Thoughts on Serial?

Spoilers abound.


There wasn’t supposed to be a Dinner Table topic this week, but I just finished the podcast Serial and couldn’t help myself. If you haven’t listened to it, I recommend you give it a try.

Topic: What are your thoughts on Serial? Who do you think did it? Do you agree with Sarah Koenig’s conclusion? Thoughts on the show itself?

DT9 - SerialTim’s Answer: I’ve loved podcasts for a long time—they’re how I absorb a huge amount of the content in my life. Getting your content—whether it be news, entertainment, or learning something—over audio makes so much sense. The other two ways to take in content are by reading or watching, and in both of those cases, your attention is monopolized. Can’t multitask while reading a book or magazine and your multitask possibilities when watching TV are very limited. But audio content is specifically meant to be absorbed while doing something else—commuting, exercising, cooking, hiking, doing errands, doing laundry—and for a busy person, this is a dream. (While we’re here, my favorite podcasts: The Economist, This American Life, Radiolab, NPR: Planet Money, NPR: Intelligence Squared, In Our Time (especially the Science and History Archives), Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, This Week in Startups, Stuff You Should Know, Brain Stuff, Tim Ferriss, PTI, The BS Report.)

So I was thrilled when Serial came out, because it helped make podcasts even more popular, and I think it’s going to launch an era of podcast “seasons” that are every bit as riveting as a TV show.

As for the show itself, I was hooked like everyone else, and as for who I think did it:

I thought the “If he was innocent, damn was he unlucky” thing by producer Dana on the last episode was the strongest case against Adnan, but because I deep down still just don’t really believe he did it, and because he’s so likable, I’m still on his team. I hope he didn’t do it and I hope he somehow gets out of jail.

The crazy thing is that either:

1) Adnan is innocent, in which case he’s such a hero for the way he’s handled everything and carried himself and for how he’s made the best of the whole thing—and what a horribly sad situation he’s in. Jay, on the other hand, would be a wretched human, either covering for himself or someone else by coldheartedly sitting in court and ruining an innocent man’s life, while Adnan sat there a few feet away. And if that’s the case, this podcast coming out was the worst possible luck for Jay.


2) Adnan actually did it, in which case in addition to being a creepy murderer, he is one of the world’s most prolific liars and frauds. Jay, meanwhile, is just an unfortunate dude who got caught up in all this and it sucks for him that everyone now is re-questioning his situation (think about what his life has been like the last couple months).


3) Mailkimp

  • Richard

    TOTALLY missed this podcast! Subscribed at the spot and will catch the first episode when I get home

  • mmKALLL

    I don’t have any thoughts really, since I’ve never even heard of the damn thing. This might be true for a lot of international readers.

    • Mike in New Zealand

      Yeah I have no idea what this is either

      • KB in Boston

        You can listen via internet or a podcast app. It’s great.

    • jasvisp

      Not just international, buy the way.

  • Matt

    Dana’s summation is what sealed it for me that Adnan was guilty. Coupled with the fact that they were together that night, and the cell tower by Leakin (sp?) Park was pinged that night. And Jay knew where the car was. I think Jay was more involved and was trying to cover his butt, that’s why his story kept shifting. But, I agree Adnan should not have been convicted based on the evidence, but I think he did it.

  • Swellcatt

    Personally I don’t think he did it but I vacillated back and forth. Just like Sarah said I wouldn’t have convicted him of I was a juror. There is ZERO info that tied him to it and more that you dissect Jays testimony the more I think that Jay was trying out Story telling as a career and he’s really bad at it. I hope that Adnan gets his new trial and gets out. Even if it’s just time served. He’s young enough to have a life and even if He did it, he’s done the time. Free adnan! But also mail kimp is really shady

  • roger_orange

    Aside from the show itself, Serial fascinates me as a phenomenon. It’s like Welcome to Night Vale on a much larger level, inspiring public commentary and “fan art” that could not have existed or spread before. The reactions are a bigger story than the thing itself. It’s an enormous conversation not controlled by wealthy, enlightened “Creatives” making passive “Fans'” decisions for them. (Sorry, Aaron Sorkin.)

  • gatorallin

    I liked the #3 choice.. yup, clearly a conspiracy used to promote Mailkimp… lol that was great.

    • gatorallin

      But seriously, the DNA should have been tested a long time ago, so I want to hear the results there for sure. Adnan wants it tested 16 years later to “see what it says”, but he never claims that info will set him free, because it may have his DNA.

      But, if you were hanging out with Jay and he found the car so you know for sure he is involved on some level..(assuming cops did not find it and feed that info to Jay) . and Jay’s confession(s) is the 99% of the info the Cops use to nail Adnan, and yet Adnan still claims to be innocent, but you harbor no ill will to Jay or you can’t say Jay was guilty for this crime….??? (btw I find Zero credibility that Adnan is afraid of Jay or some retaliation possibility as it seems more likely that Jay was afraid of Adnan) Adnan never gets upset that the killer is still out there… why? Listen to the last episode (#12) at the 6:30 min. mark. Adnan says “The ONLY person in the whole world that can have that is me………and um….for what it is worth, who ever did it”. He acts so flip about it, but he made a freudian slip here and then at the last second caught himself and tried to fix it by adding the killer. Note he did no say Murderer as he is still hinting it was an accident. “and for what it is worth” as if an afterthought …Busted. No innocent person would behave this way or say these things. (Motive for Adnan lying all this time… I think her death was an accident and not planned and I think Adnans relationship with his family is much more important than most realize and why he can’t come clean now… it is the only thing he really values). I don’t think Adnan thought he would be found guilty, or had enough shame/guilt to not fight this any harder at the time. Adnan remember some amazing detail, but of the day of the crime he has no real memory, PLUS he puts no obvious effort in going back to reconstruct the timeline of that day. This lack of memory for this part is too convenient an excuse for someone who is truly innocent. Look closely at the Ryan Ferguson case to better understand how someone who is innocent will behave. And one more comment.. .the fact Adnan is likeable proves he is a master manipulator and for me and makes me want to look at him closer vs. consider that he is more likely to be innocent. I think you seen Only the side of Adnan he wants you to see, but that when the info about stealing money from the communion plate issue came up, you see his anger slip out (note this shows his current concern that his relationship with his parents is kept intact, a major thing Adnan still values and why he can’t come clean).

