Serial: Adnan Was the Prime (and Possibly Only) Suspect in Hae’s Murder Even Before the Anonymous Phone Call

Trial Transcripts: Since Rabia is out of the country at the moment, and since there are transcripts that are overdue for release, Rabia asked if I could post the next batch of transcripts:

According to Serial folklore, the reason Adnan became a suspect in Hae’s murder was all due to an anonymous call made the day after Hae’s murder was announced in the media. On February 12, 1999, at 3:19 p.m., Detective Massey received a phone call from an “Asian Male 18-21 years old[ ] who advised investigators should concentrate on the victim’s boyfriend.” It was only after this phone call that the police began to zero in on Adnan as a suspect.

Or so the story goes. The police files, however, tell a different story. They indicate that Adnan was already a suspect before the anonymous call ever came in. In fact, the police files indicate that Adnan was the only suspect that was ever considered. As of February 11th, the police already seem to have decided that Adnan was responsible for Hae’s murder.

The Curious Case of Mr. A and the February 11th Printout

The earliest indication that the police were investigating Adnan comes from a one-page printout of a motor vehicle database search. The search had pulled up registration details for Adnan’s Honda Accord, and the time stamp and terminal ID on the printout show that it was generated on a a computer in the Woodlawn police station on February 11, 1999, a little after 8:00 pm.

On the same evening that the printout was made, a man had walked into the Woodlawn police station to report that he had witnessed something he believed to be connected to Hae’s murder. The man — “Mr. A” — told the police that had seen suspicious activity while in Leakin Park, and that he “had heard of the recovery of a woman’s body in Leakin Park on the TV news and wanted to help.” The officers at the Woodlawn station called the Homicide Unit down in Baltimore, since the city now had jurisdiction over the offense. Detective Ritz and Sergeant Lehmann drove out to Woodlawn to talk to Mr. A, arriving at the station at 9:45 pm. According to Lehmann’s report of the interview, Mr. A told them that he had observed

a [young black  male] driving a light colored automobile while in Leakin Park . . . acting suspicious near the concrete barriers blocking southbound traffic onto Weatheredsville Road from Windsor Mill Road, which is approximately a mile from the site of the victim’s recovery.

Lehmann’s report then summarily concluded that “investigators believe that this observance is not connected to the murder of Hae Lee.” However, Lehmann provided no indication whatsoever as to why the investigators believed that Mr. A’s report was not connected to Hae’s murder. Lehmann’s summary report also omits a number of crucial details about the interview with Mr. A, including (1) the date and time that Mr. A had seen this “suspicious” activity, (2) what the suspicious activity consisted of, and why exactly it had struck him as suspicious, or (3) why he thought that this event might have been connected to Hae’s murder.

As a result, the report itself provides no basis from which Mr. A’s story can be discredited, or from which it can be concluded that it is irrelevant to Hae’s murder. Based on the timing of his report, Mr. A probably went to the police station immediately after learning that Hae’s body had been found in Leakin Park. Although Hae’s body had been found on Tuesday, February 9th, it was not reported until the evening of Thursday, February 11th, when the story was covered in the evening news (such as in the media segment shown here). The timing of Mr. A’s report would therefore suggest that he had high level of confidence in the importance of what he had seen. After seeing a TV segment on a body being found in Leakin Park, he remembered the incident that he had observed, and — without delay — he immediately drove down to the police station to report what he had seen.

So what exactly caused the officers to reject his report as unrelated to the murder? The location of the suspicious activity that Mr. A reported cannot explain the officers’ dismissal of his story. Although it took place a mile away from where Hae’s body was found, it was a location that would have been an ideal spot to check out, for anyone who might be scouting out Leakin Park for a place to bury a body:

Weatheredsville and Windsor

Google Street View of “southbound [ ] onto Weatheredsville Road from Windsor Mill Road.” Note that the concrete barriers referenced in Mr. A’s report were subsequently replaced with the yellow gate shown in this image.

Although Windsor Mill, like N. Franklintown, is a busy by-pass road with significant traffic volume, Weatheredsville is blocked off from the public, and has no traffic at all. Although there were concrete barriers in place to bar vehicles from getting through, if someone could have gotten around the barriers they would have been rewarded with access to a highly secluded, half-mile stretch of road in the middle of Leakin Park, with no traffic whatsoever. A perfect location for body burying — or at least as perfect as it is going to get in Leakin Park. Perfect, that is, if you can get around the concrete barriers to access the road. (And perhaps that is precisely what Mr. A saw — someone trying to get around the concrete barriers could also explain why Mr. A thought the young man he saw was “behaving in a suspicious manner.”)

If the location of the activity can’t explain why the police rejected Mr. A’s witness report, then perhaps instead it was the date on which Mr. A observed the activity that caused the police to dismiss his story. But if so, why would Sergeant Lehmann not have included that detail in his report? Besides, at this point, the police had no idea if Hae’s body had been the park for one week or four — if Mr. A had observed this any time between January 13th and February 8th, then it could have been related to the murder, and should have at least been investigated further before being dismissed out of hand.

So what was it then? Well, Lehmann’s sparse report does include two details from Mr. A’s statement which could explain why investigators rejected his story as irrelevant: Mr. A saw a “black male” who was driving a “light colored” car. If the police had already established that a Pakistani male driving a dark colored car was responsible for the crime, then Mr. A’s report would be irrelevant to the investigation, and could safely be dismissed as an unrelated occurrence.

The printout from the MVA database indicates that Mr. A’s description of the car was, at least, one of the reasons that his report was rejected:

MVA Report - Honda - 2-11-99

Printout from MVA database, showing that on February 11, 1999 at 8:06 p.m., someone using in the Woodlawn precinct pulled up the vehicle registration records for Adnan’s 87 Honda Accord.


The scan of this document makes it a little hard to read, but the second line provides the VIN for the car — which, with a VIN decoder, the officers could use to look up the color of Adnan’s car.

While it isn’t odd that the police would have had a copy of Adnan’s vehicle registration records in their case file, what is odd is the date and time on which this registration record was obtained: February 11, 1999, at 8:06 pm. The scanner quality of the printout is not great, but a comparison between this printout and another printout — which uses an identical font and was also created on February 11, 1999 — shows that the printout of the Honda Accord’s registration details had in fact been done on February 11th as well. (The blue pixels represent the tag printout, and are overlaid on the date taken fro the sample printout.)

MVA Printout - Date Comparison - 2-11-99

(And yes — for the record, I did compare the numbers on the tag printout with every other possible combination. The result was that the only number combination that matches is “021199.”)

From reviewing the rest of the police files, the time stamp on this printout is further evidence that the search of Adnan’s vehicle records was not something that had been pulled up as a routine matter. Every other printout in Adnan’s case file was made during normal business hours, from 9am to 5pm — so why, then, was a police officer printing out Adnan’s vehicle registration at 8pm on a Thursday evening? This indicates that the printout was generated in response to a particular event, and that an officer had been prompted at that time to look up the information, rather than for the purpose of making routine updates to a case file.

An event such as, for example, Mr. A’s walk-in report at the police station. We do not know what time he arrived at the Woodlawn stationhouse, but if his police report was prompted by an early evening news segment about Hae’s body being discovered in Leakin Park, then sometime around 8 p.m. would make sense. Although Lehmann’s report indicates that he and Ritz did not arrive at the Woodlawn station until 9:45 p.m., Mr. A could easily have arrived into the station a couple hours earlier in the evening — particularly if the Baltimore County officers had interviewed Mr. A themselves first before notifying the Homicide Unit. It would have also taken Lehmann and Ritz some time before they could have arrived at the Woodlawn station to interview Mr. A themselves, particularly as Ritz and MacGillivary appear to have been working a day shift at that time, and probably had to be contacted during their off hours to be notified of the witness.

Unfortunately for the Detective Ritz, the witness report turned out to be a dud. Mr. A saw a young black guy in a light car, but their suspect was a young Pakistani guy in a brown or black car. Ergo, what Mr. A saw could not have been related to Hae’s murder. Yes, Hae’s car could be described as “light colored” — but at this stage of the investigation, the detectives had never heard of the “trunk pop” story. As later documents indicate, the police seemed to have believed that it was Adnan’s car, not Hae’s car, that had been used to transport the body. (See, i.e., the vehicle processing report for Adnan’s car, noting that “Suspect along with witness used the vehicle to aid in the transport . . . of the victim’s body in the trunk section of auto.”). This would explain, then, the easy dismissal of Mr. A’s account: the investigators didn’t need to hear anything more from him, because what he had seen in Leakin Park had been the wrong car driven by someone of the wrong race.

Without knowing what time Mr. A arrived at the station, the connection between the tag printout’s timestamp and Mr. A’s police report cannot be conclusively shown. (Although a records request directed to the Baltimore County policy might go a long way to resolving the question.) Still, regardless of the exact timing, the fact remains that a police officer was investigating the details of Adnan’s car at 8 p.m. on a Thursday, only two days after Hae’s body was found — and why would the officer have done so, if Adnan was not a suspect? But why would Adnan have been a suspect on February 11th, when no anonymous phone call had yet been made implicating him in Hae’s murder?

One theory: although unpreserved in the documentary record, a request for Adnan’s cellphone records had already been made, which had alerted investigators to the existence of the two Leakin Park phone calls.

Following the Subpoena Trail, or, How the Investigators Came to Be in Possession of Adnan’s Cellphone Records Without Ever Issuing a Subpoena 

According to Serial, the detectives did not subpoena Adnan’s cellphone records until February 18, 1999, over a week after Hae’s body had been found in Leakin Park. This version of events, as told in the podcast, matches the “official” story of the investigation — that is, it matches the story of the investigation that was disclosed to the defense counsel.

But the police files produced in response to the 2014 MPIA request show that the first subpoena for cellphone records was not issued on February 18th, as the documents given to defense counsel claimed, but had instead been issued two days previously, on February 16th. Moreover, the files also show that, at the time this first subpoena was issued on February 16th, the police were — inexplicably — already in possession of at least some of Adnan’s cellphone records, despite the absence of any documentation concerning the source of this information.

In the state’s production of documents to Adnan’s defense counsel, the state included two police reports concerning subpoenas issued to Adnan’s cellphone provider. Those reports indicate that the first subpoena for cellphone records had been issued on February 18, 1999. In a Progress Report dated 2/18/99, MacGillivary wrote that:

On 18 February 1999, your investigator along with Detective William Ritz obtained a subpoena for the cell phone records of one Adnan Syed telephone # 410-253-9023 from Sgt. Michael Cannon H.l.D.T.F. The subpoena will be delivered on 19 February 1999 to Bell Atlantic Mobile Security, Cockeysville, Maryland.

In a second Progress Report, dated 2/20/99, MacGillivary wrote that a (second?) subpoena had also been served two days later, on February 20th:

In furtherance of the above captioned investigation, on 20 February 1999 at 1115 hours, this writer faxed a subpoena and court order to AT&T Wireless Communications, located 801 North Point Parkway, West Palm Beach, Florida 33407, (fax# 1-888-938-4715). The court orders request that AT&T Wireless provide this investigator with the cell site locations of calls that were made from telephone number (443) 253-9023 [Adnan’s cellphone number] during the time span of January 1, 1999 to present. This writer also asked that a directory of cell site locations associated with the requested information be provided for proper interpretation.

