Fox Hills Hotel
I still can’t believe how many people still think Brendan’s confessions weren’t coerced. It’s mind boggling. Here is a 16 year old kid who was interviewed alone by police on 3 separate occasions and it wasn’t until the 3rd one at the Fox Hills Hotel (which wasn’t recorded) in which his story changes because he was practically being told what to say.
Redditor Nexious does a great job breaking it all down and shows how often Brendan’s version of events change and how things were pretty much planted into his head.
Brendan was interviewed in isolation on three separate occasions on February 27, 2006:
- Mishicot High School (12:30 p.m. to 2:14 p.m.)
- Two Rivers Police Dept. (3:21 p.m. to 4:03 p.m.)
- Fox Hills Resort (10:50 p.m. to unknown time)
During the first two interviews on 02/27 with Wiegert and Fassbender, Brendan never said anything that would implicate direct involvement in Teresa’s murder; the details he spoke of all allegedly took place after Teresa had already been murdered and burned by Steven. Over the course of these interviews, Brendan’s story morphed drastically with regard to what he did witness that evening and what Steven had told him, thanks in no small part to continual police prompting and leading questions. The major and ever-changing claims made during these initial two interviews consisted of the following:
- Brendan went from seeing no body parts in the fire to progressively seeing more and more parts until he ultimately claimed to have seen toes, fingers, hands, feet, a torso, stomach and forehead. [F&W Prompts: “Did you see any body parts? …You know we found some flesh in that fire too… I’m looking at you Brendan and I know you saw something… I find it quite difficult to believe that if there was a body in that Brendan that you wouldn’t have seen something like a hand, or a foot, a head, hair, something. OK. We know you saw something. And maybe you’ve tried to block it out… You saw some body parts.“]
- Brendan told the woefully inaccurate tale of Steven allegedly confessing to have murdered Teresa in the gravel pit by tying her up with rope inside her RAV4 and then stabbing her to death. Steven then supposedly hid the knife under the seat of the RAV4 and transported her body from the gravel pit to the fire via a snowmobile sled. [F&W Prompts: “I can’t believe that he wouldn’t have told you how it happened and how did he kill her… I also heard that he told you how he did it, that’s true isn’t it?“
- Brendan made multiple different claims of how Steven cut his finger. He cut his finger on glass by the garage. He cut his finger on the knife that he used to kill Teresa. He cut his finger from Teresa’s fingernail scratching across it as they fought. (Brenden also erroneously said it was his index finger).
- Brendan explained that Teresa was wearing a blue button-up shirt when she was tied up and stabbed to death in the RAV4. Steven then threw the blood-stained blue shirt and pants into the fire. There was a hole in the blue shirt where Steven stabbed her. Brendan claimed these clothes were in a bag, but still identified them as being girl clothes. The blue-colored shirt description was repeated multiple times throughout both interviews.
Fox Hills Hotel – Arrival and Reasons
After the MHS interview concluded and before the TR interview began, Pagel was informed by Wiegert/Fassbender of the “knife under Halbach’s car seat” admission from Brendan. Tyson, Baldwin, Pagel and other officers acted on this information by examining the RAV4 in evidence storage but found no trace of any such item.
Immediately following the Two Rivers interview, Fassbender and Wiegert transported Brendan to the Mishicot Fire Station to meet with additional detectives including Sgt. Bill Tyson (who arrived at the station more than a half hour after the TH interview concluded, having just confirmed that no knife was inside the RAV4 unlike what Brendan described). Any conversations with Brendan that may have occurred at the fire station were not recorded or documented in any capacity.
Citing “safety” and “investigation integrity” reasons, Brendan, Blaine and Barb were escorted to Fox Hills Resort in the evening of 02/27 by Wiegert, with Tyson following close behind. Wiegert testified under oath that the primary reason for this hotel stay (funded by the county) was over safety concerns for the Dasseys–allegedly to prevent them from being harmed if others learned of Brendan’s newfound claims. One might question this “safety” explanation, considering they sent the Dasseys home the very next day and Dassey even went to school the following day, devoid of any protection at all.