  • Stone2Water

    I loved the series. I picked it up after the first 9 episodes were out and got so hooked, I binge-listened to all 9 the same day. Then… had a mini rage stroke when I learned the next episode wasn’t coming out until AFTER Thanksgiving week (as I’d been under the impression that the whole series was complete when I started listening).
    I think Adnan did it. As much as I don’t want to, it’s the only thing that makes any sense. I think Jay was there for the whole thing and tried to pretend that he was just an accessory after-the-fact, which is why his story kept shifting. I also think Hai was killed later than the prosecution’s theory asserted. That call from the phantom pay phone just 20-something minutes after school ended didn’t have to be from Jay. Because I don’t think Adnan was ever without his phone.
    That being said, I wouldn’t have voted to convict him as a juror. When you separate what the jury knew from all the additional evidence Sarah found, there just wasn’t enough to convict Adnan of murder.

    • gatorallin

      Yeah, from what we know about other cases … people like Jay greatly minimize their involvement (2 shovels?) … btw.. what do you think about the issue that the DNA was never tested….?

      • Stone2Water

        I was initially appalled at the failure of the police to test the DNA evidence. But, among the many other things they didn’t follow up on (including a serial killer being in the area!), I guess it’s not that surprising. They figured they had the guy, and rather than further bog down the system with lab submissions and warrants for data searches, they went with what they had. (And as thin as it looked to a lot of us, it actually worked.)
        Jay’s involvement was what convinced me. I think I would have otherwise felt like Adnan was innocent. But Jay pointed them to her car, he discarded shovels and soiled clothes, and reportedly talked to other people about the crime at a time when no one (other than who was there) would have known anything about the circumstances of her death. That, along with Adnan’s “inability” to remember anything helpful from that day and the cell phone towers pinging his phone near Leakin Park during the time (according to Jay and the physical evidence) that they would have been burying her body was just too many things to accept as bad luck or coincidence.
        But a total lack of physical evidence for a murder carried out by a high schooler is hard to believe. For that reason alone, you’d think the police would have tested the DNA.

        • gatorallin

          well said….

  • Aaron, just…. Aaron

    To me, it feels a little like Adnan was innocent, but with a heaping helping of ‘wrong place/wrong time/wrong associations’ as well as the state just wanting to tie the crime to a perpetrator and get the indictment. Add in a dusting of over-zealous lawyering which put off the jury, and you’ve got a delicious Guilty Cake.
    From what I recall, there was some interesting things which weren’t brought up during the trial; the girl who swore Adnan was at the library (who didn’t testify), Jay lying on the stand and to police repeatedly..
    If you hadn’t seen on various media outlets, not only are they going to see if there’s any DNA left to test, but I just saw today that apparently Jay is ready to talk.
    My assumption is that Jay’s testimony was coached by the police (especially considering the police supplied a councilor for Jays trial? how did this not get brought up at trial? did they do this out of the goodness of their hearts? I doubt it) to string Adnan up. Wrong man? Maybe, but better than an unsolved mystery with many man-hours sunk in, and a steady influx of new cases to investigate.

    edit: Mail………..kimp??

    • gatorallin
      • Aaron, just…. Aaron

        I was typing out the annoying delivery. I’m familiar with mailchimp. : )

  • KB in Boston

    This is what I posted on FB the day of the finale: “For me, the end of SERIAL was utterly satisfying. Sarah Koenig shined a light on a broken judicial system, a “mess” of a case (against a young person, no less), and proved beyond doubt that there was, in fact, doubt—lots of it. So I believe that Adnan, whether he did it or not, should not be in prison for life.”

    In terms of the actual case, I think that even if Adnan did it, he shouldn’t be in prison—either because he should’ve been acquitted through reasonable doubt or should’ve been offered a plea deal (in which case he’d be out by now). And if the cops/courts would rather find a fall guy and call it a done deal than actually look at evidence, test DNA, interview witnesses like Asia McLane, etc., then I’m utterly horrified (again!) about our system. I’m really hoping that whatever comes out through the work of the Innocence Project brings some closure to this, one way or another.

  • Paula

    I’m partial to third-party theories. It’s hard to believe that a 17 year old carried out a premeditated murder and a cover-up without leaving any incriminating physical evidence. Somebody more experienced and mature probably was directing. Most homicide cases, as the expert said, contain good physical evidence. The Innocence Project’s tests of fibers and DNA could be very informative but are still long-shots since samples are small and degraded. The witness testimonies don’t factor in the balance for me because they’re the least reliable types of evidence and mislead more than illuminate. A more likely theory is that both Adnan and Jay were involved but both were telling partial truth mixed with some lies/embellishments. A main plot to account for all the missing time, all that driving, all the cell phone calls, probably involve a critical third party.

    • gatorallin

      so why does Adnan not blame Jay (who put him in jail)….?

  • Wim K

    I have no idea what any of this is, but hey, if there’s a WBW post about it I’m Googling it right away.


