was in prison for the rape he did not commit, and he alleged she sent him letters while in prison threatening to kill herself and their children. She had charges filed of felony rent assistance fraud, but the result of those charges is unclear. In 2000, she was found guilty of driving with a suspended license and driving while intoxicated. In 2001, she was once again found guilty of driving with a suspended license.
It should be stressed that none of these charges are indicative of Steven Avery or Brendan Dassey's guilt. They are merely an explanation of the documentary's frequent claims that the Avery family was unpopular in Manitowoc County, and familiar with law enforcement.