These Progress Reports were inaccurate and misleading, however. They do not indicate (and in fact, seem to be obfuscating) the existence of the prior 2/16/99 subpoena, in response to which AT&T had produced on February 17th Adnan’s subscriber information and call records:

Grand Jury Subpoena - 2-16-99

Moreover, although the undisclosed 2/16/99 subpoena is the first documented request for cellphone records that is contained in the police file, the wording of the subpoena indicates that it was not the first ever request for cellphone records that investigators had made. Note the section of the subpoena in bold below:

You are therefore directed this 16th day of February, 1999, to furnish the name(s) address(s) for the following telephone number and (13) cell site locations, from January 1999 to present.

The investigators wanted addresses for “13 cell site locations.” This would indicate that, at the time the 2/16/99 subpoena was issued, the investigators already had information concerning Adnan’s cellphone records, including tower data, because on the day of Hae’s murder, Adnan’s cellphone made calls on 13 separate antennas. But how did the investigators know that on February 16th, when no documentation exists indicating a request had already been made to AT&T at that time, or that AT&T had produced documents in response to such a request?

To me, it looks a lot like someone in the Homicide Unit had already made some unofficial requests for cellphone data, and the phone company had obliged, even in lieu of a formal subpoena requesting production of that data. Perhaps it was something done over the phone, or through a contact in another government agency, but — somehow — the investigators seem to have known only about the significance of Adnan’s cellphone location data only few days after Hae’s body had been found.

The records in the MPIA files also suggest that investigators made an effort to camouflage the fact that previous requests for cellphone location data had been made. Let’s take a look back at the Progress Reports that were disclosed to defense counsel. In the first one, the 2/18/99 Progress Report, MacGillivary wrote, “On 18 February 1999, your investigator along with Detective William Ritz obtained a subpoena for the cell phone records of one Adnan Syed.” This is not an accurate statement. It also creates the (false) impression that the 2/18/99 subpoena was the first records request submitted by investigators. In fact, not only was the 2/18/99 subpoena not the first request for cellphone records that had been submitted by the investigation, it was not even a request for Adnan’s cellphone records at all! Instead, it was a request for the subscriber information for the people that Adnan’s cellphone had called.

DEA Subpoena - 2-18-99

The 2/18/99 subpoena. Numbers listed correspond to outgoing calls made by Adnan’s cellphone on January 12 – 14, 1999.

Note: MacGillivary seems to have been calling in a favor from someone with the Drug Enforcement Administration, because the subpoena was issued by the DEA, and not through the channels used by Maryland state agencies. The information requested in that subpoena, however, is clearly not Adnan’s cellphone records, as the 2/18/99 Progress Report describes — instead, it is a subpoena for the subscriber data of almost everyone that was called by Adnan’s phone on January 12th, 13th, and 14th. (Not all numbers called by Adnan’s phone are included in this subpoena, however. Intriguingly, Jenn’s home phone number is not included in this subpoena. Police notes also show that the investigators already knew who Jenn’s home phone number belonged to prior to the 2/18/99 subpoena.)

So why did MacGillivary incorrectly describe the 2/18/99 subpoena as “a subpoena for the cell phone records of one Adnan Syed”? It could be sloppy paperwork; nothing more than the result of an oversight, due to confusion with the February 16th subpoena, which did request Adnan’s cellphone records. But MacGillivary should have known that, as of February 17, 1999, AT&T had already faxed the Homicide Unit the subscriber information and call logs from Adnan’s cellphone — the 2/18/99 subpoena could not have been for Adnan’s cellphone records, when those had been sent over the day before. Here is the front page of the cellphone records sent to the Homicide Unit by AT&T on February 17th:

ATT - Subscriber Info, Adrian M Syedd

In addition to the subscriber information above, the fax records sent by AT&T on February 17th also included a record of all outgoing and incoming calls made from Adnan’s cellphone from January 11th through February 16th — but as I’ve discussed in a previous post, the location data for those records had been redacted. Now, it is possible that AT&T was responsible for those redactions, because on February 20th, a third subpoena is issued — this time with a court order compelling AT&T’s compliance. (Note: The fax record for the 2/20/99 subpoena show that it was sent at 11:15 a.m. on February 20th, which means this was the same subpoena that MacGillivary references in the 2/20/99 Progress Report.) This suggests that a court order was in fact needed to obtain the location data, and AT&T may have redacted the February 17th records.

But here is the problem with that scenario: if AT&T was responsible for the redaction of the starting and ending tower location data in the 2/17/99 records, then why does MacGillivary’s fax cover to the 2/20/99 subpoena indicate that he already possessed the cell site location data?

Fax - Subpoena - 2-20-00

“Please include a cell site directory that corresponds with the sites listed.” In other words: MacGillivary already possessed a list of cell sites that Adnan’s phone made calls on. The Homicide Unit had already been given cell site information as of February 20th (although they seem to have lacked the directory which provided the addresses for those cell sites). But the only cell site records in the police file that pre-date February 20th look like this:

ATT Production - 2-17-99

Although the redaction in blue (on the left, redacting phone numbers) was done by me, the redaction in black (on the right, redacting cell sites) was done by hand on a paper copy of the document; no unredacted version exists in the files. Yes, this particular copy of the cell records may have already been redacted when AT&T faxed it over on 2/17/99 — but if so, then where is the unredacted cell site location data that the investigators did have possession of on February 20th, as shown by both MacGillivary’s 2/20/99 fax cover and the 2/16/99 subpoena? Whether or not AT&T redacted this particular document, there should be, somewhere, a document that contains unredacted cell site data for at least some of Adnan’s cellphone records, which pre-dates February 20th. So where is it?

This is potentially a Big Deal. If the unredacted version of the 2/17/99 fax from AT&T showed, for instance, that one of the “Leakin Park calls” had originated on a tower miles away from Leakin Park, that would be exculpatory. It would show, at a minimum, that there would be no reason to believe the cellphone was in Leakin Park, as opposed to somewhere closer to another tower the call had connected through.

The Story of Adrian Syedd’s Traffic Violation, and Why It May Indicate That Investigators Had Adnan’s Cellphone Records Before Any Formal Request Was Made

In addition to the subpoenas themselves, there is another piece of evidence that suggests investigators had obtained Adnan’s cellphone records before any documented request for that data had been submitted. That evidence comes from the Maryland court records, which show that Adnan was issued a citation for a traffic violation on February 15, 1999. However, circumstantial evidence from the police files indicates that this traffic stop may in fact have been connected to the murder investigation, and, more specifically, to the investigators’ efforts to obtain his cellphone records.

First, on February 14, 1999, the police checked Adnan’s records on the MVA database once again. This time, rather than pulling up information based on Adnan’s vehicle registration, the police pulled up Adnan’s records based on his driver’s license:

MVA Report - 2-14-99

On its own, this search is easily explainable based on the fact that, a couple days before, an anonymous call and been made implicating Adnan in Hae’s murder. It is not odd that Adnan’s driving history would have been pulled at some point, and added to the case file. The timing of this search, however, suggests that the police had a specific motivation for searching Adnan’s MVA records on that date, as the following day — February 15th — Adnan was pulled over for a seatbelt violation:

Adrian Masud Syed - Violation Record - 2-15-99

I wouldn’t have questioned whether this routine traffic stop was, in fact, simply a routine traffic stop, if it were not for one glaring error in the record: the police officer who made the traffic stop issued the citation not to “Adnan Syed,” but to “Adrian Syed” instead. Although the license plate indicates that this was in fact Adnan’s car that had been pulled over, both the street address an Adnan’s name are incorrect.

In regards to the misnomer, this was not the first time that this particular error has been made. It was the second. The first time was in Adnan’s cellphone records, in which AT&T had mistakenly recorded his name as Adrian Syedd:

Adrian Syed

The source of the error, in the context of the AT&T billing records, could be a result of AT&T’s billing software mistakenly misreading the first “n” in Adnan as “ri.” (This appears to be a potential problem that could still occur today — if I search my notes for the term ‘Adrian,’ I pull up about a hundred instances in which ‘Adnan’ is typed in a screenclipped image.) The error makes less sense in the context of a traffic citation, but maybe it could happen. What are the odds, though, that when Adnan was pulled over for a traffic violation just two days after becoming a suspect in a murder investigation, the police officer who issued the citation would make the exact same odd spelling error that was made on Adnan’s cellphone records — which the police would (officially) obtain from AT&T two days later, on February 17?

Instead of a coincidence, though, it could be an indication of a connection between the cellphone records and the traffic stop. The error in the cellphone records could potentially have been both motivation for the traffic stop, and the cause of the naming error — if, say, the traffic stop was used as a way to confirm Adnan’s possession of the cellphone associated with the records that had been  provided by AT&T.

If the investigators had somehow obtained Adnan’s cellphone data through the use of “unofficial channels,” then the fact that the subscriber information for those records was not listed under Adnan’s real name would have been the cause of some concern among the investigators. Because the records from AT&T were for someone named “Adrian Syedd,” and not for someone named “Adnan Syed,” the investigators may have needed confirmation that the subscriber data they had obtained did, in fact, belong to the suspect in their murder investigation. But, since this hypothetical cellphone data would not have come from official sources (no subpoenas had been issued yet), how could the investigators have proven that the cellphone records were for Adnan’s phone, without using “official” channels? In other words, how could they unofficially verify the accuracy of their unofficial records?

Pulling Adnan over for a traffic stop, and having someone make a call to his cellphone while that officer watched, would be one way of doing that. That would allow investigators to confirm that the cellphone records they had pulled did belong to the cellphone owned by their suspect (instead of by some unknown relative named Adrian). In support of this theory, there was in fact a brief incoming call made to Adnan’s phone at 12:11 p.m. — the same time listed as the time of the traffic citation.

2-15-99 - Call 14 - 1211 pm

If the scenario outlined here is what actually occurred, then the investigators’ testing would appear to have been a successful one, as the following day, on February 16, an official subpoena for Adnan’s cellphone records was issued by the grand jury. The investigators appear to have obtained whatever information they needed to proceed with an official request for Adnan’s cellphone records. The officer who made the traffic stop may have slipped up, however — and rather than writing down the traffic offender’s name as it was shown on his driver’s license, he wrote down the false name displayed on the cellphone records he was attempting to verify.

What All of This May Mean

From a review of the subpoenas and cell record data, it looks like: (1) the investigators had cell record data of an undisclosed nature and from an undisclosed source; (2) the investigators had identified Adnan as their suspect before any (disclosed) evidence  implicating him in the murder had been uncovered; and (3) MacGillivary had contacts with the Drug Enforcement Administration — an agency that was an early trailblazer in the use of cellphone location data as an investigative tool for law enforcement.