    Despite all of the evidence, or lack thereof, nothing convinced me of Adnan’s innocence more than his reaction when he asked Sarah why she was so interested in the case, and/or had her suspicions. Sarah said (paraphrasing), “Well, you. You seem like such a nice guy.” And rather than eat that up, as a true sociopath would, he points out that she really doesn’t know him that well. Then, he very openly expressed his frustration that Sarah’s doubts were not based on the strength of the information gathered. I also find it compelling that he has not (as far as we know) concocted an alternative story in which he was not involved.

    My theory is that Jay was jealous/mad about Adnan’s close relationship with Stephanie. Jay tried to hook up with Hae in retaliation, and things went south from there.

    • gatorallin

      …so why does Adnan not blame Jay (who put him in jail)….?

  • ES

    I want to believe that there was a third party involved, one that Jay was so scared of exposing that he threw Adnan under the bus to protect himself. And maybe Adnan has chosen not to aggressively pursue his innocence for the same reasons. At one point in an interview with SK, Adnan seems to express some feelings of responsibility for what happened to Hae, even though he claims to be innocent of directly murdering her. Her death might’ve had something to do Adnan or Jay’s ties to the “wrong crowd” or drug gangs in Baltimore (as a disclaimer, I was in the middle of watching The Wire when Serial came out).

    As far as odds go though, Adnan is the most likely culprit. It’s a shame that several lines of evidence weren’t looked into, particularly forensics, because I feel that we really don’t have enough information to conclusively state anything in this case.

  • Michael

    My thoughts on Serial can be summarized most succinctly: “Serial?”

    Today’s post on a scale of 1 to 10 for reaching out to the entire readership with topics of common interest? 0

    Interest in that mammoth entertainment monkey guy’s blog? Waning.

  • Artyom Karapetov

    Which one, Fruit Loops or Cheerios?

  • Beth

    LOVE this dinner table topic question! Admittedly, pre-Serial I wasn’t a very big podcast person. I jumped on the bandwagon after numerous friends and the NYT told me that I HAD to give it a try. After the first 15 minutes, I was hooked … and then binged on six episodes in a row. I am still not what I would call a “podcast person” … but I’m a complete and wholehearted “Serial person.” Importantly, it changed the way I approach the American criminal justice system … also, less significant to society but still significant to my personal life, it changed how I seek out “entertainment.” Before Serial I wouldn’t have dreamed of waiting for a single podcast episode … it was a re-discovered experience for me WAITING for Thursdays (as opposed to being a loyal Netflix-er and not having to really wait for anything) … and it was a flashback to the days of my adolescence when I had to wait for weekly television shows, my favorite song to play on the radio, or to be able to buy the CD (and hope beyond hope that it included each song’s lyrics) in order to see what that ONE word in that one song that I couldn’t quite make out was. The novelty of waiting for each episode, and the overall feeling that Sarah Koenig was in the same boat as the listener, and the entire woven storyline of real life people … was what truly distinguished this podcast not only from other podcasts … but from other forms of entertainment. Serial has been placed on my list of “if-another-human-loves-this-we-will-be-forever-friends” (like Catch-22 or Harry Potter) … SO glad that Wait But Why is one of those “humans” … I would’ve guessed you’d be fans 🙂

    • Stone2Water

      A million times, YES! Binging on episodes? (check! see my note below) But actually LIKING the anticipation of waiting for the next installment? That was awesome! It IS like when we were kids. 🙂

      I also put True Detective on that list of things that determine whether someone is friend material 🙂

  • mallo

    You shouldn’t do such questions because most of the world probably didn’t ever hear of “Serial”. Well, actually, I have no idea about rest of the world, but I didn’t for sure.

    • Lil TCD

      Just because it is not relevant to you doesn’t mean it’s not a good topic. I had never heard of Serial so I looked it up and finished the season today. I’m glad it was the topic Tim picked because it led me to this great podcast! There have been other Dinner Table topics that I haven’t cared for but I just get over it and wait for the next week’s topic. Tim’s pretty awesome but he can’t please everyone all the time!

  • Kathleen Casey

    Adnan is guilty as sin. How could he have no recollection of the day his ex disappeared for good? Adnan says he was framed and the ONLY word he had for Jay was “pathetic”.
    The man who happened upon the the victim’s body in the Linkin Park is the brother in law to one of Hae Min Lee’s teachers. While his brother was a neighbor to Adnan some 8-9 years earlier. Isn’t that more than coincidental? Didn’t someone direct him to that spot?

  • rKater

    Serial was my first podcast too. As a crime drama fan, I agree with Buzzfeed’s comment that it was the best Crime Drama of 2014 and those complaining about today’s topic should really give it a try.

    I believe Adnan is innocent. His lawyer just messed up pretty bad. It’s just what I feel but I think Don should still be a suspect. Working for his mom and his dad being a cop, just saying… I hope the innocence project team will figure things out.

    I think the best part was how the story matches the medium. It would be quite hard and boring to watch this on TV as the story is progressing in parallel to the broadcast. Looking forward to season 2.

  • jasvisp

    Now I feel so old. What is a ‘podcast’? Please explain what “Serial” is. Thank you and goodnight!

  • Garniergirl

    I totally read this as ‘cereal’ and now I feel sad that I have so much to about porridge oats and no-where to express myself. Is this why I have no friends Tim???

  • teamhae

    don’t know who did it, but two shady things:
    1. why would hae agree to drop adnan off in the very back of the best buy parking lot and park there?
    2. why did jay know how shallow the grave was?

  • DLX

    I don’t have a clue of what are you talking about.

  • I’ve listened to some episodes more than once at this point. I am very interested in the comment Dana made in the last episode as well, and initially that comment did feel like a big nail in the coffin of the case against Adnan. However, more interesting to me are questions about how much our human perception of the circumstantial evidence against Adnan can be trusted, given that he is the suspect identified by police (aka given that we essentially think he did it). The Nisha call, for example. Looks bad from the “unluckiest guy” standpoint. But, if Adnan were purposefully being framed by someone who had his phone, well, the Nisha call and much of the other evidence against him might make pretty decent sense in the context of a totally different story. Are humans good at assessing such myriad possibilities? I don’t think so. We are notoriously bad at problems involving probability that feel intuitive, but are not (See: The Monty Hall Problem).

    Yes, if Adnan did it, and knows he did it, he is an amazing liar to a point that I find completely chilling. Because, well, almost every time he talks throughout Serial, I believe him.

    A theory that I feel like isn’t getting enough play is that he did it, but has kind of re-written history in his memory and doesn’t believe he did it anymore. This was brought up in one of the last few episodes, and I think it could make a lot of sense. It would be consistent with him not remembering the day well (although so would him being innocent), and also with the convincingness of his emotional explanations of that time of his life. What I mean is, if he really did just sort of snap for a minute or two, but was overall a relatively well-balanced person, then it seems possible that he kind of IS telling the truth, but is also guilty.

    The re-written history theory is also consistent with him dragging Jay into the mix (maybe). Some time is devoted to the “if he did it, why chose Jay?” question. Maybe Jay was just the first person he thought of in a moment of blind panic, not a cleverly crafted choice of accomplice, as has been suggested by some.

    And, maybe Jay’s lies and inconsistencies are because he wanted to make the act sound more pre-meditated than it actually was, not because Adnan isn’t guilty, but because Jay wanted Adnan to look more like a cold-blooded killer, to lessen his own sentence for involvement.

    • gatorallin

      …so then it would be interesting to see if Adnan could pass a lie detector test, done by a top professional that really knew what they were doing. I think Adnan remembers almost every little detail of that day, but conveniently goes blank for most of that day. His lack of effort to go back to any memories that are provided by others is just too convenient for me to believe and a huge red flag for someone who needs to prove their innocence, but can’t remember anything of value that one important day. (yet everyone else can for that day).

      As for why he picked Jay….. if Adnan is a narcissistic sociopath and master manipulator (lets assume for argument he is), then he would think he was smarter than Jay and had leverage over him and was already involved with him (telling him he was going to do it, had the car, needed help, etc) and in a way it give Adnan his power back he so desperately needs (what good is it if no one knows? for a true narcissist).

      • Yes-it would be very interesting to see the results of a polygraph test on Adnan. Although, if he did it and blocked it out, I wonder what sort of result we could expect?

        I assume most Serial obsessed folk have read this interview by now. For me, it has been sort of a game changer. Mostly because, at last, Jay gives a reason for his changing story that makes sense to me.

        Can’t wait for the next installment!

        • gatorallin

          I know they have a world renowned FBI super lie detector expert that does them for the Dr. Phil TV show, so it would be interesting to hear from someone like that if you can effectively block out things and thus be guilty of a crime or done something of a serious nature, but no longer remember it well enough to thus get around a lie detector test. Normally the tricks are to be on drugs, or stress yourself out during the “what is your name” or baseline questions, so that the stress of the lie does not show up as strongly and thus maybe you fool the test or test is non conclusive, but I hear that any professional tester knows those tricks (and more) and thus can confirm how to avoid those tricks. Anyhow, my gut is that you might forget or be able to forget a few small details, but the main questions of did you choke or kill Hae is not the type of detail he could forget or talk himself out of actually remembering. I would be more worried that if you were a true sociopath and had no remorse or no strong feelings about killing someone, then maybe you could lie about it much easier, or control your emotions because you had none (about that subject anyhow). It was telling for me when Sarah was asking Adnan about the money stolen from the church plate and Adnan got upset about that quickly and was surprising to me, considering how cool/collected he was about so many other things that you would assume would upset him more. I noticed one other place when Adnan got upset and that was when they were talking about testing the DNA, that no one would test it for 16 years, so now he/Adnan wants people to know he is pushing for it. At first I assumed he was almost crying, that no one cared about him enough (or believed him) to want to test it…. the woe is me, no one loves me emotion.. but later I was thinking, what if he knows that it will come back only with his DNA (Remember Jay refused to help move the body, so as not to put his DNA on the body) and thus the idea it could be some random serial killer that was in the area is then removed from his “what if” pile and his family/friends may finally come to the conclusion it had to be Adnan and his lie that he was not involved or some 3rd party story would be too hard to believe anymore. What if they could get the priest or person that called into police to check out Adnan and later plead the 5th.. to confront Adnan now in a taped call, or hidden microphone, it would be interesting to hear his reaction and what type of emotion he might have. Of course a lie detector test is not admissible in court so any lawyer would advise against it as it could only hurt you in a court of law. As for the court of public opinion, I think it could help him if he passed from a reputable testing group, or if Adnan would even offer to submit to one (interestingly enough on the Dr. Phil show you see lots of people who seem guilty of a problem, then day of the test they don’t show up, or they get sick or they fake some problem to get out of the test, so agreeing to do a test and actually doing it prove two different things). I never heard Adnan push for such a test on his own… for what that could be worth… to court of public opinion only.

  • Kthomas4

    This is an interesting theory involving a third party:

    • gatorallin

      so if they test the DNA and no one else shows up… and or Adnan is the only DNA present they can find, does it remove that 3rd party theory? btw..when we got to hear Jay talk a bit he seemed solid to me. Hope they can get Jay talking more to help clear things up.

      • gatorallin

        Of course just after posting this above comment, Jay does a new interview (3 total will be posted up.. I just read #1 and #2) and always had hoped Sarah could add more info on Jay or get him talking. Anyhow, Jay’s interview really fills in a few missing important pieces and for me at least removes any doubt that Adnan did it and is exactly where he needs to be. Sure, I think they should test the DNA to remove any lingering doubts for others….and sure Adnan would likely be out with a better lawyer or if he had taken a plea deal, but I sleep better knowing this narcissistic sociopath is permanently locked up and where he should be.

  • Matt

    I think that Adnan did it. Ironically the very thing that prompted a deep dive into the story was neutralized by the results of the deep dive. Koenig has successfully blown up the state’s timeline, but that also lessens the value of Asia’s observation of Adnan because we think the crime took place later. I too was swayed Dana’s argument that you just have to buy too many shitty-luck coincides to believe that Adnan is innocent. The Innocence Project’s efforts seem like a long shot, and at any rate, don’t account for Jay knowing where Hae’s car was. All the possible explanations that I’ve seen for Jay knowing where Hae’s car was if he wasn’t in any way involved with her death require piling a few more major pieces of back luck onto Adnan.

    As to whether there was enough to convict, I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the jurors heard some alternate, pro-Adnan telling of the story at trial. But again, although WE know his side
    of the story (thanks to Koenig’s work), I don’t know that the jury ever heard it. The only other possible person who might have done this given what we know is Jay. Perhaps another attorney could have done a better job of casting suspicion on Jay, but it sure seems like the jury found him credible. The farthest I’ll go is to suggest that maybe Jay and Adnan did it together but that the police were so eager to get their guy that they overlooked the holes in Jay’s story. But then Adnan has never accused Jay of committing the crime (at least that I recall). As for Adnan, I think that Koenig may have nailed it when she asked why on earth a guilty man would agree to let her do the story unless he was cocky to the point of delusion – I think Adnan might actually be that cocky.

    Coming to this conclusion surprised me because all along I was at least team “not enough to convict,” if not team “Adnan is innocent.”

    Finally, what does Adnan have to gain by coming clean about it now? Despite what he says, I think that admitting his guilt would crush his family and community a lot more than whatever ire they feel about him being wrongfully convicted.

    • gatorallin

      I agree with you on the last paragraph where the only real thing Adnan has is the love of his family and that keeps his story of innocence without wavering. (not like there is a killer on the lose to worry about, at least Adnan never seems to worry about this issue). Lying all these years is an obvious ultimate betrayal to his family/friends that at this point Adnan may see as even worse that the murder (even if the murder was an accident of some kind).

      As for why if he is guilty would he let them do the story..duh. (what else does he have to do and you can tell he loves the attention) Well, they already found him guilty and gave him the maximum sentence, so if they got it overturned and he gets out… then he wins. If she says that she thinks he is guilty, he can continue to claim is innocence for the sake of his family and friends that still believe in him. If Adnan is a true sociopath then what would be better than a story that is all about him? Master manipulators are always smarter than the cops, or the people they manipulate and because he knows the story better than anyone, he can (think) he can control it. (I wonder what if the interviewer was not Sarah, but a man… how would that have changed the chemistry of the interviews?)

      Hope the test the DNA soon and fill in any remaining blanks… I am 98% confident that Adnan is not that unlucky (translation = guilty) and hold out 1% hope that DNA will tell us something new and 1% that Jay will tell us something new.

  • AJG
    • I was just about to post about this. This interview adds a new twist to the tale. I want another episode, but for now I’ll be on the lookout for intercept’s part two. I had been leaning toward believing in Adnan’s innocence, but now I’m not so sure.

      • Kthomas4

        The fact that Jay is changing his story again (about major things!) is so suspicious. Why did he wait until after the podcast finished airing to “tell his side?” Probably so he could have the chance to make sure that what he said filled the holes that his story was full of from the outset. Honestly I feel like all we got out of this interview was stronger evidence that Jay is a liar.

        • True, and regardless of whether or not Jay is telling the truth in this interview, I think that it may now float to the top of the evidence pool in the case for Adnan. Jay changing his story yet again after all this time means the the number one reason for Adnan having been put away should now be thrown out in a court of law. Right? I’m not a lawyer, but were I on a jury, I would have truckloads overflowing with reasonable doubt.

          • gatorallin

            interesting however that the jury at the time did believe Jay, even though he was known as a weed dealer or had his credibility strongly questioned. Even though Jay’s story had holes in it, he jury found Jay more credible. In reading the 2 new interviews from Jay this week, I have to agree with them that Jay seems credible for the what/where/why. Of course I don’t like what Jay was doing and I don’t think if I was in the same position would have made the same choices, but it sure makes sense to me the story Jay is telling and it helps fill in a few gaps for me on motive (for Jay and Adnan). I came into the podcast thinking Adnan must be innocent or at least deserve a fresh trial to have all this support/doubt. Now I want them to test the DNA just to remove any doubt for anyone else.. but personally have Zero doubt that Adnan is exactly where he needs to be. I only feel bad for Hae’s family and hope they have some closure or confidence they have the right person behind bars.

