We can't possibly fit all the intriguing details of this story into our podcasts, so we'll use this space to write about some of the other twists and turns that come up as we're reporting. We don't have a commenting feature here, but please tell us what you think on our Facebook page or via Twitter, or send us an email.
It happened this morning, quickly and quietly. No packed courtroom, no crying, no cheering. Instead, during a court hearing via Zoom, Baltimore City prosecutor Becky Feldman told the judge that her office was dropping all the charges against Adnan. They won’t be re-trying him for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. ~ See More
Last week, when I saw the news that Judge Martin P. Welch granted Adnan a new trial, I happened to be on Skype with our Executive Producer Julie Snyder, and both of us did exactly the same involuntary thing of sucking in our breath and then putting our hands over our mouths. We weren’t so much shocked because of the legal arguments, but because it was such a longshot, this outcome.
I just looked up my very first taped conversation with Adnan. ~ See More
Or at least he’s written an affidavit that’s kind of a stunner.
Stay with me here. There’s been a development in Adnan’s case — to me, the most interesting one I’ve seen. And it comes from, of all people, the cell phone expert who testified at Adnan’s trial. Abraham Waranowitz.
Waranowitz was the radio frequency engineer for AT&T who testified at Adnan’s trial about what cell towers pinged at what locations on the day that Hae Min Lee went missing in 1999. His job on the stand was to decode cell phone data that AT&T had handed over to the detectives.
And while Waranowitz’s words on the stand were few, and technical, and soporific [see Episode 5, where I admitted to being so bored by the whole thing that I handed it all over to our producer Dana Chivvis to investigate], his testimony was in fact fantastically important. That’s because the cell records from Adnan’s phone that day were used to corroborate Jay’s story about what happened. So Waranowitz’s interpretation of those cell records underpinned the state’s entire case against Adnan. ~ See More
Last week, we asked people who’ve been listening to Serial to chip in if they wanted a second season. This American Life funded the bulk of Season One, but for Serial to continue, it needs to pay for itself. Today, we have good news: between the money you donated and sponsorship, we’ll be able to make a second season. We don’t know yet what the story will be or exactly when we’ll be airing Season Two, but we’ll be working on it as soon as this season ends.
Recently we looked at the weather on Jan. 13, 1999 – the day Hae Min Lee went missing. In Episode 1, Asia McClain, Adnan’s potential alibi witness, tells Sarah she specifically remembers seeing Adnan after school on Jan. 13 at the Woodlawn Public Library. She says she remembers that day because of the snow. It was possibly “the first snow of the year” and she remembers getting snowed in at her boyfriend’s house that night. She also thinks that school was cancelled the next two days.
So we were curious about when the weather got bad that day. Was it snowing that night in Leakin Park? How about when Jay and Adnan were driving around Baltimore County, from school to "Cathy’s" and then to Jay’s house and wherever else? ... Read More
In Episode 05, Sarah talks about a friend of Adnan named Ja’uan. The detectives interviewed him on April 20, about seven weeks after Adnan had been arrested. Ja’uan told them that sometime after Hae went missing, he and Adnan had gone to the Best Buy parking lot to smoke weed. The detectives asked him why Adnan would choose that spot. Did it have any significance? Ja’uan told them he thought Adnan and Hae used to go there to have sex. ... Read More
We've just added this simple timeline of the case to our Maps, Photos, Etc. page. It covers the major events in the year and a half from when Hae went missing to when Adnan was sentenced to life in prison. We'll have a much more detailed timeline of Jan. 13, 1999 coming later this week. ... Read More
We’ve added two graphics to the site today that might be helpful as you listen to the rest of the season, although they’re especially relevant to Episode 5. The first is a map, which shows key locations in the story, some of which you’ll hear about in today’s episode. On the map you can roll over the pins and towers to see more information.
The other is the call log from Adnan’s cell phone on January 13th, 1999. Adnan got his cell phone two days before Hae went missing, on January 11th. As Sarah said in Episode 4, the detectives used this call log - listing the times of calls and cell tower locations - to map the crime and corroborate Jay’s story. And if there’s one document in this investigation that’s become our bible as we muddle through this case, it’s this one. Sarah, Julie and I each have a copy of this call log on our desk at all times. Just a note to help you navigate the calls, Jay testified to making the ones to Jenn, Patrick and Phil. ... Read More
We’ve been getting lots of questions about why we’re only releasing one episode per week instead of the entire season all at once for those of you inclined to binge-listen. The reason is: We're still making them. As I write this, in fact, Sarah is re-writing Episode 5.
I guess you could say we didn’t get all our work done ahead of time. We’re reporting this story as we write it. We’re still pinning down information, doing interviews, following leads. So when you listen each week, the truth is that you’re actually not all that far behind us. ... Read More
This is a map of the gravesite in Leakin Park and of the places where the police found evidence. The straight line that runs diagonally through the center of the map shows the distance from the road to the place where Hae’s body was found. The splotchy-looking things are trees. The dotted rectangle at the top is the pull-off, where they found a bunch of shell casings and made a tire impression cast. The condom and condom wrapper were just down the road from the pull-off, and across the street is where they picked up two Blockbuster cases and some more shell casings. So, the only evidence they collected from near Hae’s body was a rope, a liquor bottle and a feather. But they did find three additional pieces of evidence on and underneath her body: a piece of human hair and two fibers. More on that later. ... Read More
Last spring, Adnan sent me a letter about ... something, I can’t even remember exactly what. But it included these two graphs that he’d drawn out in pencil. With no explanation. There was just a Post-it attached to the back of one of the papers that said: “Could you please hold these 2 pages until we next speak? Thank you.”
Here’s what he sent:
This was curious. It crossed my mind that Adnan might be … off his rocker in some way. Or, more excitingly, that these graphs were code for some top-secret information too dangerous for him to send in a letter. ... Read More
Asia’s letters give a small glimpse into Woodlawn High School in the days after Adnan’s arrest. Most people we talked to in the last year - former students and teachers - have a hazy memory of those months. But Asia writes about a school divided over whether or not Adnan is guilty. One teacher tells a group of students that the police wouldn’t have just arrested him on a whim. And, “White girl Stacie just mentioned that she thinks you did it. Something about your fibers on Hae’s body…” But his friends are sticking up for Adnan, telling Asia he’s innocent. She sees “Emron” (probably Adnan’s friend Imran) and says that “he looked like crap.” She concludes that most people think he's innocent. The ones who think he’s guilty are “the ignorant (and some underclassmen).” Although, to be fair, she’s kind of on the fence herself.
Big news: we’re launching Serial on Friday, October 3rd.
You can get Episodes 1 ("The Alibi") and 2 ("The Breakup") here or on various audio platforms, including iTunes (subscribe here) that day at 10am ET. The first episode will also air on This American Life the same day. If you want a preview, click on the play button at the top of the page, or subscribe in iTunes. You can also read more about the story directly below this post.
As the season unfolds, we’ll be adding extras in this space: curious tangents I can't fit into the podcast, plus timelines, people maps, diagrams - and photos, like the one above, of Adnan in his football uniform. This would have been the fall of his senior year, right before Hae Min Lee went missing. Adnan's picture didn't appear in the 1999 yearbook along with the rest of his class (he was in jail awaiting trial when it went to press), but one picture of him did slip in, in the group shot of the football team. ... Read More