There are a few different things this could mean, but the question all of that raises for me is this: could Adnan have been identified as a suspect as a result of a warantless cell tower dump on L689?


155 thoughts on “Serial: Adnan Was the Prime (and Possibly Only) Suspect in Hae’s Murder Even Before the Anonymous Phone Call

  1. the question all of that raises for me is this: could Adnan have been identified as a suspect as a result of a warantless cell tower dump on L689?

    What would the legal implications of this be?

    • By itself, likely little. Although I am very curious to learn why they had zeroed in on Adnan as their suspect before they had any evidence to support that hunch, it is very possible that, if the investigators did make a pre-2/16/99 request for phone records, the request itself was not improper, or at least was not improper as the law was understood in 1999. (The statutory requirements for requesting tower dumps is still unsettled today, for example.)

      So there’s no Fourth Amendment issue here, and probably not any real statutory issue worth sneezing at either (again, based on the status of the law in 1999). Any potential issues would fall under the Fifth Amendment, depending on what the investigators may have obtained — and subsequently failed to disclose.

      • Susan – I keep going back to what the motivation is for the police to orchestrate all this unofficial, “pre-meditated” investigation? Don’s father was a police officer (per Rabia’s blog). I haven’t been able to shake that bit of information. Who else to naturally point to than the ex-boyfriend to cover up his son’s involvement (all while using Jay as a pawn)?

        • I think about Don too sometimes. Is there more publically available info on his alibi? Just having your time card swiped in and out of work as well as your mom vouch for you isn’t terribly compelling. The detectives would certainly look at him as an early suspect (for the same reason they looked at Adnan).

          Also, for Don (or anyone not associated with Jay or Adnan), the following has to be true:
          1. The police are willing to risk their careers, and disregard any sense of morality, to feed a teenager all verifiable evidence to make a case against Adnan solely b/c “they think he did it.” For this reason, it’s almost certain that Jay really did know the location of Hae’s car or at least some information that proved to them that he was somehow involved. re: Don’s father being a police officer, it is almost inconceivable that two Baltimore City detectives are going to jeopardize their careers, their reputations, their pensions, etc. to save the skin of a Harford County police officer’s son. To City cops, Harford County cops are basically security guards, and to a City detective…
          2. Jay would have to be willing to go along with this scheme and put an innocent person in jail simply b/c there’s a chance the police will look at him as a suspect. (thought this is more possible if for some reason Jay thinks Adnan killed Hae when he didn’t–e.g. he had been blowing off steam and had been throwing around hyperbole “I’m going to kill that..”
          3. Jay would somehow have to convince Stephanie that this was all true as well, since she and Adnan were close friends and they stayed together well after the trial.

          This is what makes the Innocence Project angle so bizarre to me, and made for the most memorable quote for the podcast. When Sarah Koenig asks the IP director how Jay can be explained in the director’s “known killer released from jail” theory, she mockingly recounts the response of “Big Picture Sarah, Big Picture…”

          • Did you have a chance to read Susan’s older posts? Also, have you read the interview Diedre Enright had with TIME?

          • My2Cents
            I just read the “Time” piece and it says absolutely nothing new. Ms. Enright is hopeful that DNA testing will point to someone like Roy Davis or Ronald Lee Moore. There is no realistic possibility that Jay is somehow connected to Ronald Lee Moore and next to no realistic possibility that he’s connected to Roy Davis. What’s a realistic scenario for the Davis/Moore murder, Jay cover-up, and people out to get him at the video store theory? A deranged rapist murders an innocent young woman, goes and tells his buddies and they somehow put together that Jay knows the victim, and they force him into fabricating a story that blames Adnan? Possible I guess, as in the way “anything’s possible.” But most drug dealers, criminals, etc. aren’t “cool” with deranged rapists murdering innocent high school girls, and aren’t going to go out of their way to protect them. Also, Ms. Enright’s idea of “then why is Jay so scared at the video store” regarding this theory is backwards. Why would Jay be so scared of the people connected to the “real” killer coming after him. They need Jay to get to the Police and feed them this BS story to cover up the real story. Why would they get him involved to cover up the crime and then kill him so he can’t cover up the crime?

            Is it worth testing the DNA evidence? Absolutely. Very little cost with potential for a huge benefit. And there is a small but slightly better chance that Jay and someone else were involved in the murder and the DNA could match that second person. Note that my points above related to “the killer having no connection to Jay.”

            I think Ms. Enright is doing good work, but her strengths seem to be energy, enthusiasm, dedication, and like Sarah Koenig mentioned, optimism. Her weakness seems to be more in the area of logic/rationality–at least regarding this case. In addition to failing to account for the Jay connection she also throws out the idea of “who’s more likely to kill Hae Lee, little ol’ sweetheart Adnan, or this sexual deviant murderer?” Well statistically, the answer is Adnan. Most women are murdered by people they know and usually men they’ve been in an intimate relationship with, not random serial killers.

        • Don’s father is not a police officer, a number of people initially identified the wrong Don early in the podcast, which is where Rabia got the information, not originally from the case itself. Rabia’s blog has not been updated with the current information.

          • anonymous Jay is linked to ROy Davis through his uncle and also woodlawn high

          • Patricia,
            It is very plausible that Roy D has a connection to Jay’s uncle, or other other family members, but have you seen a documented connection? Do both names show up on a police file? Also what is the Roy Davis / Woodlawn connection?


        • The only explanation we need for why these cops would risk their careers, etc to falsely present a case they knew to be weak, at best, is that they’ve done it before and are therefore clearly willing. Ritz, Lehmann, and Van Gelder (a medical examiner in Adnan’s case) all conspired to falsify evidence against at least one other boyfriend they convicted and imprisoned without cause. He was exonerated just last month after 19 years in prison and they’re now being sured for having conspired to present fabricated evidence, among other things. Their motivation? A conviction. Their MO? To finger the boyfriend (because in their minds he probably did it,) make the facts fit, and disregard any so called ‘bad evidence.’

      • I think the fact the cops asked for the info of 13 cell towers is a clue they had an unofficial dump – because didn’t the maps show 14 tower addresses, implying that Adnan’s cell pinged 14 towers?

        Of course the cops wouldn’t need the 14th tower info if they already had it!

    • The police officer, more specifically the state trooper, that pulled Adnan or “Adrian” over on Feb 15 would have likely been given direction from his commander, who would have been contacted by Baltimore City police to assist if all this was as orchestrated as implied. The ‘agency name’ on the record is ‘barrack r (golden ring)’, which is the State Trooper’s barracks in the region. They patrol state roads and interstates, where the contact was made.

      It is my understanding that city detectives were leading the murder investigation. Possibly there are records requesting that assistance since the implication from SS’s post is a coordinated effort. The state troopers are fairly straight shooters (no pun intended) and would not, in my opinion, have exposed themselves so openly in public records unless they were comfortable with what was being requested. Maybe they didn’t know how the investigation arrived at the specific request from the city if city investigators did something nefarious.

      Could be something there.

    • Strange. This blogpost was actually more speculative than most of Susan’s (though her analysis was transparent and rational). I’m not sure what difference you could be referring to.

  2. Lots of “if”s.

    Pulling over a suspect and calling them to verify a cell number seems like a fairly savvy move by the police. Good on them. Circumventing the subpoena process to vet a potential murder suspect feels far more dodgy (i.e. illegal), though, I guess it should offend me far more than it actually does.

    The REAL question is “Why?”. If Adnan is innocent, why would the police go so far out of their way to go after this kid? Isn’t Jay a far easier target? I suspect, it just came down to the fact that Jay was the first to talk.

    • Jay showed up long after they had already decided Adnan was the murderer. Why would they abandon a case they were painstakingly putting together simply because a witness came forward and confirmed their pre-existing theory? Why decide to do a 160 and indict this new witness, when his testimony is exactly what they were hoping to find to make their case against Adnan?

    • Except that the whole entire point of this post is to show that they were going after Adnan long before Jay was ever the “first to talk” so that doesn’t work.

      • …. are you asking why the police would work a case by picking a suspect and then developing their hypothesis, and then start to build a case against him? Or are you asking what reason would they have for selecting Adnan in the first place?

        Well, why select any suspect in the first place? Probably some sort of hunch or gut reaction the detectives had. Maybe they looked at Don and Adnan, and decided of the two, Adnan looked more like the murdering type. LoL i mean really, who knows. To suggest that anything we’ve seen in this case rises to the level of a conscious conspiracy to convict an innocent man, is totally unnecesary.

        To paraphrase Hanlon: Don”t attribute malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. Something involving something that the detectives experienced probably made them think “hmm…. i dont like the way he said that” or god knows. I mean… every investigation has to start somewhere, right? For better or worse, they’re gut instinct and cop intuition told them to focus on Adnan.

        The problem is they then only worked on building this case, rather than finding evidence which might disprove it. Lazy? Yes. Evil? No. Two middle aged white men simply mistook confirmation bias for rational investigation. This a conspiracy does not make.

        This happens in non-police cases all the time. I’m sure you’ve seen it happen in your own life. Someone’s gut intuition tells them that the answer is X, prior to there being any kind of reliable evidence to conclude it. They then get so dead set on their initial hunch being correct, and end up with a false conclusion. People fall in love with thinking their like pre-cogs in minority report all the time. After all, is there anything more satisfying than saying “I told you so” after proving that you were right the whole time?

    • Why? Well he is an obvious suspect and in the absence of anything else it’s a good route to go down. You want to be seen to be making progress with a high profile case.

      As for the oft repeated “isn’t Jay an easier target” the only evidence against Jay is Jay. Charge him then he pleads the 5th and probably has previous interviews tossed for playing fast and loose with his Miranda rights. Then you lose your case against Adnan and your case against Jay.

  3. Thank you for your detail-oriented analysis, very interesting to read. A comment I might make is that the police probably identified Adnan as a suspect the day of the disappearance (or very, very shortly thereafter), so I don’t see why it is significant that this was true before Feb11. In, fact, I definitely expect it to be true that Adnan was a suspect (or maybe even the prime suspect) before Feb11. Why would anyone think that was not true?

    Along those lines, I am also not sure why any of the data presented here indicates that “Adnan was the only suspect that was ever considered”. There could have been plenty of ‘consideration’ from Jan13 onward of other suspects, couldn’t there have been? Wouldn’t police start with some list, then winnow it down over time, and so forth?

    Probably your main point is about the possibility of a warantless cell tower search. It illegal to a layperson such as myself, but then the links you are sharing make it sound like it is indeed happening in the world with no one being criminally charged for performing such searches. So I am not happy about that, but it seems to be allowed, although of obviously (at least) questionable ethics. Are there some other legal implications I am not understanding? (Almost certainly yes!!)

    Again, thanks for the very interesting information.

    • I agree with your initial concerns – Adnan would have been a suspect since day one, and he literally was – he was one of the first people police called on Jan-13 when Hae disappeared. It would stand to reason that he would become a prime suspect as soon as they found her body.

      It also makes sense that the cops may have disregarded Mr. A’s report since the suspicious activity was reported in a different part of the park on a road that is not directly connected to Franklintown or near the burial site. Given the park’s history and Baltimore’s general sketchiness, suspicious activity likely occurred in the park all the time. I think the leap to assuming they disregarded it b/c the suspect/car did not match Adnan’s is too large for the available facts.

      • Being one of the first people called doesn’t mean he was a suspect, unless Aisha was also a suspect. Hae wasn’t presumed to be a murder victim on Jan 13, especially not at 6:30 pm. They wanted to know if her friends had seen her, so they were calling her friends.

      • I can think of various reasons that the police could have rightly disregarded Mr. A’s report. However, they didn’t include a reason. They also neglected to include details that may have led them to the conclusion that “this observance is not connected to the murder of Hae Min Lee.”
        Off the top of my head, I can think of many questions that were likely asked in an effort to discern whether or not Mr. A’s observance was related to HML’s murder:
        When did the observance occur? What led Mr. A to view said observance as suspicious? Did the individual enter the park? If so, which direction did he appear to be heading? Did he have anything with him (bag? Shovel(s)? How long was said observance?
        I could obviously go on and on. But it is clear that some questions must have been asked, by at least one of the 6 officers named in the report, in an effort to ascertain whether or not what Mr. A saw was connected to the murder. Unfortunately, there are virtually no details about what Mr. A saw, and no details whatsoever as to how the officers reached their conclusion. As such, we can only speculate as to their reasoning.
        On it’s own, the vague nature of the report might be of little to no significance. But it’s not an isolated occurrence. It is just one of a growing number of examples that suggest a pattern of seemingly deliberate efforts to obscure possible evidence that could be viewed as beneficial to Adnan or his defense team.
        It’s certainly reasonable that Adnan was included as a suspect in HMLs disappearance and murder. What is confusing is how, and when, he became their only suspect. And why, if there was specific reasoning to reach that conclusion, there seems to have been so much sketchiness in obtaining information for investigation.

        • Additionally, how weird is it that there are at least 6 officers involved with/named on a report that has so little information on it and was deemed unrelated? I’m not familiar with police protocol so I’m wondering if someone who is can clarify?

    • Obtaining evidence illegally gets hit by the Exclusionary rule:

      The exclusionary rule is designed to exclude evidence obtained in violation of a criminal defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement personnel. If the search of a criminal suspect is unreasonable, the evidence obtained in the search will be excluded from trial.

      • What is the position if they obtain it illegally and then subsequently get it again legally (as they may have done here with the Grand Jury subpoena)? Is potentially all of the cell phone evidence tainted if anything was obtained prior to the 16th?

        • Don’t think there be much of a problem with the court as long the prosecution didn’t submit the illegally obtained evidence to the court,

          Other than that, there could be a ‘civil’ case that Syed can take against the BDP.

          Don’t know if it would be worth pursuing.

          • It does seem like they’ve completely subverted the point of privacy laws, though.

            Thank you, Susan!

          • There is no illegal evidence here or violation of the 4th amendment. Yes, it raises eyebrows in terms of the narrative the police provided to the defense, but all of this is considered business records and are covered under the Third Party Doctrine – AT&T could have freely given up EVERYTHING it had without any subpoena or court order and it would have still been legit.

            There are plenty of things to attack about this possible revelation and may end up pointing to a Brady or Jencks violation.

  4. Outstanding work as ever. I’m sad you’ve left reddit (and I can’t blame you) but its good to still read your thoughts. Best wishes.

  5. SS.

    A supoena is only used for basic CDR information (e.g. Subscriber account details, Billing Records or Account Notes),

    To get detailed CDR (e.g. In-coming & Out-going Call Detail, Cell Tower Locations – including location “pings” , Text Message content, Voice Mail content and PEN Registers)(and I take it; incoming call numbers and the names of senders) you need either a Court order or Search warrant.

    Info here:

    It should be taken for granted that the phone company will only pass over what was specified (given that they were allowed to, eg. you don’t give out location “pings” data to a subpoena request) and nothing else as the phone company could find themselves in trouble (like getting sued).

    My curiosity is: Was the ever an attempt by them to verify the supposed Best Buy call to Adnan’s phone and the other incoming calls with a court order request after Jay started telling his stories.

    Whatever their incompetency previous they had enough knowledge after their chats with Jay to properly understand how to proceed with obtaining the CDR information they required.

  6. To pile on this point, as this is not simply an academic exercise, e.g. EvidenceProf, I would have to assume that the ultimate aim is to sell the idea to the Court that so many things were wrong were wrong with the investigation and trial that the conviction is suspect, and so should be remanded for a new trial in the interest of substantial justice.

  7. Well done as always, Susan.
    Regarding the “Adrian” vs. “Adnan” naming confusion, is it possible that Adnan used “Adrian” as his “American” name? It’s not uncommon for people with foreign-sounding names to use a more American-sounding one.
    I suspect you are correct, I just want to make sure that “Adrian” wasn’t a well-known nickname.

      • IIRC, this was addressed by Bilal in the Grand Jury hearing documents. He said that this was due to a misunderstanding by an AT&T employee misunderstanding him when setting up the account. This is why it’s only seen coming from AT&T. He said he tried more than once to correct them with the proper spelling to no avail.

  8. You are so good! Nevermind a movie about Adnan; they need to make a movie about SS! I love reading your work and wait with baited breath for the next installment.

  9. While the police have made significant errors in the case, this one is a bit of a stretch. They could have dismissed the account for any number of reasons. One you mention is time. I’m unsure of your conclusion that “the police had no idea if Hae’s body had been the park for one week or four — if Mr. A had observed this any time between January 13th and February 8th, then it could have been related to the murder…” I would imagine that forensics people at the scene or even experienced detectives themselves can reliably tell if her body had been in that location undisturbed since shortly after the killing vs. put there 3 weeks later (if it were the case that the guy said the suspicious activity was “last week.”) What would be interesting to know is if the detectives were required to come up to Woodlawn once a potential witness came in, or if they only came up there b/c he had already said something to the County officer that they felt was compelling enough to follow up on.

    Also, I think this is an instance of going a step too far in one direction–the direction in this case being that the “cops are COMPLETE idiots and 100% corrupt to boot.” A direction I’ve found myself going in on occasion and wondering if they fed Jay everything, Hae’s car location included. In this case, obviously Adnan is a suspect early on–he’s the recent ex-boyfriend. It’s hard to imagine the cops not even considering the possibility that Jay did it without Adnan, especially once he starts talking to them, lying, changing his story, etc. And once all the confusion starts and they start thinking, don’t you think they’d put more weight on the “walk-in” account if it matched up at all? I even wonder sometimes if Jay told them things off the record that made them believe his basic story that Adnan killed Hae Lee, and they just let him go on these roller coaster lies to protect people with very minor roles (Jen? Patrick?), match up his account with the cell data, etc. Although it would sure be nice to interview the “walk-in” again, or better yet, get the detectives to be forthright and explain what details Jay got from them vs. actually knew himself.

    • There are detailed notes for many witness statements that are completely irrelevant in the police files. (Including a detailed report concerning the lady who told her about how God had spoken to her and told her what happened to Hae… They even wrote down the precise clothing that God told her the culprit had been wearing.) If Ritz drove out to Woodlawn on short notice at 9 p.m. in the evening, it was because he thought the witness might be significant. And if the report was dismissed for a valid reason, the detectives had a very strong interest in making sure their report reflected that.

      So why didn’t it? It doesn’t sound like you disagree that there is zero basis for dismissing the report as meritless based on the face of it. Can you think of a valid reason for a report like this not to disclose why it was deemed unrelated?

      I would imagine that forensics people at the scene or even experienced detectives themselves can reliably tell if her body had been in that location undisturbed since shortly after the killing vs. put there 3 weeks later (if it were the case that the guy said the suspicious activity was “last week.”)

      They weren’t able to pinpoint that, other than to say the burial marks didn’t seem recent. Moreover, given the lividity issue, this may not be the best example of when to rely on how the prosecution presented the experts’ testimony.

      • 1. No, I can’t “think of a valid reason for a report like this not to disclose why it was deemed unrelated.” It is strange (to a lay person like me) that there isn’t more info. Like you said, it seems reasonable that Det. Ritz had enough interest to go out there. On the other hand this idea conflicts with the “cops had blinders on at this point and were overly fixated on Adnan” idea. If he had received enough info from the officer who first talked to the “walk-in” to pique his interest, don’t you think this info would have included “young black male driving light car acting suspiciously” which is the exact info you’re claiming wouldn’t pique his interest b/c it doesn’t fit Adnan?

        2. Again, as a lay person, I don’t want to speculate too much on forensics, but I stick to my original comment. I also think it was clear to detectives that Hae Lee’s burial was fairly rushed, which would point them in the direction that she was buried not too long after being killed. B/c if you are going to dispose of a body long after a murder, you have all the time in the world to dig a decent hole, weight it down and drive it out to Loch Raven bridge or the Hanover street bridge or any other bridge around Baltimore, or at least drive the body far away from the scene of the murder.

        I think the rest of your analysis on most everything else is amazing, I just don’t agree with you on this point, or at least not to the same degree.

        • Awesome again! What can I say about Susan that has not already been said? If there ever was such a thing as Crystal Ball and someone had one, this lady would be the sole owner.
          KUDOS to you, Susan

          The more I read these blogs, the more I am convinced that Adnan had nothing to do with this crime and that Jay may at least know something about it. I am convinced that the Baltimore police involved were corrupt. Ditto for the prosecution who do not value the life of others. The poor performance of the sick defence counsel did not help Adnan’s cause, despite being stymied by the Judge and the Prosecution and the Judge who presided over this matter was complicit in the prosecution’s cause. And,of course, the sleepy jury (well maybe, not so much).
          What I keep thinking is who could have done this crime and why? Jay could have been upset if Hae was sticking her nose in his business. I don’t know if Hae had any liaisons with the underworld figures in Baltimore (no offence to the family) etc., but Diedre Enright raises some really intriguing issues in her interview with TIME. Does anyone care to comment on what else they might know?

          TIME: Tell me about finding Ronald Lee Moore?
          Enright: He was the first alternate suspect we were able to develop. And then when the police told us he had committed suicide, we thought all the better because there wouldn’t be privacy concerns about naming him [in filing for new DNA testing]. There are other people whom we have identified [as potential suspects] who are not deceased and so we aren’t naming them. In some ways, he was ideal because he had been released from prison and fit the timeframe for Hae’s murder because he had been out for 10 days when she was murdered.
          You were recorded on the podcast saying that there was always sex involved with Moore’s alleged crimes. Was there evidence of that here?
          What we know is that Hae had her clothes on, although I know her shirt and bra had been moved up. And her skirt was on but pushed up. As far as I can tell from the lab reports, they definitely did a physical evidence recovery kit where they did anal and vaginal swabs and swabs in her mouth, but they never tested any of that—which is somewhat odd. There were hairs on her body, two of which were microscopically compared to Adnan, and he was excluded and they didn’t belong to her either. Then there was this rope near her body.

      • Susan, do you know Mr. A’s name and information? Have you, or anyone looking into Adnan’s case, tried to contact him?

  10. Its no surprise that Adnan was an early-on suspect; jilted ex-boyfriend—and you’ve got to start somewhere, right?? Don was also a suspect and so was Jay. But when Jay started singing to the cops tune…we know the rest—He’s not dumb, whatever else may be said about him. Interesting find re the cell records being btained prior to going through the legal motions, but not surprising. But even this illegality won’t have an affect on the case.

    Not sure I get the Leakin Park pings… If the calls originated miles away etc. If CG had been on her game, she would have discredited both of the LP calls as compete and utterly unreliable, not to say misleading per the AT&T warning on the top of the print out. (if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit!) At least as far as the jury’s concerned those two calls are not clear evidence of whereabouts. Whether or not in reality they are is not as clear.

  11. Wow…so now we know why the prosecution never asked for any paper on the incoming calls. They already knew who was making those calls…. and what is unconscionable is those records must have provided exculpatory evidence (such as the supposed Best Buy call). Unbelievable work here Susan.

    • That’s one possibility. Without knowing what records requests were being made here, we can’t know for sure what AT&T was handing over. The investigators did have the power to obtain records of incoming calls, though, and either failed to do so or chose not to.

  12. Love your concluding remarks…

    It certainly seems not just plausible but (to me), a very compelling hypothesis – the body was recovered, the detectives somehow got a list of all cell calls on the closest tower for the day of (and perhaps day after) Hae went missing, hoping to find any hits among any of her acquaintances. I can just imagine them finding Adnan’s (or Adrian’s) phone show up in the list, and high-fiving “Bingo! Now let’s go prove it.” Perhaps it was just Adnan’s bad luck to be driving nearby using his phone on the wrong day.

    Another interesting catch on the phone call during Adnan’s traffic stop, and the coincidental mistake on the ticket.

    Perhaps you should rename your blog viewfrom221b…

  13. Wonderful work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adnan became a particular person of interest to the police on Jan. 13th. Her disappearance was unusual and by all accounts, Officer Adcock’s call to him that evening was received awkwardly. She was never seen again until her body was found and certainly her family must’ve been in contact with the police during that period after reporting her missing. Maybe her brother shared serious concerns about Adnan because from what I’ve read it sounds like he wasn’t supportive of Hae’s relationship with him. Who investigates missing persons? Detectives? The police or detectives had already examined Hae’s diary and thus were privy to her on-again-off-again relationship with Adnan and all of her troubles with him, before her body was found — right? It seems to me that if the Lee family was staying in touch with the police, and presuming there was an active missing person’s case, a picture of Adnan Syed as a suspicious person could’ve been well-formed before she turned up deceased.

  14. This is the first thing I thought of when reading this article – Parallel Construction:

    “Drug Enforcement Administration training documents released to MuckRock user C.J. Ciaramella show how the agency constructs two chains of evidence to hide surveillance programs from defense teams, prosecutors, and a public wary of domestic intelligence practices.”

    Also, this Reuters article:

    Just because they have now greatly enhanced their capabilities in this realm, that doesn’t mean they weren’t doing a more basic version of it back in the day…

    • To me, this is exactly what the records are screaming. There is a nice paper trail that has been created to show how the cops supposedly got to each step of their investigation — but it doesn’t actually add up. There are too many jumps forward without an explanation from the record as how to how the investigators arrived at a new bit of intel.

      This is why I suspect either a tower dump, an undisclosed witness, or both. If it was a tower dump, the chain went tower dump –> find Adnan’s cell number in return —> unofficial request for Adnan’s cellphone info –> verify number belonged to Adnan –> official request for cellphone info. But instead of a tower dump, there could have been a witness (someone came forward 2/9, 2/10, or 2/11, but wouldn’t go on the official record?) who implicated Adnan in a way the detectives bought hook line and sinker, and they then went straight to the unofficial request for Adnan’s info.

      Alternatively, rather than an unofficial request for cellphone info, there could have been an official request through alternative and unpreserved channels.

      For similar reasons, I believe that Jenn was the parallel construction for Jay. When the cops went to talk to Jenn, they already knew who she was, and knew that she knew Jay — even though the records they had only showed a number in her father’s name. Why would they assume Jenn, and not Mark, was the one called? How would they know that Jay was the link between Adnan and the Pusateri residence? Well, if there’d already gotten to Jay, they would have.

  15. Susan, the seatbelt violation image shows Adnan’s address. I assume his family still live there–can you redact it?

    • I think Susan mentioned that both his name and address were incorrect – so perhaps that’s why it was ‘t redacted

  16. I had a theory…

    Others have wondered (including Rabia) that perhaps Jay was a CI.

    We may be looking at the wrong person. Perhaps someone in Jay’s household was a CI (for DEA), and BCPD was encroaching on DEA’s turf by investigating Adnan and Jay.

    So DEA “hinted” at BCPD to investigate Adnan and leave Jay out of it.

    Which was basically what happened.

    Urick’s link with narcotics unit would put him in contact with the DEA quite a bit, IIRC.

    I know, sounds so conspiratorial… But it potentially explains so many things!

  17. Hint for help reading faded documents: you may already know that an old trick is to put a yellow filter over the document. Photographers use this to accent the clouds etc (so do dentists to see plaque better). U can get one at any office supply store.

  18. It doesn’t really surprise me that the cops access information through back door means and then request a subpoena afterward. I don’t work in law enforcement, but I work in an area that requests police checks and I have seen colleagues do police checks without authorization for expediency knowing that they will get the authorization later. Wrong, but unsurprising.

    The theory about the traffic stop is quite interesting. I am quite surprised that anyone has time or resources for that

  19. The most plausible explanation given existing evidence:

    Hae and Adnan talk the night before (as noted in the cell records) over something innocent but that requires her to stop by his house after school. (Maybe she wants a video tape to record her interview, maybe she doesn’t have a VCR or cable and wants Adnan to record it for her). She doesn’t mention this stop to her friends b/c a. it’s fairly trivial b. she doesn’t want people around school getting the wrong impression about her and Adnan. Adnan gets picked up by Jay after school. (Maybe this is the 2:36 call? Maybe Adnan did ask Hae for a ride home since she was going to stop by anyway and told Jay “I’ll either get a ride with Hae and you can pick me up at home, but if not, pick me up at school.” But why wouldn’t Hae just give him a ride? Maybe Adnan’s running behind, maybe they just don’t see each other after school, or maybe she doesn’t want to b/c of the same reason she doesn’t want to tell her friend she’s stopping by Adnan’s house–wrong impression). Jay picks up Adnan and they head to his house (after all, the last thing you want to do between the hour and a half between school and practice ((at school)) is to be at school. Adnan lives close to school and it’s very likely he went back home regularly before practice to use the bathroom ((BCPS bathrooms are disgusting)) get food ((he’s a teenage boy with a teenage boy appetite)), and pick up his gear for track). No one is home, so Jay comes in to hang out, eat, smoke, or just kill time while Adnan is getting his gear together. Maybe Adnan thinks Hae flaked on him, maybe not, but either way she shows up. She doesn’t like Jay, she doesn’t like Adnan smoking so much pot after school or the fact that he is spending so much time with Jay, so Jay hides out in Adnan’s room or maybe he’s not hiding so much as just hanging out in the basement b/c he has no interest in seeing Hae. Either way Hae doesn’t know Jay is there. (note: this same theory is also possible with Jay or someone else having dropped off Adnan and Jay coming to pick him up later). Adnan and Hae get into an argument. She’s pushing him. He get’s pissed and shoves her back. She trips, smacks her head against the wall, is knocked unconscious, lands and smacks the back of her head on the ground. Adnan is freaked out, doesn’t know what to do. Jay enters the scene. He’s high, maybe he’s coked up, maybe he’s just crazy, but he doesn’t like Hae to begin with and he’s already worried that she’s going to break up him and Stephanie. He says he’ll take care of it and he’ll kill her. Adnan is so freaked out by all of this that he just leaves the room in shock. Jay puts on some red gloves to reduce evidence and strangles her to death. Now they’ve got a dead body but can’t get it out of the house since it’s daylight, so they lay it out hidden somewhere in the house. But they do have to get rid of Hae’s car and Adnan does have to get back to track practice to avoid suspicion. Jay drops him off and starts calling around to get the car moved–hence Jen, Patrick, Phil, whomever’s involvement that Jay is trying to cover for and accounts for a big chunk of his story changing. They move the body when the family is at the mosque for Ramadan that night and Jay or Adnan buries it. Jay tells the cops the false story but realizes that it’s going to look fishy when there’s no evidence in Hae’s car. He goes back to Hae’s car, breaks the turn signal, and throws in the bizarrely specific detail about the turn signal breaking off in the struggle during his second interview.

    In this scenario: 1. Jay has enough info to make the cops sure he was involved, but no obvious motive. The cops even wonder if Adnan paid Jay to kill her or if Jay is involved more than he’s saying. But they don’t really care. They’re convinced Adnan has the motive and is guilty and is willing to let Jay off to clear their case.

    2. Adnan has enough reason to be pissed at Jay (“you’re pathetic”), but really can’t fess up and say what really happened. Plus he knows that the story Jay has told the cops is so bizarre and incorrect that he thinks there’s a good chance of getting off completely.

    3. It also explains Adnan’s sincerity. He knows he made a big mistake, but 15 yeares later thinks he’s paid enough, blames Jay, and even has deluded himself that it’s less his fault and much more Jay’s than it is. It’s easy to be sincere when you’ve convinced yourself the details don’t matter b/c of moral justification.

    4. Finally, it explains that while Jay might be crazy enough to kill someone without premeditation, he isn’t sociopathic enough to pin it on an entirely innocent person. Further, he likely blames Adnan more than is rational for getting him involved.

    This theory specifically accounts for:

    1. All of the evidence that points to her being killed inside.

    2. The fact that her body was laid flat for a while before being buried

    3. All of the evidence that it wasn’t premeditated

    This theory is easily dismissed if:

    It can be verified someone was at Adnan’s house from 2:30-3:30ish

      • Plenty of speculation–absolutely. Again, it’s only the most plausible scenario that isn’t ripped apart by the evidence available.

        • not at all plausible. reading is fundamental. adnan’s mom ran a day care out of the home, the brother would have been home. there is no evidence that Jay was ever in the Syed home.

          • 1. Where did you read about Mrs. Syed’s in-home daycare? I’m not saying it’s not true, but you’re right, I’ve never read it.

            2. Why would Adnan’s little brother be home? He was in elementary school at the time. The elementary schools’ dismissals are an hour later than the high schools. He would have gotten out at 3:15 and been home at 3:30 at the earliest if his mom or someone else picked him up, and probably closer to 4:00 if he rode the bus.

            3. There is no evidence that Jay (or Adnan or anyone else) were anywhere when Hae Lee was murdered. That’s kind of the reason you have to theorize as to the most likely places. All the information about Hae’s shoes points to her being murdered inside. Further, theorizing that someone would plan to strangle someone, during the middle of the day, around woodlawn, or that someone is so upset in the heat of the moment that they take several minutes to strangle someone in a car at 3:00PM and simply aren’t concerned that someone will see them are much bigger leaps than assuming something like maybe Adnan’s mom works, maybe she was out running errands before picking up her brother at 3:15, etc.