  • PJ

    I normally never post on online forums, but this is the dinner table, and therefore internet moron-troll proof. So here are my two cents:

    1. Of course this story is about Adnan vs. Jay, but I don’t think the over arching observations it makes on the american (or rather any common law) judicial system is getting enough play. Not long ago, I was a student of criminal law in a common law country, and I remember thinking, how crazy the system is. We send people to their deaths on the basis of circumstantial evidence. And this is done in our name, that is the people of the country. It is for this reason that it is not the victim’s lawyer prosecuting a case, but a public prosecutor.
    The standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is really just on paper, and mostly in real life, it is the accused person’s character/identity on trial. It’s not supposed to be, but it is. Add to this, the human tendency to make errors. The system is enforced by humans who are flawed, and this is why it becomes really important to be objective. To meet all the required standards of proof. The majority of people commenting on this case online think the standard or ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ was not met here, and I agree. It was always a near impossible task to know whether he did it or not, but it was possible to meet standards of proof while prosecuting this case.

    2. I do think racism had a part to play in this case. It is far easier to get the muslim, seemingly foreign guy (think the bail hearing) than the african american guy (correct me if I am wrong, but the jury was a majority african american). The system unfortunately rewards getting a guy, and getting him quickly, not spending time and resources to get the right guy. To me, it seems that Jay was coached by the detectives. Think about the three hours which they spent with him, after which Jay’s testimony changes.

    3. My thoughts obviously go out to Adnan and his family for what they have been through. But mostly, I feel absolutely terrible for Hae’s family. It can’t be easy for them to see all the support for who they think is their daughter’s killer online, and to have Hae’s private life and their traumatic time discussed in such detail. I wish there were better ways to enforce justice, and to correct apparent injustices without trampling all over Hae’s family’s feelings, but I cant think of any other way. I really hope they can come to terms with this rehashing of her case and forgive people for doing it, and see that it has a higher purpose.

  • Jed

    I think a better lawyer could have made a world of difference for team Adnan. I’m exceptionally suspicious of Jay and his love hate relationship with truth, and certainly don’t think there was enough to convict during trial. I hope he gets another chance to prove his innocence and maybe it will turn out differently.

    • gatorallin

      I am guessing only if the DNA points to something beyond Adnan that he would/could get another trial. The interviews from Jay may stir up some more info, but so far it has only convinced me they have the right person in jail.

  • wobster109

    I don’t know who did it. HOWEVER —

    In this country we are “innocent until proven guilty”. So I think Adnan should be freed, because I don’t know if he’s guilty. At least in theory we’re not supposed to lock people up when we’re not sure.

    Of course we’ll never be 100% sure. But some evidence is more credible than others. Physical evidence – a weapon, a video, etc. ranks much higher in my book than anyone’s testimony. If multiple unrelated people testified against Adnan, that would be strong also.

    I’m reminded of Cesar Fierro, who has been in jail for 34 years on death row. He was convicted on the basis of his “confession”, extracted by police who threatened his mother. They told him they had his mother locked up, and she would be convicted unless he confessed. They threatened to torture his mother. This sort of thing makes me doubt any sort of testimony, witness or confession, extracted in untaped interrogations.

    • gatorallin

      It is a shame that they never tested the DNA back then. Lets hope the do that soon. If the murder weapon was Adnan’s hands, it will be interesting to see what DNA shows up. I sure wish the religious person that later plead the 5th would have testified (or at least confirmed they called in to police to check out Adnan) would now come forward. Of course a confession from a priest would be a much different type of confession than one given under duress or police interrogation after multiple hours. It is possible that police got word from this person that Adnan confessed, but they could not come forward without being seen as untrustable for all the other confessions their future congregation would share with them and they trusted the legal system would then find Adnan guilty without the need of their testimony.

      Pretend for a moment that Adnan did do it exactly as Jay details in the recent interviews and then pretend that Adnan found a way to get rid of the body without involving Jay or anyone else and then was able to drop off the car and later that day/night be seen with friends to create a strong albi for himself … then for sure Adnan would have gotten away with this crime (assuming they never tested the DNA back then, or assuming the DNA test was inconclusive)…and assuming Adnan did not confess to the religious contact or anyone else.

      Jay proves to be the critical piece for this case….. interesting the jury found him so believable, even though his credibility as a weed dealer and other lies and many inconsistencies were known. I sure found his recent interviews credible and hope we hear Sarah chime in about her thoughts on it, or maybe Adnan will finally address them in some real detail.

  • Sooty Mangabey

    Thanks to the title of this post, I’ve just emerged from binge-watching the entire season and am now the poorer of $$ for donating towards keeping SERIAL alive.
    The series overwhelmingly convinces that eye-witness testimony is notoriously unreliable and that the “truth” is slippery at best. Adnan is ultimately cast in a very sympathetic light although the host tries to maintain objectivity with her second guessing his character at times. Yes, I would love for Adnan to be innocent and to be vindicated as new evidence (if it still exists) comes to light. But at this point, who the hell knows? Either way it kind of sucks or perhaps one is the lesser of two evils? If he were innocent, what a terrible miscarriage of justice for this young, talented man to have had so many potentially good years taken from him. On the other hand, it’s a scary thought to entertain the existence of such a calculating (which seems inconsistent with his portrayal on the show), sociopathic murderer. The world is a strange and imperfect place.

    • gatorallin

      did you read the new interviews from Jay? I am curious if that changed your opinion in any way?

      • Sooty Mangabey

        Thanks. Just read parts 1&2. Jay’s account seems reasonable and it rather successfully upends the benign impression of Adnan that Sarah Koenig has created for us in the most bone chilling way because we are having to place Adnan in either one of two drastically contrasting categories of character: wrongly convicted innocent vs dastardly manipulative sociopath. We keep going back and forth with what seems likelier or more logical, yet it seems inevitable for our imprecise judgements about the characters of people to influence our judgement of the actual state of affairs.
        I suppose at the end of the day, film, podcasts or any form of mass media are by their nature, going to be manipulative. After all, in trying to capture up to 45 minutes of the “average” person’s attention span, you need to be selective about what you want to present in your program. Jay not participating in the program was certainly going to influence the representation of the subject matter.

