There is one part of Jay’s story that has been bugging me for a while now. Jay claimed in his first police interview that, after dropping Adnan off at track, he went home to wait for Adnan to call to pick him up once practice was over. In Jay’s second police interview, however, and in his testimony at the first trial, his story changes. Jay claims that after dropping Adnan off at track practice, he went to Cathy’s house, where he hung out with Cathy and Jeff for half an hour or so, until Adnan called him to ask to be picked up.
But this story is obviously a lie. Moreover, it is an incredibly dumb lie, because it is easily (and thoroughly) contradicted by Cathy, who is a reliable and credible-seeming witness. According to Cathy, she got home around 5pm that day, and a little while later, Jay and Adnan showed up together. There is no mention whatsoever of Jay making a previous trip to visit her, while Adnan was at track, and in fact, according to Cathy’s timeline, it would have been impossible for Jay’s “first” trip to her apartment to ever have occurred. Even worse, it does not match the cellphone records. There is no way that Jay could have made a trip to Cathy’s after dropping Adnan off at track, not if the cellphone records (or the laws of space-time continuum) have even a shred of meaning.
So this bugged me. A lot. It was a lie that had no apparent explanation, and that made Jay’s story even more impossible and absurd than it already was. Most of Jay’s weird timeline-based lies have obvious explanations for how they evolved, but this one didn’t.
For background purposes, here is what Jay said during his first interview:
Ritz: What happens after you drop him off at school, is there come a point in time when you go back to school and pick him up?
Jay: Yeah, uh huh.
Ritz: How do you know what time to go back to school?
Jay: He called me on the cell phone.
Ritz: Do you recall what time he called you?
Jay: Um maybe like six forty-five, something like that.
Ritz: When he calls you at six forty-five, where exactly are you?
Jay: Ah I think I was at my house.
Ritz: You’re at home?
Ritz: You leave home, you go back over to school to pick him up?
Jay: Uh-huh. (Int.1 at 11-12.)
And here is what Jay said in the second:
Ritz: Were did you drop him off at school?
Jay: In the front.
Ritz: Were do you go?
Jay: I go, I was on my way home, but then I stopped off at G[i]lston Park and ah, ah, I smoked another blunt before I went home. And then, I, I think I may have, may have gone yeah, I went to Cathy and Jeff’s. And [Adnan] called me from the cell phone there and then I left Cathy’s and Jeff’s to hang out. (Int.2 at 20-21.)
And here is why the lie about Cathy’s apartment makes no sense: Jay’s statement in the first interview matches the location data from the cellphone records, while Jay’s statement in the second interview does not. It is generally accepted that Adnan’s call for a pickup from track practice occurred at 4:58 p.m., and this call pings L654C — which would be completely consistent with Jay being at his house (well, one of his houses, anyway) at the time of that call:
As you can see, Jay’s house is easily in range of L654C. Cathy’s apartment, on the other hand, is absolutely not.
Yet in between the first interview and the second, Jay changed his story — despite the fact that Jay’s claim from his first interview, in which he said that he was at his house when Adnan called him to be picked up from track, is one of the only times that he actually managed to tell a story that matched the location data (even if his timing was about two hours off). So why, then, did Jay change his story in the second interview, to tell a version of events that was even more demonstrably false than his first story, and even more in conflict with the location data from the cellphone records?
Because the police told him to, that’s why. The police falsely believed that L654 was located three farther miles south than it really was, and so they made Jay change his story to match their incorrect location data.
To understand what happened, we need to back up a bit and examine what the investigators were doing before and after Jay’s first and second interviews. At the time of the first interview, the detectives definitely had two things: (1) a list of the calls made on January 13, 1999 and the towers they pinged; and (2) a list of the cell towers and the addresses where they were located. Both documents had been faxed over to the detectives by AT&T on February 22, 1999 (as shown by the header data). From comparing the two lists, one thing would have stood out to them: there is one tower located in the middle of Leakin Park, and that tower is pinged at 7:09 and 7:16 pm. Ergo, they conclude, the burial occurred at 7:09 or 7:16 pm.
So they went in and interviewed Jenn and Jay, and get statements that match the evidence they already have. In order to further investigate Jenn’s and Jay’s stories (as well as Adnan’s), they requested a map of the cell tower locations, in order to assist them in visualizing where the various calls are pinging at the various times. Detective Ritz sent a note stating that he was going to “have an engineer prepare a map on a diagram of the calls outgoing and incoming from the cell locations. This would aid[ ] corroborate information provided to us by witnesses and discredit the suspect’s alibi.”
Pursuant to Ritz’s directives, someone then prepared a map charting out all of the towers that Adnan’s cellphone had pinged on the day of Hae’s death. Once it came back, however, the detectives realize they have a big problem with Jay’s story — because it makes a mockery of what the map was showing them.