            And again, the same scenario at Stephanie’s house, with Stephanie in the role of Adnan would be a close second.

          • And I think the third most likely place would be Hae’s own house. If Ms. Simpson gives any credence to the idea that Hae was murdered in the house of someone she knew, maybe she could ask Ms. Chaudry if she has any insight into the likelihood of anyone being home at the houses of: Adnan, Stephanie, Hae, and any other likely places.

    • This is “the most plausible explanation”??

      The only detail you left out is exactly what Jay and Adnan had to eat while they were at the house. Wait… maybe they ordered pizza and the pizza delivery guy is the real killer, but Adnan and Jay are so terrified of this guy they’re both afraid to tell the truth…

          • Ahhh, now it all makes sense!

            You certainly have a vivid imagination. Hopefully we will find out what actually happened that day, but regardless you may have a future as a screenwriter. 🙂

      • So what makes this scenario not very plausible OR what is a more plausible scenario? Maybe the details are getting in the way, so to keep it simple:
        Jay and Adnan are at Adnan’s after school. Hae shows up. She doesn’t know Jay is there. Hae and Adnan get into a fight. Adnan shoves her. She hits her head and loses consciousness. Adnan panics. Jay strangles her. They hide the body until the family is out that night at the Mosque. Adnan goes back to school and Jay takes care of moving Hae’s car with help from Jen or Phil or Patrick.

        • I call B.S.. Adnan had a younger brother who would have been home from school. I don’t buy your version that Adnan (a non violent person by all accounts) would kill anyone at his home. Plus, in the 1990s cell phone calls were CRAZY expensive unless you called during a window in the evening through the early morning. Jay took advantage of Adnan’s phone for “free calls” while Adnan was at school/Woodlawn public Library and track practice to rack up a huge phone bill calling his circle of friends. Adnan had just gotten his cell phone the day before and would have been acutely aware of the timing of his calls. He called a few girls that day after 9:00pm.

          • 1. Re-read. Jay kills Hae, not Adnan.
            2. My first cell contract was ~ 2000 and I remember it being pretty typical. You got a relatively small number of free “daytime” minutes and a much greater number of free minutes on nights (and maybe weekends too?). Usage was only charged after the allotted minutes ran out.
            3. You’re right, Adnan calling Nisha a couple times that night makes it seem like he is doing something normal under what would be very abnormal circumstances.

            I’ve also considered the above scenario at Stephanie’s with Stephanie in place of Adnan, but run into bigger leaps there.

    • “get food ((he’s a teenage boy with a teenage boy appetite))”.

      ’twas Ramadan and he was fasting during the day. You are speculated he intended to or did break his fast with no evidence.

    • Wow, this entire theory is sure out of left field, and completely implausible. No witness testimony or physical evidence remotely supports it. You honestly think Adnan left a dead body in his own house and skipped off to track practice for a few hours?

  20. Very interesting stuff as always! But I think there are a few holes in your theory (elegant as it is) that the cops pulled Adnan over on 2/15 in an attempt to verify his cell phone number. According to the court record you provide, the stop was made by a MD state trooper on southbound I-95, with the seatbelt violation listed as the only offense. Even if you could explain how a couple of Baltimore city detectives could coordinate with a state trooper to pull Adnan over and then radio to them that he had him, then have someone call Adnan and see if he picks up, how do you explain how they knew where Adnan was? The listed location is miles from his house (tho maybe not coincidentally, it’s on the way to Silver Spring), so did they tail him? They would have had to follow him for miles then radio his location to the trooper who was in cahoots with them.

    Also, if they were gonna pull him over for a seat belt violation (as opposed to using something like speeding, which they might have to wait for him to get on the highway to do), why not just have a Baltimore cop pull him over on a city street on his way to the expressway? Ironically, the court records also shows he failed to appear for his april court date. I guess being in jail for 1st degree murder charges is no excuse.

    • And yet the violation is alleged to have occurred near Towson, and the location code matches. Odd, no?

      Whether it was to verify cellphone records or not, something odd was going on with that traffic stop.

      Anyway, if I ever get issued a ticket that gets my name wrong, gets my address wrong, has the hearing held in the wrong court, and is scheduled for a date that I’m in jail on a murder charge based on bogus evidence, I’m not showing up either.

      • The court document says the stop occurred on Southbound 95 near I-195 which is near the airport and Patapsco State Park (and not terribly far from Woodlawn). The courthouse is in Towson. Does it say the violation occurred in Towson somewhere else that I am missing?

        On one hand I agree that getting the state police involved seems unnecessary, on the other hand, having lived in Baltimore for 25 years, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Trooper pulling over someone solely for a seatbelt violation. The norm would be to get pulled over for speeding (State Troopers main responsibility is to set up speed traps along the interstates) and have the seatbelt violation tacked on. Though it isn’t unheard of to get pulled over for speeding, a cop giving a little leniency and writing up the violation for something smaller. Especially if the person pulled over for speeding isn’t caught in a speed trap. The police hate to waste their time heading to traffic court for a single ticket and would rather the person just pay the fine for something smaller.

          • OK now I’m confused. I have spent the majority of my life in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. So we’re on the same page. Towson is the “county seat” of Baltimore County. Catonsville, Woodlawn, etc. are distinct areas also in Baltimore County.

            While misleading, I’m pretty sure where “(Towson)” appears after “Violation County” is either just a default or it refers to the courthouse assigned, not a specific location of the violation which is filled out farther down on the document.
            I’m also under the impression that District 8 refers to Baltimore County and Location 4 refers to the Towson Courthouse. I’m almost positive of the former, the latter more of an assumption.

            The Towson Courthouse is by far the largest in Baltimore County. I’m not a lawyer, but I know many in Baltimore County and could certainly find out exactly how cases are assigned to the three county courts. But as a lay person it certainly doesn’t surprise me that a traffic ticket wouldn’t necessarily be adjudicated in the courthouse closest to the violation. Like a said, Towson’s courthouse is way bigger and has more capacity to hear cases. Maybe one court will start handling more cases when another is backlogged. Maybe there’s three rooms that handle traffic citations in Towson and only one in Catonsville.

          • I believe anonymous is correct, that’s the location of the courthouse not the traffic stop. Could there have been something fishy about the stop? Sure, but we would still need to explain how they knew he was on the expressway there. Could they have been following him around?

          • District 8 is one of 12 District Court Locations in Maryland, shown here with service areas…

            District 1 (Baltimore City)
            District 2 (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico & Worcester Counties)
            District 3 (Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s & Talbot Counties)
            District 4 (Calvert, Charles & St. Mary’s Counties)
            District 5 (Prince George’s County)
            District 6 (Montgomery County)
            District 7 (Anne Arundel County)
            District 8 (Baltimore County)
            District 9 (Harford County)
            District 10 (Carroll & Howard Counties)
            District 11 (Frederick & Washington Counties)
            District 12 (Allegany & Garrett Counties)

            Location is the County Code… one for each county…

            Allegany – 01
            Anne Arundel – 02
            Baltimore City – 03
            Baltimore County – 04
            Calvert – 05
            Caroline – 06
            Carroll – 07
            Cecil – 08
            Charles – 09
            Dorchester -10
            Frederick – 11
            Garrett – 12
            Harford – 13
            Howard – 14
            Kent – 15
            Montgomery – 16
            Prince George’s – 17
            Queen Anne’s – 18
            St. Mary’s – 19
            Somerset – 20
            Talbot – 21
            Washington – 22
            Wicomico – 23
            Worcester – 24

            These are just attribute fields to track cases through the judicial system.

            There are three district courts in Baltimore County… Towson, Catonsville and Essex. Towson is probably thought of as the HQ±, maybe because the Circuit Court is located there. I suspect his court hearing would have been in Catonsville, right there next to UMBC. Most moving violations are handled there. If the ticket was given across the river in AACo, it would have been a court date in Glen Burnie although the ‘main’ court is in Annapolis… i.e. District 7 Location 2.

            District and location codes have nothing to do with the place of contact other than regionally. Infraction occurred on I-95 southbound near I-195, very close to Catonsville. He was probably high tailing to Silver Spring to see Nisha, as someone mentioned. That would be his route down there at the time.

            As for the ‘pull over’, I can see a State Trooper targeting a dark-skinned young male without a seat belt. Maybe he got pulled over because of the call itself, crossed lines when answering the call, got pulled over, and got the seatbelt violation because that was all the trooper could pin on him. Luckily he wasn’t getting high. Not only did he get his first name wrong, he has DOB as 5/1981. All other cases in the database show Adnan’s DOB as 5/1980.

            The trooper missed some details. I don’t see a trooper in a patrol car coordinating with City detectives. Until recently, troopers wouldn’t even cross into Baltimore City. I believe they just started giving support for Raven’s games or if they patrol I-95. They don’t even patrol I-83 in the City. They are not around City police much especially back then… only recent special circumstances…


            If all this was orchestrated, City detectives would have gone to extremes to pull the troopers in like this and there would likely be a record somewhere. The State Troopers are generally not that crude, with the exception of Ed Norris…


            He could have used better judgment before and during his tenure. The tie could have been him but he didn’t become head of the Troopers until 2000.

            I just don’t see this as significant. It is a stretch…looking for fire where there may not even be smoke.

      • The state of Maryland has had a primary-enforcement seatbelt law since 1997. This, of course, allows for the possibility that an officer just happened to notice that Adnan wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, stopped him and gave him a ticket.
        However, the idea that this was just a run-of-the-mill traffic stop, in no way related to the investigation is pretty ridiculous.
        This being a coincidence would have to discount the :
        1. Adnans being pulled over on sole basis seatbelt violation (I’d venture to say that the percentage of traffic stops and infractions based solely upon an officer simply observing someone driving without a seatbelt a fairly low, and probably lower in 1999).
        2. This occurring one day after the police, who suspect him of murder, searched for his license information.
        3. A citation is issued under the wrong name and address.
        4. The name on said citation matches the misspelling on the phone records that were officially obtained 2 days later.
        5. A call was placed to Adnan/Adrians cellphone at the same time as the stop.

        • 1. And for this theory to hold up you have to somehow explain why on earth City police would get the State police involved. It would be much easier to have a city cop pull him over for some BS during his normal routine. The only explanation I can think of is that they didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he was a suspect and tried to make it look as random as possible–but that seems like a stretch.

          2. Agree

          3. See my earlier post re: a very realistic explanation of why both AT&T and the Ticket would have the same misspelling. As for the incorrect address, I don’t know Adnan’s real address. However, he could have moved since getting his license and his old address is on his license (not sure about other states but certainly common in MD). Or if the road is correct and numbers wrong, it could be the same reason his name is misspelled the same in two different places. License is scratched up, e.g. the “3” is really an “8”

          4. Again, see earlier post. “n” is scratched on Adnan’s license and appears as an “ri”

          5. If Adnan receives an average of even 3 calls an hour during the hours he is out of school, getting a call during a 10 minute traffic stop is statistically meaningless. But yes, a phone call is needed to support the theory.

