I seemed to be living under a rock when the “Serial” wave took over.
Before December, I never heard the name, Adnan Syed. Now I can’t get it out of my head.
Recently, I finished “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial” by Rabia Chaudry.
The story follows a more in-depth look at Syed, who is facing a life sentence for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
The story is more personal than “Serial” since Chaudry and the Syeds are family friends.
Though I am a certified true-crime junkie, it wasn’t the murder that hooked me and millions of others to “Serial” and Chaudry’s book. It was the case itself.
Syed was arrested on Feb. 28, 1999, and his trial lasted over a year. The trial was disastrous, from Cristina Gutierrez, Syed’s attorney’s, health and mental capacity diminishing literally during the trial, to the blatant religious and ethnic prejudice against Syed by the State.
There was so much corruption, in this case, it took a half a dozen podcasts, a book, countless blog posts, and articles and now a documentary series to cover it.
One of the most fascinating pieces to this screwed up puzzle is the infamous Jay Wilds.
The night before Syed was arrested, Wilds told the police that not only did Syed tell him he killed Lee and showed him her body in the trunk of his car, but he also helped Syed bury the body at Leakin Park.
The State’s only evidence against Syed was Wilds’ story and Syed’s cell phone tower pings indicating their location that corroborated the story (at least one version of it). There was always something off about Wilds and his work with the police.
For one, Wilds admitted to being an accomplice of premeditated murder and served no time.
There is even evidence highlighted in “Adnan’s Story” that Wilds may have received a $3,000 reward for his work with the police.
I’ve heard of murder accomplices getting less time for working with the police, but never a $3,000 reward.
But, what Chaudry and “Serial” really focused on was the fact that Wilds lied. A lot.
Every time Wilds told his story it seemed like an important element had changed.
Almost a month after Lee was discovered, Wilds gave his official statement. According to Syed, he doesn’t remember every detail of Jan. 13 because it was like any ordinary day. However, if you were involved in a murder, like Wilds said he was, wouldn’t you remember every single detail of that day?
There are so many changes in Wilds’ story: the location of where Syed showed him Lee’s body, when and how they buried the body, where Wilds was when Syed killed Lee and so many other things.
In one version, Wilds said Syed offered him money to help him, in another Syed threatened his girlfriend, in yet another version Wilds helped him just because.
There are so many theories about why Wilds lied. One theory is that Wilds killed Lee himself, though this is a fairly unpopular one.
In this theory, Wilds kills her because she found out he was cheating on his girlfriend. Seems like it’s not enough to murder someone.
Another theory is that Wilds really doesn’t know who it is, but is framing Syed because of Syed’s close relationship with Wilds’ girlfriend.
The most common theory is that Wilds, in exchange for not being sent to prison for selling weed and being an accomplice to murder, came up with a story to convict Syed, who the police had their eyes on anyway. Chaudry, with the help of her “Undisclosed” partners Colin Miller and Susan Simpson go even further to say Wilds had nothing to do with the murder at all, and the police know that. The police forced Wilds into claiming he was an accomplice and fed him the story in order to get a conviction.
The reason why Wilds’ story changed so much is that each time there was a new development or new evidence found in the case.
In this theory, Wilds is essentially a puppet for the police.
The police know Wilds is a young, black man living in a relatively poor neighborhood who sells and smokes weed.
For a lot of men like that their choices are limited.
Fearing for his future, he helped the police frame, Syed, putting him prison where he still remains to this day.
It’s so screwed up to think that the police would go this far in order to convict a seemingly innocent kid, but there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that supports this theory.
Simpson pointed out that, in a few of Wilds’ recorded interviews with the police, you can hear a light tapping in the background.
At first, Simpson thought it was just something weird with the audio, but after a closer inspection, she discovered it was a part of the recording.
Each time there was a tap, Wilds would “adjust” his story. Simpson says the police were doing the tapping to help Wilds remember the story.
“[This] meant that the cops knew for certain Adnan couldn’t have killed Hae in the way that they purported he did,” Chaudry wrote.
“I wonder if they knew he didn’t do it at all, but just wanted a conviction.”
There is so much to unpack with this case.
Wilds isn’t the only one who seemed to be coached or scared by the police (more on that in “Adnan’s Story”).
It’s clear that someone here is lying. The question is who?
Email Yaasmeen at: