Before the investigation
On Thursday 3 November 2005 Karen Halbach called Calumet County Sheriff’s Department (CASO) to report her daughter as missing. That same evening Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department (MTSO) was called by CASO and their aid was requested as one of the victim's contacts for that day, someone only known to them as "B. Janda" at that time lived in an area that fell under their jurisdiction.
It was decided that the missing person's three appointments for that day: Steven Schmitz, George Zipperer and "B. Janda" had to be checked. Because B. Janda resided on Avery’s Auto Salvage, a cop named Andrew Colborn said he was acquaintances with Chuck and Earl Avery and he volunteered to meet Chuck.
Colborn arrived at the Avery salvage yard, parked his car near Chuck's residence, but as he stepped out of his vehicle he was intercepted by Steven Avery before he could meet with Chuck. Steven asked Colborn why he was there. Colborn explained a female photographer had gone missing and was looking for information on her last whereabouts. Steven replied he only "saw her out his window" and he "never talked to her". He also explained "B. Janda" would be his sister Barbara Janda, who lived next door to him. According to Steven Avery the photographer had left.
The next morning two MTSO officers, Lieutenant James Lenk and Dave Remiker were requested by CASO co-lead investigator Mark Wiegert to try and obtain Steven Avery's consent to do a quick search of his trailer to look for any obvious signs of the missing person. They knocked on both Steven's and his sister's door but neither answered. They were leaving the Avery property when in the distance they saw a golf cart approaching. Steven and his mother, Delores, were on it.
Remiker explained to Steven that they were looking to find information about a female photographer who had been reported missing. According to Remiker, Steven looked very surprised. It felt to Remiker as if this was the first time Steven actually heard of the photographer's disappearance. Steven explained to Lenk and Remiker that the missing person had come over, took photos of the red van and he then took her inside his trailer where he paid her and she gave him an AutoTrader issue. She then left. Steven gave consent to search his trailer, which the two officers did for about 5 minutes and then left.Silly enough, Steven, being a felon, actually let the investigators search his residence with a .22 caliber rifle and a .50 caliber rifle hanging in plain view on a gunrack in his bedroom. In Wisconsin a felon is not allowed to possess a firearm.
Later that Friday a relative of the missing person, David Beach, visited the Avery property. He described going into some sort of garage building where there were two people, of which one he later recognized to be Steven Avery. He asked Steven about the missing photographer and Steven confirmed she had been at the salvage yard on Monday. Steven said he took her to behind the garage where she took photos of a vehicle. She then left.
On Saturday 5 November two volunteer searchers, Pam and Nikole Sturm entered the salvage yard to look for anything that might help in their search for their relative, the missing photographer Teresa Halbach. While most of the Avery's were in Crivitz during the weekend, Steven's brother Earl remained at the yard. Pam and Nikole asked Earl permission to search the yard and he granted them permission. He made a comment about the road being muddy, which arguably triggered Pam to head up and search the berm first, where, after about 30 minutes of searching, she found a Toyota RAV4 vehicle.The Toyota RAV4 was covered with branches and the weels were covered with wooden plates. She called CASO and was transferred to sheriff Jerry Pagel who then summoned investigators to the Avery salvage yard.
End of the missing person case; start of the homicide case
The investigation of Steven Avery began when the victim's car was found on his property. After Pamela Sturm's phone call the Calumet County officers were summoned to the Avery’s Auto Salvage property.
At 11:35 hours Detective Anthony O’Neill of Marinette County Sheriff’s Department received a phone call requesting his assistance in the investigation regarding a missing person from Calumet County. O’Neill was called by his colleague Mike Sievert, who in his turn had been called by John Dedering of Calumet County.
Sheriff Pagel called the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (the DCI), a division of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and requested their aid. The DCI is commonly requested to provide assistance. The DCI sent Special Agent Tom Fassbender, who arrived at the scene about 14:25 hours with another Special Agent.
At the scene, Fassbender met with sheriff Pagel, who informed him that Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department had requested that Calumet would take the lead in this investigation.
At 15:50 hours Robert and Julie Cramer, dog handlers with Great Lakes Search & Rescue arrived on the scene with their cadaver dog K9 Brutus. At the same time, Trooper Timothy Austin and others of the Wisconsin State Patrol arrived on the scene.
At 17:12 hours MTSO Sergeant Andrew Colborn arrived.
Day 2 of the investigation
On Sunday 6 November investigation continued. DCI Special Agent Kim Skorlinski and Marinette County Sheriff's Department investigator Anthony O’Neill interviewed Steven Avery about the past couple of days, particularly Monday 31 October.