Details Matter. Timelines are Critical.

*Spoiler Alert* There might be details below that could be considered “spoilers” for Part 2 of Netflix “Making a Murderer.” So if you are sensitive to hearing any information at all about the show, stop now.

“The most important evidence in the case is the sequencing of who was doing what when.” –Zellner

To me, the most noteworthy element of Part 2 of “Making a Murderer” was that it wasn't the fancy forensic testing, but rather, Kathleen Zellner's attention to detail that poked the biggest hole in the prosecution’s case against Steven Avery. Without getting into too much of the minutia, suffice it to say that Zellner utilized overlooked evidence (including pre-trial witness testimony and cell tower data) to reconstruct the “official” timeline. What she found is that the difference of just a few minutes in the timeline was enough to undermine the prosecution's theory by calling into question who the last person was to see Teresa Halbach alive and introducing two additional suspects in the case. Regardless of whether or not Zellner's theory is correct, the fact that it could be illustrates how critical the difference of a few minutes can be on a relatively tight timeline.

What does this have to do with Maura Murray? Maura disappeared between 7:27 PM and 7:46 PM (a 19 minute window). If we believe Officer Cecil Smith was in the police SUV reportedly seen by Witness A between approximately 7:35 PM – 7:37 PM, then we have to believe that not just one or two, but that ALL of the following statements are true:

  • Witness A was driving at least 65 MPH the entire trip (on a windy stretch of road where the speed limit is 35 MPH for most of the way) OR her cell phone records are inaccurate;

  • Butch Atwood’s call to 911 (at 7:42 PM) was placed while police were already on scene (and had been for 5-7 minutes);

  • Butch Atwood’s statements about police arriving 7-9 minutes after he placed that call were incorrect;

  • The report of Officer Smith having been at Haverhill Police station (a 17 minute drive) is incorrect;

  • Officer Smith either misremembered or lied about the route he took to the scene (north on Route 10, to Swiftwater Rd. to Sawyer Hill Rd. to Route 112) and it just so happened to be a coincidence that the route corresponds to reports that place him at the Haverhill Police station when dispatched;

  • The police dispatch log showing Officer Smith’s arrival time of 7:46 PM is incorrect;

  • The official police report, in which Officer Smith reports arriving at the scene at 7:45 PM, is inaccurate.

  • Officer Smith broke standard protocol by waiting approximately 10 minutes to radio back his arrival OR dispatchers inexplicably delayed their input for approximately 10 minutes.

The reality is that all available evidence suggests that the police’s timeline is inexplicably “off” by 9-11 minutes. To people that are not bothered by this discrepancy, and unfazed by the notable inconsistencies in Cecil Smith’s interview transcript, it probably seems like I’m droning on about the timeline for no reason. But another point that Zellner made on the Netflix show is that “cases always fit – when you find out what the truth is – it all fits.” So if I drone on about the timeline, it’s because it is clearly evident that something does not fit. And one need not be a conspiracy theorist in order to acknowledge that the police’s timeline does not fit, recognize that the discrepancy happens to occur within the 19 minute window that Maura disappeared, and have reasonable questions about whether those two facts might just be related.