But whoever made the detectives’ map made an error. They put tower L654 in the wrong place.
It was an understandable error, really. You see, L654 is located at 824 Dorchester Rd., Catonsville, at the southeast corner of 40 and 695, directly south of Westview Mall. You can see how the address was provided on the tower location records faxed over by AT&T:
Only, as it turns out, there are two locations in western Baltimore with the address of 824 Dorchester Road. There is an 824 Dorchester Rd, Catonsville, Maryland 21228 (where L654 is actually located) and an 824 Dorchester Rd, Baltimore, Maryland 21229 (three miles to the south of the tower’s actual location).
The result of these confusing street names is that the cell tower map that was provided to Detective Ritz mistakenly placed L654 at the 824 Dorchester Rd located in Baltimore, not the one located in Catonsville, as shown below:
Most of the towers shown are placed correctly; towers L655 (circled in green), L653 (in blue), L607 (in brown), and L608 (in pink) are all roughly in the right spots. But L654 (in the yellow rectangle) is not. It should be where the yellow ellipse has been placed, north of L655, not in between L655 and L608.
Why does all this matter? Because the false L654 on the detectives’ map is located directly next to Cathy’s apartment:
So going into Jay’s second interview, on March 15, 1999, Detectives Ritz and MacGillivary were armed with an incorrect cell tower map which falsely told them that L654 was located almost directly on top of Cathy’s apartment. L654 was pinged by Adnan’s cellphone exactly twice on the day of Hae’s death, by two incoming calls at 4:27 and 4:58 pm. This must have meant — according to the detectives’ inaccurate map — that Jay was somewhere close to UMBC at those times, which is the presumed range of (false) L654. And what else is near UMBC?
Cathy’s apartment. Which is why the detectives told Jay that he needed to tell a story explaining why the 4:27 and 4:58 calls pinged a tower that was (allegedly) next to Cathy’s apartment. Jay happily obliged the detectives:
And then, I, I think I may have, may have gone yeah, I went to Cathy and Jeff’s. And [Adnan] called me from the cell phone there and then I left Cathy’s and Jeff’s to hang out. (Int.2 at 20-21.)
And there it is. Proof that the detectives coached Jay’s story to make it fit the location data from Adnan’s cellphone.
Because there was no reason whatsoever for Jay to tell this lie, other than that the detectives told him to. Jay’s story needed to change in order to conform to their false maps, and also to their false beliefs about what happened on January 13, 1999. And when the cops informed Jay that the tower data said he was at Cathy’s at 4:27 and 4:58 pm, Jay conformed to the detectives’ request, spouting out a story that he had to have known was impossible nonsense, simply because that was what the cops wanted to hear.
It gets even more curious, though. Because it appears that, in between Adnan’s first and second trial, the prosecution realized there had been an error in their cell tower map. At the first trial, Jay stuck by the claim he was at Cathy’s when Adnan called him to be picked up from track:
Jay: Okay. [Adnan] decided that it was time for him to go to track practice so then I drove him to the front of the school. He left the telephone in the car, exited the car, and walked into Woodlawn High School.
KU: What did you do at that point?
Jay: I left and went to my friend [Cathy’s] house.
KU: What, if anything, did you do there?
Jay: I sat there. I smoked, they didn’t. They watched television. l was debating with do. He called, asked me to come get him from school. (12/14/99 Tr. 199.)
But by the time of the second trial, however, the prosecution had changed its tune, and seems to have realized that the 4:27 and 4:58 calls were not showing that Jay was at Cathy’s apartment at all. They were (allegedly) showing that Jay was near his house instead. Just like Jay said in his first interview.
That’s okay, though. Because when Jay’s story does not match the cellphone records, the solution, as always, is simply to change Jay’s story. Which is what the prosecution apparently did at the second trial, through the testimony of the prosecution’s expert witness, Abe Waranowitz. During direct examination, Waranowitz was questioned about whether the test calls he had made were consistent with Jay’s (new) story:
KU: Now, if there was testimony that someone had dropped someone off at school to go to track practice and the person who had the car went to G[i]lston Park, parked for a while and then went back to pick the person up, if you found — and they called at G[i]lston Park, one or more incoming calls were received by the AT&T wireless subscriber telephone and then you found cell phone records that had calls from the L654C cell site, would that functioning of the AT&T network be consistent with the testimony?
Waranowitz: Yes. (2/08/00 Tr. 102.)
Jay’s story is truly a wondrous thing. It can be consistent with the cellphone records when they are wrong, and then still be consistent even after the cellphone records have been corrected. And how could a story that is so amazingly consistent with the cellphone records have possibly been anything other than true?