          • I made a dumb error in point number one of the previous comment. It is City police that are investigating the case. But Adnan lives in the County and may not have a regular reason to go into the city. And for some reason it may be easier for City police to work/coordinate with State Troopers than County police. Which to me makes the theory a lot more plausible.

  21. Thank you for your amazing work, Susan! The “Adrian” typo is interesting and definitely seems to support the idea of a contrived traffic stop.. but I’m curious as to why they’d go through the trouble simply to verify a subscriber with whom they’d already been in contact. If the traffic stop did serve simply to verify Adnan as the subscriber, it seems like a reasonable amount of work only if they had to satisfy some requirement to get the subpoena, which they issued the following day – is that scenario likely or probable as to how evidence-gathering works?

    Secondly, does it not seem plausible that, in anticipation of receiving records from AT&T on 2/17, they were trying to nail down very precisely Adnan’s location during a call that would be included in those records? To me, that explanation seems likely and also supports the idea they were already looking hard at Adnan and conducted a “test” whose results they felt would validate use of pings as an investigative framework.

    I have no doubt you’ve either vetted this explanation or it’s supposed to be implicit without hand-holding from you but would be interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

  22. Also, I think it’s very possible the error on both the AT&T bill and the ticket are from the same source: Adnan’s driver’s license which has a scratch on the top right side of the first “n” in his name. His license is almost two years old at this point, scratched up. He has to give the store where he bought his cell phone his license to get accurate info and they often run a credit check so that you aren’t stuck paying a big deposit. He obviously gives the same license to the cop when pulled over. The scratch makes it look a little more like an “r” Plus Adrian is a much more common name than Adnan. It’s not a typo, it’s someone mistaking an uncommon name for a common one.

    It was pointed out that other violations/records from Adnan’s license show “Adnan,” but this of course is when his license is newer/less scratched.

      • Are you certain it’s a scan of his license and not a printout of his license from the DMV? The DMV, not surprisingly, keeps the exact original images on file so they can be re-issued if someone loses their license. I’m sure they provide the same images to police.

        And if you are certain it’s a scan, not a printout, is it dated? i.e. are you sure it’s very close to the time when Adnan both bought his phone and was arrested?

          • Wow, very thorough. Though again, it’s possible for the scratch to have occurred during the two month gap. And it’s possible that Adnan used an older copy, possibly his “provisional” copy for both AT&T and the traffic stop. And again, I just don’t see why the Trooper would be copying the info from an AT&T document and not from Adnan’s license or the pulled DMV records.

      • Also, is the address on the license the same as the address that appears on the citation and provided by AT&T (if provided)? In MD at that time you would have been issued a “provisional” driver’s license for your first year of driving that looks nearly identical to the standard license but “provisional” appeared at the top. After a year, most kids would go in to have their license reissued without the “provisional” so they could legally drive after midnight and any other restrictions I’m forgetting. I think you’re supposed to turn the old “provisional” in, but not positive. Either way, it’s possible Adnan was reissued a license to get off provisional, or because he lost it but uses the older license (could have found the one he thought he lost), for identification purposes when buying the phone, or even when he’s pulled over. Though the cop could have given him an additional citation for driving without his most recent copy (since the other one is invalid after the new one issued). Anyway, this is could be a possible explanation why a former address is filled in on the court document.

        • So I take it you’re in MD — have you ever gotten a citation there? And if so, do you recall if it was signed by the officer who issued it?

          Here’s the only other record we have of the citation, from an evidence log of what was found in Adnan’s car:

          2/15/99 at 2:11 p.m. and the ’87 gold Honda [tag number for car].

          Uhm … actual location of the [offense] south bound 95 at 1-95. And we have a $25.00 Failure to Wear Seatbelt Citation. Does not appear that the Citation was signed, and it was issued by a trooper.

          It’s unclear if a trooper name was on the citation; if so, I haven’t been able to find a record of it. Not sure why it was unsigned, though.

  23. Also, for the “Adrian” connection to add up, the State Trooper who wrote the ticket would have to be filling out the information on the citation using either a copy of the AT&T printout or a document where this information was copied. Why would the Trooper do this instead of using Adnan’s license to fill out the citation? And if he wasn’t going to use the citation and your theory hold’s true, he would be much more likely to use the DMV info the police printed out, not the AT&T records.

    • See my post below at “Blues101100 on March 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm said:” for a crack I took at this. I’m sort of tripped up mentally at this point too, but I took a crack at it.

    • How did the police get Adnan’s cell phone number the day Hae disappeared? I thought Adnan got the new phone the day before and called Hae that night to give her the number. Would her family have had it at that point? Was it in her journal?

      • That was likely part of the problem. Adnan’s cell number is written in Hae’s diary — but it’s right next to Don’s name written a whole bunch of times. Like: ” [Adnan’s #] DON DON DON DON DON DON.” So from the paper, you’d think it was Don’s number.

        • Aisha.
          Hae is missing. Police ask her family for her best friend’s phone number. They call Aisha. They ask her whom Hae might be with, if she was seeing anyone, men in her life, other close friends she could be with. She mentions a few people and police ask her for the phone #’s.

  24. Susan this is great work, as always. I have to admit that I’m a bit stuck on how the ticketing officer makes the same naming error that was present on the AT&T records. I know there were no scratch marks on his license, as you stated above (although in my scenario, I’m not entirely sure that the cop even asked for his license and reg), and it seems implausible to me that an AT&T rep and a state trooper make the same naming error. Here’s my scenario, including where I breakdown on the “how” of the ticketing error.

    – the Baltimore detectives need to verify Adnan as the subscriber on the down low because of the naming error and because they got the data through “unofficial channels”
    – one of them calls in a favor to a state trooper, asking for a little tail on the kid the next day to help out…its a murder case, its a young girl, they are sure they have their guy, so the statey is happy to help out
    – the detectives send to the state trooper Adnan’s MVA information, both registration and license, so that he can find and make contact appropriately – HERE’S MY PROBLEM – why would the detectives have needed to give the state trooper the AT&T info with the wrong name if they were specifically trying to prove that the subscriber wasn’t “Adrian” Syed?? The only thing I can think of is the following
    – the detectives also told the state trooper the whole story about the naming issue, to fill him in on the background of why exactly this operation was needed. The detectives tell him the “Adrian” naming issue and send him the AT&T info as backup.
    – The state trooper pulls over Adnan the next day at a spot where its plausible that he’s committed some sort of moving violation (can’t be backing out of his driveway) and sometime from the moment that the stop happens through the end of this exchange, a call is placed to Adnan’s phone, as the traffic stop is the trigger for the call to be made so the trooper can verify that Adnan does in fact answer:
    Trooper: “know why I pulled you over back there?”
    Adnan: “nope”
    Trooper: “[thinking to himself ‘shit, neither to I’] you ran that red light/were being reckless/i had you going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit/didnt use your turn signal.”
    Adnan: “yo man, its like, I totally didnt even realize, you know what im saying?”
    Trooper: “Listen, youre about to go to jail for a long, long time for no good reason, so Im going to give you a break and write you a ticket for a seatbelt violation.”
    Adnan: “thanks a lot, yo. I mean, you’re either going to believe in me or not, you know what Im saying?”
    **Trooper never asks for license and reg, because he already has it. This isn’t a ‘real’ traffic stop.**
    – The trooper is dumber than a box of hair and he himself gets confused with the naming issue. He writes the ticket with the name on the AT&T data that the detectives sent him, thinking that they were actually trying to verify that name. But, it doesn’t matter because by this time;
    – The trooper has made a positive ID on Adnan picking up his cell phone and calls in to the detectives as such, and all we have left is this crazy little piece of detritus from a totally weird investigation.

    Does this make sense? Or have I over-complicated it? I just don’t have the imagination right now to figure out any other way that the officer gets the name wrong too. A couple other thoughts:

    – I wonder if this naming error occurs on any other identifying information of Adnan’s from that time period. If not, they I think the case for the coordinated pullover/phone call is as strong as it can be.
    – I wonder if Adnan remembers this particular traffic stop (“yeah at that time, I would have either been driving or getting pulled over by a cop, but you know I could have been pulled over then. yeah. you know what im sayin?”)
    – If Adnan remembers the content of the cell phone call. This is an incoming call that lasts for over half a minute, which means that there must have been some content. If this was in fact a little covert operation, I assume that the only reason the detectives would have had to make it seem realistic and not just leave air on the other end of the phone is so that Adnan wouldn’t get spooked by something as strange as a dead air phone call right when he gets pulled over by a cop. In the minds of the detectives, he’s a murder suspect who might get jumpy. If thats the case, who do they get to talk to Adnan for half a minute?

    This all gets weirder and weirder.

    POST SCRIPT – I find Adnan quite endearing, so I took some artistic liberties and poked fun at his vocal mannerisms a bit here. Hopefully no hard feelings.

    • Thanks for adding that you took liberties with Adnan’s voice–I forgive you this once. Yo man, otherwise you are stereotyping, you know what I mean? An honors student like Adnan would have been respectful and courteous.

    • I’ve been keeping a close eye out to see if the “Adrian” error pops up anywhere else, but so far, it hasn’t. The phone bill and the 2/15 seatbelt violation are it.

  25. Speaking of AT&T and the DEA, it sounds like the more complete call detail records showing the incoming calls (and possibly tower data from both the beginning and end of each call) should still exist:

    Is this something that the current defense team would be able to access? It doesn’t seem like it would play a role in his current appeal, but surely identifying the incoming calls would help any attempts to prove factual innocence?

  26. Jay’s version(s) of events place(s) him on the same road, a distance away from the burial site, waiting with Adnan’s car at both 7:00-ish (police interviews or testimony) and “closer to midnight” (Intercept interview), when the alleged burial was taking place. What a shame the police chose to document the details of the mentally ill person’s report versus Mr. A’s. Perhaps Mr. A, along with Mr. S (the streaker), both saw the suspicious activity of a young black man in a light car, but Mr. S was the only one to go back in the woods to investigate what he thought he saw. Wish PD had taken a name and address for Mr. A….

    • It looks like the police did take Mr. A’s name and address. The document shows that the area marked “name” and “address” are blacked out. I’m assuming the information is known but redacted for privacy.
      I would like to know if Susan know’s Mr. A’s name, and if there has been any attempt to contact him.

  27. Reading the transcripts of Jens trial testimony on 2/15/2000 ~page 95
    Jen testifies that:
    Jay said he wanted to wipe prints off of the shovels Adnan used to bury Hae because they were from his house. He maintains that he did not assist Adnan in burying Hae, so he would have had no reason to touch them other than having given them to Adnan.
    How did CG fail to ask Jen if she had questioned Jay as to why there were more than one shovel? Had it not sounded odd to Jen that Jay was wiping down more than one shovel after he had insisted that Adnan alone had dug the hole and buried the body? Had Jen questioned Jay as to why (or how!) one person (Adnan) would use more than one shovel to bury a body?
    How were there no questions about there being shovelS?!?