Directly before giving the above-mentioned excuses for putting the family in a hotel, Wiegert offhandedly provided a more direct and believable reason for the stay. Since the previous interviews were the first that placed Brendan as a witness to the crime, “we decided that we needed to interview everybody else that lived on the property and we needed to do that right away to see what other people knew…we decided that we needed to conduct a lot of interviews.” Sgt. Bill Tyson likewise described in a written report that a police-guarded room was secured at Fox Hills Resort “until interviews could be completed by the investigators.”
Fox Hills Hotel – The Interviews
According to Attorney Fallon and Fassbender, both Barb and Brendan were interviewed at the hotel (presumably Blaine as well, given Wiegert’s claim of needing to interview the other Dasseys “right away” and him being present). These late-evening interviews not only involved Fassbender but also Tyson; questions were channeled by other investigators as well.
At some point prior to speaking with Brendan late that evening, Fassbender learned from Barb that Brendan had bleach-stained pants that he said got stained when helping Steven clean the garage floor Halloween night. At 10:50 p.m., after ordering a pizza for Brendan to enjoy, Fassbender privately interviewed him.This interview was unrecorded; Brendan was not read his Miranda rights.
Fassbender made at least the following points during his 10:50 p.m. interview with Brendan:
- Fassbender asked Brendan the circumstances surrounding the bleach stains on his pants.Brendan attributed those spots to helping Avery clean what he believed to be a dark red stain on the garage floor; Brendan felt these were oil stains (but could had also been other vehicle fluid stains such as red antifreeze). The rags used to clean up the stain had a red tint from the residue.
- Brendan explained that they used a mixture of gasoline, paint thinner and finally bleach to finish the clean-up of the spot on the floor.
- Brendan stated that the rags used to clean up the spot were then thrown into the fire pit behind Avery’s garage.
- Fassbender then asked Brendan if the substance they cleaned up “could have been” blood, to which Dassey said, for the first time, that yes it could had been blood. Fassbender continued with this line of questioning then asking “what do you think, to this date of February 27, the stain was” to which Brendan then stated he believed it to be blood.
- During this interview, Fassbender also asked about other items Steven removed from the garage such as clothes, a shovel and a rake.
- Fassbender further discussed to Brendan the possibility of bad smells coming from the fire as Teresa’s body burned [Brendan denied smelling anything unsual in the earlier interviews even after saying he saw body parts].
Several of these points are extremely significant in that they suddenly put Brendan in the garage as an accomplice to the alleged crime clean-up. For the first time, Brendan is marginally tied to the crime as more than a witness with a tangible item (his pants) along with the container of bleach they seized as evidence. As I’ll expand upon in the aftermath section, other points seem to have served as a ‘prep’ attempt for Brendan’s March 1st confession to correct some of the major deviances.
Sgt. Tyson also interviewed Brendan at the hotel with at least the following questions:
- Did Brendan see Avery’s burn barrel burning at all on October 31? No, Brendan did not recall seeing that.
- Did Brendan ever see Avery shoot a .22 caliber firearm? No, he had not.
Fox Hills Hotel – Impact and Aftermath
Despite such a crucial development at Fox Hills with Brendan describing the clean-up chemicals and his bleached pants for the first time, no recording or transcript of this interview exists (these guys had unprecedented trouble with tape recorders, apparently). So, it becomes impossible to determine for how long or in what manner Fassbender and Tyson grilled Brendan about these or other details. What is known for fact is that Fassbender was the one who first instilled the notion to Brendan that the stain “could have been blood.”
Recall that the stain tested negative for Teresa’s blood and no trace of her blood was found anywhere in the garage. Fassbender waited two days before picking up these bleach-stained jeans, and picked them up while driving Brendan to the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department. Brendan’s jeans had no blood on them; he stated that he didn’t get any blood on him despite the blood bath that went on in the bedroom and garage. Even Wiegert expressed disbelief that he wouldn’t have gotten even a drop of blood on his clothing: “She bleed a lot, (Brendan nods ‘yes’) so I know you had blood on ya, it’s pretty much impossible not to…”
The questions probed by Tyson in an equally undocumented fashion were also important as a precursor to the March 1 “tell-all” interview. Fassbender asks Brendan on March 1: “We talked last, er, Monday we talked a little about some things a burn barrel out front do you remember anything about that burn barrel? …you might wanna be a little more truthful about now.” During the two transcribed interviews from 02/27, only a single mention is ever made about any burn barrel by Fassbender and is not followed-up nor addressed by Brendan, Wiegert or Fassbender at all; there was no “being truthful about it” to ascertain in those interviews as a result.
