In the sixth episode of HBO Max’s gripping crime series ‘The Staircase,’ Michael Peterson’s neighbor Larry Pollard proposes a new theory concerning Kathleen’s death to Sophie Brunet to prove Michael’s supposed innocence. According to Larry, Kathleen was attacked by a barred owl, which inflicted the lacerations in the deceased’s skull, before she fell down the stairs.
Larry and Sophie set out to prove their theory by going through the photographs of evidence taken by the police, and they find feathers in the same. As Larry’s discovery astounds the viewers, one must be thinking about the real-life connections of the character. On that note, here’s everything you need to know about the same!
Was Larry Really Michael’s Neighbor?
Yes, Larry Pollard was really Michael Peterson’s neighbor. Larry and his wife Brenda lived next door to the 1810 Cedar Street mansion in Durham, North Carolina — Michael and Kathleen’s residence at the time of the latter’s death. Since Kathleen’s death, Larry, a lawyer, started to work on the case pro bono, especially by submitting multiple unsuccessful motions. However, his significance in the case is mainly due to a theory he proposed to explain Kathleen’s death, known as “the owl theory.”
As per Larry’s theory, a barred owl attacked Kathleen outside her house, and its sharp talons caused the lacerations in her skull. Larry believes that Kathleen ran upstairs of her house and fell down the stairs, killing herself. State Bureau of Investigation of North Carolina then released a report that states Kathleen had a microscopic feather in her hair, making Larry’s theory probable. However, Michael’s attorney David Rudolf couldn’t use the theory and it has never been tested in court as well.
Still, experts reportedly backed Larry’s theory when it was proposed. Although Larry couldn’t prove Michael’s supposed innocence using his theory legally, the same remains an integral part of the discourse concerning the case. Although the eponymous character in ‘The Staircase’ was likely conceived based on the real-life Larry, fiction was included in the character’s storyline. According to Larry, he and Michael didn’t share a friendship and were just neighbors.
In the show, the Peterson family stays with Larry when the police investigate their house, which didn’t happen in real life. In an interview in May 2022, Larry revealed that Michael came to his house only on three instances, indicating their formal neighborly relationship. Nonetheless, Michael had acknowledged Larry’s efforts to prove his supposed innocence. “That man [Larry] has suffered more than anybody, except me, during my trial and afterwards. He was ridiculed, dismissed as a lunatic. And then it [the owl theory] came out oh, wait a minute, there might be more to this,” Michael told The News & Observer.
Where is Larry Pollard Now?
Larry Pollard is seemingly still a practicing attorney based in Durham, North Carolina. He and his wife Brenda continue to live at the same house they resided in when Kathleen died, next to the mansion earlier inhabited by the Petersons, in the neighborhood of Forest Hills in Durham. Antonio Campos, creator of ‘The Staircase,’ talked with Larry about the owl theory since it’s an integral part of the show. However, he had revealed that he wasn’t involved much with the filming of the series. Years after Kathleen’s death, Larry still talks to the media about the famed owl theory.
Read More: The Staircase: Where Are They Now?