Netflix’s docuseries Making a Murderer has led to a lawsuit by Andrew Colborn, the detective behind the true events of this crime. The series, which premiered on Netflix back in December 2015, details the murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach in 2005. Teresa was a photographer who was allegedly killed by Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, but the series presents facts to the contrary, examining whether or not the two were framed.
The Making a Murderer series helped make Netflix a destination for non-fiction drama and won four Emmys for its creators Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi. However, it also upended the life of Colborn and his family in the process. His wife, Barb, and his adult children have suffered because of the show’s relentless ploys to garner viewership, according to Colborn. “Barb and I … have always strived to lead a quiet and private life,” Colborn explained, adding that the series “destroyed that for both of us and for our family. … I live in a state of constant vigilance very similar to combat or constantly being on duty as a law enforcement officer.”
The second season of Making a Murderer premiered back in October and traced the efforts of Avery and Dassey’s new attorney in overturning their conviction. This led to an outcry on social media against Colborn, with such posts stating “Colborn Lies! Proof!” For this reason, Colborn decided to sue Netflix for omitting and distorting information against him and in favor of Avery and Dassey. Colborn claimed that he was portrayed as corrupt, with suggestions that he planted evidence on the two convicts.
In an email response to the Hollywood Reporter, Colborn detailed just how far the docuseries has destroyed his life. He claimed to have received horrific threats by viewers such as being kidnapped and his wife being gang raped, causing him and his wife to not travel or even eat out. He added that they have compiled 28 CDs full of recorded threats by callers.
Colborn isn’t alone in his lawsuit against such true crime documentaries. The family of JonBenet Ramsey won a lawsuit against CBS earlier this month concerning the 2016 documentary The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey. In it, the show claimed that JonBenet’s brother, who would have been 9 at the time, had fatally wounded her with a flashlight, also alleging that their parents had covered it all up. In addition, Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway, also sued Oxygen for intentional emotional distress in their true crime miniseries The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway. She claimed that although the producers knew the DNA samples found were from animal bones, they claimed they were the remains of her daughter. L. Lin Wood, an attorney from the firm of both Ramsey and Holloway parties, spoke about the harm these true crimes can incur on those involved. “The folks doing these true-crime series need to adhere to the first word: true,” Wood stated. “If they want to suggest conclusions or make accusations, then they better damn well be sure they’ve got facts, not exaggerations.”
Michael Griesbach, Colborn’s attorney, also spoke against these true crime shows and how detrimental they can be. “The film industry is callously using people as pawns to make a point and to garner public interest to sell their product,” Griesbach stated. “A cottage industry of conspiracy theorists has been spawned that has turned lives upside down. My client is the main target, but there are others, including several members of the public now widely considered murder suspects or accomplices in the framing of an innocent man. Who’s falsely accusing who now?”
Concerning the show, Wood shared that “It was clear to me that this show was produced with an agenda to convey that Avery had been falsely accused. These series are about conveying information in a way that makes them entertaining and drives ratings and profits. Quote unquote true-crime series should not be accepted by the viewing public as factually accurate. They should be viewed with a jaundiced eye.”