As such, it can be inferred that Fassbender or Tyson expanded on this burn barrel topic during that late-night interview session to an unknown extent. The importance of this is that during the March 1 interrogation, Brendan eventually “confesses” to personally seeing the camera and phone in the burn barrel whereby the prosecution used that as proof he was part of the murder since it was supposedly something “only the killers would know.” (See my previous post about this burn barrel confession and why the prosecution claims were blatantly false).
The question about the .22 caliber is also imperative; this marks the first time they mention the specific gun by type and attribute it to Avery when speaking with Brendan. The gun theory creates a much more believable manner of death than what Brendan described during the previous two interviews. Brendan stated initially that Teresa died by being tied up with ropes in her RAV4 and stabbed to death with a knife that was then stashed away under her car seat. Tyson knew first-hand that no knife had been found in the RAV4 and no evidence supported this argument. They had, of course, collected about 10 bullets from the garage and Avery’s .22 (the following day they also received the lab report confirming Teresa was shot in the head).
Fassbender and Wiegert both alluded to the gun earlier in the day but not by specific kind after Brendan repeatedly said Avery stabbed her to death: “Did he say he had, had a gun…at all? Did you ask him about a gun?” The attempts of getting Brendan to collobarate the gun angle became increasingly fierce during the March 1 interview, culminating with “I’m just gonna come out and ask you. Who shot her in the head,” after Brendan had rambled off a series of other possible head-related attacks including choking, punching, slashing of the throat and cutting her hair. After they asked that question, Brendan then says Steven shot her with his .22; this detail of Steven’s .22 gun was again relayed to Brendan during the hotel interview. Through the March 1 interview, the amount of times Teresa was shot and by whom escalated to about 10 shots, coincidentally matching the number of bullets recovered.
Finally, we can also see hints at other details of the crime that appear to have been refined during these unrecorded 11th hour interview sessions. Each time Brendan mentioned the bloody shirt prior to the evening interview, he insisted it was a blue button-up shirt (five times during the first two interviews). Suddenly, the first time they ask again what she was wearing during their March 1 interrogation, Brendan says it was “like a white T-shirt” which is exactly what she was believed to be wearing the day she disappeared. He also then claimed that the fire smelled bad despite previously saying it did not–another topic they discussed during the hotel interview. Even the shovel bit discussed that evening was expanded in the March 1 interview, with Brendan then suggesting Steven used it to break apart the bones and bury or transport them elsewhere.
Knowing how Fassbender and Wiegert fed Dassey all of the key points of the case that “only the killers would know,” it is disheartening to know that the hotel interview sessions on February 27, 2006 were not recorded yet details from them were still used to help convict Brendan. Trying to piece together an even remotely cohesive analysis of what many would consider a “secret” interview session took a tremendous amount of effort. A few tiny blurbs were provided in the CASO files as summary reports and appeal documents, while many other points had to be gleaned by reading between the lines of all of Brendan’s interviews and various trial testimonies.
(P.S., Meticulously reading through every line of Brendan’s interviews and testimonies and realizing that he was somehow convicted and sentenced to life in prison based on his infinitely varying “confessions” is absolutely soul-crushing to me.)
So they put Brendan and Barb in a hotel room because they were concerned for their safety – for 1 freakin night. After they got what they wanted Brendan to say, they pushed them out the door and allowed them to go back to the dangerous situation and fend for themselves… give me a break.
These investigators knew exactly what they were doing and took advantage of Brendan. It’s disgusting.
I get so pissed off every time I read Brendan’s supposed confessions.