Steven Avery’s tumultuous life behind bars — first for a crime he did not commit, and later for a crime he might have committed — has come back into the spotlight recently thanks to the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. But while the show has raised a lot of questions about Avery’s life and the details of his case, it’s also left us wondering about the things that weren’t mentioned — like what happened to Steven Avery’s kids.
We know that Avery was once married to Lori Mathieson, who was a 19-year-old single mom when they met. Together, according to the first episode of Making a Murderer, they raised her son, Jason, and then had four more children, Rachel, Jenny, Steven Jr., and William, although things allegedly became incredibly strained after he was imprisoned on a rape charge. Avery claimed that he received threatening letters from his wife, telling him that she “can’t handle [their] kids anymore.” And prison records show that Avery sent threatening letters to Mathieson following their divorce in 1988, writing things like “I hate you, you got your divorce now you will pay for it,” and “If you don’t brang up my kids I will kill you. I promis. Ha. Ha.,” according to Milwaukee Magazine.
Mathieson and Avery both eventually moved on to new relationships: he moved in with his girlfriend Jodi Stachowski following his release from prison (though they broke up following his second arrest), Milwaukee Magazine reported, while Mathieson married Avery’s former brother-in-law, Peter Dassey. Little is know about his ex-wife today, and even less, it seems, it known about what happened to their children. But according to Post Crescent, Avery’s children — now all grown adults — have seemingly cut ties with their father: "four or five [of the children] have said Avery should not have been let out of prison [the first time]."
Avery’s ex-wife Lori still lives close to the small town where she and Avery raised their children, and the Avery family remains fairly tight-knit and insular, even though they seem to have written their father off completely. According to Milwaukee Magazine, Avery’s brother Earl said his brother was manipulative and intimidating and Avery would call Earl from prison when Earl was only 14 or 15, “[ordering him] to have sex with...Lori.” Another of Avery’s brothers, Chuck, told the magazine that “Steven was a controller,” and that they both sided with Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, who was also implicated in Avery’s murder charge, believing that he was coerced by Avery.
Avery’s case is complicated and incredibly controversial, and thanks to Making a Murderer, viewers have developed plenty of theories and opinions about his innocence. But no matter what the truth is, it seems like any explanation would be a difficult one for Avery’s children. Their lives have probably been affected by their father’s conviction, his long jail sentence, his eventual exoneration, and then, later, his murder charge. Having to live through it all again with the release of Making a Murderer can’t be easy.
Image: Making a Murderer/Netflix