      • Sooty Mangabey

        I’ll acknowlege though that I didn’t diligently compare what he said in the interview to what he actually testified in court. Any glaring inconsistencies might actually weaken the case against Adnan.

    • steve ohhh

      If Adnan is a sociopath, he is literally the best actor of all time. That argument, put forth by the prosecution, was weak sauce.

  • Amaya R. Aldabe

    Just like Sooty Mangabey, I came to know Serial thanks to this week’s Dinner Table, and I am SO grateful for that. I loved the podcast.
    I do want to think Adnan is innocent. The thing is, it seems everybody HAS to be lying in order for the pieces to make any sort of sense. I can’t help it: I think something so much bigger is behind this story, something these two kids are lying about, albeit in different ways. Maybe the “being very stoned all day long” is bigger than I picture it in terms of them actually knowing what they did on that day, but I strongly believe the whole story would not be clear if we thought one of them is entirely truthful while the other is entirely lying: it just doesn’t add up.

  • sarah

    My gut tells me Adnan is innocent. But.. What does my gut know about crimes?
    The thing that bothers me is his motivation. A bad breakup isn’t the thing you kill someone over(His friends told it wan’t even a bad one). It only worked in this case because of his ethnicity. Who had the motivation to kill Hae lee? (given that this was premeditated murder.) I really want to know what really happened. It makes me uncomfortable thinking we’re never going to know the truth about this case.

    • The Internet Heel

      bad breakup for Muslim a whole different thing.. They think they “own” the women they are with

  • Innocent Bystander

    Thank you WBW for making this a Dinner Table topic. I had no idea what Serial was and then blasted through the entire series this week. If WBW writes about it, I want to know more.

    Since I had no idea what it was, I avoided all reports about it (including reading this Dinner Table topic) until I completed the series. As such, well…either I’m an idiot or I just missed it, but…ummm…I listed to the whole thing thinking it was fiction – like a mockumentary. So my thoughts were, oh my god, these writers are incredible! To have this much detail, this much expertise, this much minutia, and actors that can come across as if they are really speaking without the precision of delivering a script is amazing. This is a new frontier in podcasting, and I really like it.

    Well, now I know – holy crap – that was a real murder! …no wonder it was “written” and “acted” so well. Amazingly, my overall thoughts on the show itself don’t really change – this is a new frontier in podcasting, and I really like it. Maybe even more so (I’m not a huge fiction guy). Plus, it makes the ending more satisfying and easier to understand why they didn’t wrap up the “script” with a solid conclusion. (The butler did it!)

    I’m not sure why, but somehow I had a feeling it was going to end without a solid conclusion even if it was fiction. It don’t know what it is, but something in the story felt like it was less about the particulars and more a commentary on the judicial system. See commenter PJ’s first bullet point:
    He does a great job laying this out. So I’m not going to add any additional speculation on who did it. As listeners we would just be guessing. But I will say I agree Sarah Koenig – I don’t think there was enough proof, and as a juror I would’ve voted not guilty.

  • Chris

    My comment on the “extremely unlucky” concept is that that’s largely due to a confirmation bias. The prosecutor is going to look hard for any evidence that makes their suspect look guilty and ignore things that contradict their story. If you take anyone’s activities over the course of time and align it to some other random crime, I’m sure you could come up with a variety of ways to tie them to it, even though the events in their lives relative to the crime are effectively random. Combine a large data set with a massive cognitive bias and you can create a very compelling story.

  • Jamie McKie

    I got recommended this by a friend recently and just finished it, plus reading the highlighted post series interview with Jay.

    My opinion is that there is no way to say Adnan or anyone else is guilty or not based on what was presented in the series or post Jay interview. I was however left with one strong and indeed shocked opinion about the whole thing; that being utterly staggered he was found guilty based on the evidence against him which left huge reasonable doubt.

    I may regret saying this on an internet forum but I’ve personal experience with criminal proceedings against a family member who was charged and tried for a crime based on fingerprint evidence and due to an amazing defence along with determination and dare I say it (as it doesn’t seem to matter a $**£ in the courtroom), the truth on her side, was found not guilty (landmark case in Scotland).

    Against the huge weight of evidence against her (fingerprint) the case against Adnan feels like it was put together by a child. It led to a conviction.

    Utterly disgusted.

    Man I could say a lot more but it would just dilute my opinion stated above in 2 words so I’ll leave it at that.

    I’ll finish by more fully answering the questions posed – loved the series. Brilliantly put across and on the podcast format I’m hooked (never used it before).

  • George

    I know I’m a little late to this party, but I only started listening to the podcast when I saw the topic on WBW.

    I’m really inclined to believe there was a third party in this story who is the missing link. Someone, or a group of people, who Jay knew and possibly Adnan too, who orchestrated the whole thing and scared Jay and possibly Adnan to not mention them. I can see them both hiding this third part out of fear for their family’s safety. It’s repeatedly stated that Jay was worried for his girlfriend (Stephanie I think?) and his co-worker at the porn store said he was scared to go outside because he thought someone was after him. For me, this was one of the few things about Jay’s activity that rang true, and it would make perfect sense if there was some gang or serial killer who used Jay to throw suspicion on Adnan. It would also explain why Adnan just doesn’t seem capable of murder, but doesn’t seem to react with the outrage and dogged defence of someone who’s completely innocent either. It seems like he’s innocent, but can’t really tell us why.

    My theory is that the actual murderer/s planned on directing suspicion to Adnan through Jay before the crime was committed. Jay wanted to ‘act hard’ and impress people with how ‘badass’ he was by getting involved with the soon-to-be-murderer/s and ended up in way over his head and being used and dropped in it by these people as the naive little boy they must have seen him as. They recruited Jay to set-up a situation on the day of the murder that made it look like it was Adnan, and made it hard for people to believe Adnan. They had his car and his phone for the whole afternoon and Jay got him high and took him around in a kind of mock journey that would later fit the murder story. Hence going to see Jen when Adnan was really high, which Jen said was a really weird situation, hence the cell towers pinging them to be around Leaking Park at the right time, and possibly hence the call to Neesha; maybe Jay called Neesha and briefly pretended to be Adnan, ‘passing it over’ to Jay who then got to be himself and reduce the acting time and the risk of getting caught, and there’s your witness to put them together, which Neesha probably wouldn’t have thought twice about at the time so would’ve been pretty easy to fool.

    Anyway, this is all very much speculation but the whole way through the podcast it all seemed to fit into the story of Jay manipulating Adnan’s activity for the whole afternoon and evening so he could later blame it on him. That’s why something seems so off about Jay’s story, which almost fits but doesn’t quite, it’s why Adnan doesn’t really have an alibi, and it’s why he seems so blindsided by the bad-looking-but-not-incriminating information against him that he just can’t explain away.

    PS. there’s plenty more that seem to fit with this explanation, but my post is already really long. I also think the weird guy who found the body made a bit of money by ‘stumbling’ across it. That allowed the murderers to control when and if the body would be found. He seemed very much like the kind of guy to be happy to make money to help out with something like that. Sorry my explanation’s very unstructured but I think it fits very well.

    • David

      After listening to Serial a second time through, I was really caught off guard by the relative lack of questioning that the team gave to the ‘anonymous phone call’ from who Koenig says is described as an ‘Asian-sounding man’, that suggested that the search intensify on Adnan. I think it was episode 2. They didn’t really explore it as a possbility; I understand it was an untraceable call and nothing came of it, but the team never brought it up again. Anyway, that third party in this instance definitely lends to your theory as well!

      • George

        Yeah that’s very suspicious. I found there were a lot of really creepy little things like that which just didn’t feel right, which I think is why the case is so interesting to people; it sends a bit of a shiver down your spine like a fictional crime story. Jay’s story just doesn’t fit, it feels manufactured, and it seems the police and jury forced it to fit which leaves everyone involved feeling a bit uneasy

    • The Internet Heel

      the 3rd party was Muslims that helped Adnan kill and they made Jay Wilds say he was involved since the cops knew obviously other people were involved..Muslims thought Adnan would get off, because they threaten to kill Jay Wilds but once Jay wilds said the truth he was protected by FBI and Muslim people could not get to him

  • Dave

    This discussion reminds me of a Fresh Air show on interrogation techniques and the problems with the main one used in the US. Another great listen if you’ve got the time.

  • The Internet Heel

    This is so crazy to me that this podcast has people believing this gu is innocent..Jay Wilds seen the body, he has no reason to lie. The evidence is there yet there is 2 ladies who are in love with this killer are so insane they want people to believe “Adnan just had very bad luck..oh and it was a butt dial that went on for almost 3 minutes” Come on! This Sarah Koenig was so heart broken when the KILLER told her “you don’t even know me” She sounded like a teenage girl who just got her heart broken “what do you mean I don’t know you but but but…” She says he is such a “nice guy” “he has big barrel chest and nice eyes” come on people..
    Then you got this other lady who is OBSESSED with this killer even know she don’t even know him, her little brother went to school with the killer now she is invested in the case somehow. She is INSANE! She also should be a terrorist watch. I would bet she supports the boston bomber too..
    I have no doubts Adnan KILLED this girl and then had members of his ISLAM community help him cover it up and threaten to KILL Jay Wilds. In fact Jay Wilds was scared that “people were going to get him and one night outside work there was a white van parked outside for hours waiting for him to leave..Adnan is a liar!!!
    He laid he did not know where that linken park was yet THAT IS ANOTHER LIE since several people came forward to say they smoked weed with him there.. People just love stories of innocent people in jail and if they even think there is a remote chance of that happening they get all excited..This is not the case, Adnan NEVER called this girl’s phone after she diapered yet they were such “good friends” If my GF was missing I would be CALLING EVERY DAY TO FIND OUT SHE IS OKAY…nOBODY CALLED HER THAT WAS MUSLIM..WHY? BECAUSE THEY KNEW SHE WAS DEAD. Adnan killed her because she was banging another dude. Simple as that. He even asked her for a ride that day to kill her but she said she couldn’t which is the reason why HE KILLED HER..
    get over it..

  • The Internet Heel

    by the way… SERIAL forgets to tell you one MAIN thing..FINGER PRINTS. They were FRESH finger prints of Adnan in Hae’s car.. He killed her

  • steve ohhh

    Super late here, but I wasn’t a WBW reader 6 months ago (got sucked in with Tesla–which led me to read about Iraq, then finish the Tesla post). I am positive that the jury made a mistake and there was insufficient evidence to convict. There is an interview with a juror on the podcast where she comes out and says the jury ignored the judge’s instruction and held Adnan’s refusal to testify against him. Race seems to have been a big factor. And, oh yeah, there wasn’t any evidence against Adnan besides the testimony of someone who definitely lied about the events.

    All that said, there’s a chance he did it. But there’s no way it was or is fair for him to be in jail for the crime, because there wasn’t enough evidence.

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