    • Agree this is just one more disparity to add to the long list of disparities in Jay/Jen’s story, but:

      1. If Jay grabbed multiple shovels, and Adnan used only one, Jay would still want to wipe the prints of all of them.

      2. Do you own multiple shovels and used them to dig in the yard? If I have a yard project that calls for digging, I often grab a couple shovels along with a hoe or a pick or the tool with the flat, heavy blade used to cut through roots (I don’t know what you call it). Because while digging a hole, you don’t know what you’re going to run into and which tools will work best. Also, Jay could have run into his grandmother’s shed and seen a couple shovels. He has no experience digging anything, doesn’t know what to grab, so just grabs both.

      3. In comparison to the huge changes Jay made in his story, Jay could have made a small change here to explain it. He says something like, “Yeah, I don’t know, I was kind of in shock. I don’t think I was really thinking about helping to dig the hole at that point, but I just didn’t know what was going on…” Or even, “Yeah, I guess I could have been considering helping dig at that point, but after I calmed down and thought about how nuts the situation was, I told Adnan I wanted no part of it.”

  28. “But, since this hypothetical cellphone data would not have come from official sources (no subpoenas had been issued yet), how could the investigators have proven that the cellphone records were for Adnan’s phone, without using “official” channels? In other words, how could they unofficially verify the accuracy of their unofficial records?”

    They do exactly what Officer Adcock did the night of the murder. They call Aisha, or they call any of Adnan’s friends and say “hey we’re trying to track down Adnan’s cell phone #” Or if they’re worried about tipping Adnan off that he is a serious suspect, they ask something Aisha something benign like “hey we’re very sorry to bother you, we know what a hard time this is, but do you happen to remember what Hae was wearing the day she disappeared?” Aisha doesn’t know, can’t be sure, so they ask for a couple phone numbers, Krista’s, Adnan’s, etc. Or they call up Adnan’s parents and pretend to be a co-worker of Adnan and ask for the number or pretend to be AT&T and say “we’re calling to make sure Mr. Syed is happy with his cell purchase. To confirm is his #…..?” Not only is it very likely the detectives already had Adnan’s cell # from another source by this point, even if they didn’t, there seem to be a whole bunch of easier ways to confirm the number than involving the State police, wasting the time to follow him around or track him down, etc.

    • Or why wouldn’t the detectives just call the phone to see if it was the correct # for Adnan? “Good afternoon Adnan, this is Mr. XYZ from the University of Maryland confirming the mailing address on your recent application…”

    • Here is what the detectives had concerning Adnan’s phone number:

      (1) A diary entry that reads

      410 443 253 9023 Don Don Don Don Don Don Don Don [repeat 100+ times

      (2) Witnesses who had reported calling the number expecting someone else and getting Adnan instead.

      (3) No police reports from the county with Adnan’s phone number, until O’Shea creates one on 2/14

      (Relatedly, I wonder why O’Shea was prompted to finally write an official report with Adnan’s phone number on 2/14?)

      And, (4) confusion over Adnan’s cell number even after a subpoena has been issued:

      If a tower dump was done, then Adnan’s cell number would have been used to cross reference the database to find a match. However, the number found in the carrier records would have: (1) would’ve been under Mr. B’s account; (2) would have had an address completely unrelated to Adnan’s; and (3) had am assigned subscriber named ‘Adrian Syedd.’ It would have been a very confusing set of paperwork to puzzle out.

      The phone had also been activated only on January 11th, and no witnesses had yet stated on the record that the 443-253- number was Adnan’s. What if Adnan denied that the phone was his, or had a cousin named Adrian who had possession of the phone most of the time, and Adnan only borrowed it when he didn’t want his parents to hear what he was talking about? And if they called Adnan up front to ask, what if he was alerted by the police contacting him, and denied ownership over the phone? Will they be able to prove that it is his phone? Whether the seatbelt stop was connected to the phone bill or not, I’d bet a lot of money the paperwork situation was causing headaches for the detectives and the ASAs.

      • “Pulling Adnan over for a traffic stop, and having someone make a call to his cellphone while that officer watched, would be one way of doing that. That would allow investigators to confirm that the cellphone records…”

        1. They wouldn’t “be up front.” Even given the very remote chance that the detectives were worried about things like Adnan “(having) a cousin named Adrian who had possession of the phone most of the time…” There’s 1,000 ways to call the phone directly and confirm it’s Adnan on the other end without raising suspicion. Or why not just park someone near where Adnan would be walking during his usual routine, call the phone and watch to see if he looks at the call.

        2. Also, the “get the trooper to see if Adnan answers his phone” idea is not only a much more complicated and resource-intensive scheme, it’s also more likely to create even more confusion than the much more simple options. What if the phone is on vibrate in Adnan’s pocket when it’s called. He’s not going to answer it and almost certainly not even going to pull the phone out of his pocket with the trooper right there. And where would that leave the detectives? Just that much more confused.

        I completely agree that the Trooper stop is either fishy, or a big coincidence. Just not for the reason you cite. The plan is overly-complicated, possibly ineffective, and the Trooper would have strangely filled out the citation using the AT&T printout as opposed to Adnan’s license or a much more concise DMV printout. I thought for a second maybe they were issuing the citation and mailing it to the wrong address just to get a bench warrant out for Adnan in case they couldn’t hold or charge him otherwise, but the court date would be way too far in the future. I then thought maybe they just wanted an excuse to get close to the car to inspect it before Adnan figured out he was a serious suspect, but why wouldn’t they just do it when it’s sitting in the school parking lot or somewhere else. Any other ideas, I’m all ears. And apologies for taking up so much space with these comments. It’s your blog, and am happy to respect any response like “drop it” or “lord almighty, move on.”

        • As I was reading your post, I had the idea that the police stop may have indeed had a dual purpose. You wound up alluding to that yourself, but perhaps only to make the ‘collect cell phone evidence’ maneuver not seem so over the top. It’s not that I’m backtracking and saying that I don’t think that the traffic stop could have been solely for confirming Adnan as the subscriber. I think its a lot more powerful than some of the other suggestions I’ve seen for dealing with the little admin headache the detectives had on their hands thanks to the Mr. B + Adrian issue, and thus the method they probably used. You have law enforcement make a positive ID on him, in his car, using his phone…now you can present something like “we have his license and reg info from the MVA, we had a trooper pull him over in the car thats registered to him, identified him as Adnan Syed, and confirmed on sight that he answered the cell phone when the number connected to this subscriber ‘Adrian’ was called. I think its as good as gold that we are in fact dealing with Adnan. Subpoena.”

          Given the timing and the lack of other documentation with the same naming mistake, I can’t in good faith say this this was merely fishy or a coincidence.

          I like the idea of getting close to the car with him in it. Hae’s buried body has just been discovered. Jay isn’t in the picture yet. Maybe they think there’s a chance the inside of the car contains enough evidence at a glance (obvious dirt/mud, blood stains, “digging tools”) to warrant an immediate search. We are talking 3 days after the body being discovered. This could have very well been first good chance at contact.

          • Blues101100, I think if the investigation into Hae Lee’s murder has taught us anything, it’s that BACKTRACKING is NOT a dirty word. Maybe if the detectives had backtracked a little more…

            :And “fishy” probably wasn’t the best word. I meant something more towards “very unlikely to be a coincidence.” And you’re probably right, a lot of little reasons add up to enough reason: being able to confirm his cell phone, an opportunity to get a close look at his car, the opportunity to get a bench warrant for a failed appearance, even if it is way down the road (which might explain why the Trooper juxtaposed the numbers in the address), and a couple more we’re not thinking of. Plus, the cops know that Adnan smokes pot. I think there’s a very good chance they were hoping he had a bag in the car and could smell it, or that he had recently smoked and still smelled, or he had a bowl sitting out somewhere, and maybe even pulled him over coming from a place he was likely to have just smoked. I think this was on a Saturday? And it was near Patapsco State Park where it sounds like have been a regular spot to go (though he was driving more towards it as opposed to away from it?). That way they can get him in the back of the Troopers cruiser and do a thorough search of Adnan’s car before he is alerted that he is the main suspect.

            I wonder if Susan or Rabia or anyone else have any insight as to why a State Trooper was set up for this task? A city cop would be much easier to coordinate with. It’s also a lot easier for a city cop to find a reason to pull someone over: roll through a stop sign, illegal turn, running a red light, etc. etc. Troopers are pretty much confined to the highways where there are fewer reasons. Again, it may just be that Adnan rarely went inside the city line, or at least didn’t have a regular reason to that they could rely on. I’m also curious whether it’s easier for city police to coordinate with State Police versus Baltimore County police. I have no idea. I do know that the reputation for “playing loose with the rules” from greatest to least would be: City Police, County Police, State Troopers. But maybe one of the detectives new this Trooper specifically or any other number of reasons.

          • Am I missing something? Why go to all the trouble to get a state trooper to pull over Adnan just to verify his cell phone number when on the day of Hae’s disappearance the detectives trying to track down Hae’s friends called Adnan on this telephone number and Adnan answered.

        • (replying to your subsequent post) The traffic stop was on a Monday around 12 pm, which I thought was weird at first that Adnan would be so far from school at that time of day. Then I looked it up and it was President’s day that year (also the day after Valentine’s day, also the day after the “actual” Nisha call took place at Jay’s porn store). My theory – Adnan was on his way to Silver Spring to see Nisha.

      • You’re probably not reading this any more but just in case you are:

        ‘(2) Witnesses who had reported calling the number expecting someone else and getting Adnan instead.’

        Who were these witnesses and who did they think they were calling?

  29. What I can’t seem to shake is that Don’s dad was a police officer (Rabia revealed that in her blog after the last episode where Don’s alibi is revealed as his mom). With all the undeniable corruption by the cops and prosecution, I keep going back to that as a motivator – inside involvement if Don’s dad was covering up for Don (pinpointing Adnan and using Jay as a pawn since they could’ve easily threatened Jay / his grandma with the drug charges). The note found in Hae’s car shows the intent to quickly swing by and see Don that day. Someone inside was calling the shots.

    Susan – thoughts? I’ve been reluctant to share the theory to tip off more covering up, but all your investigation continues to point to that possibility (in my brain at least).

    • Did Rabia mention or any other proof of where Don’s father is a police officer? I recall the podcast saying Don lived well Northeast of Woodlawn in the next county (Harford). If Don’s father is a Harford County cop, Baltimore City Detectives wouldn’t care less. Like I said, a Harford County officer isn’t even really “police” to a Baltimore City Cop. And the son of a Harford County officer to a couple City Detectives…

        • Whoa!!!!! I guess MacGillivary’s co-workers at BPD figured he fit the Harford County “rent-a-cop” stereotype, and possibly got fed up with the kind of sloppy police work seen in the Hae Lee murder cased, and ran him out of Baltimore!

          Keep digging! A clear connection between MacGillivary or Kevin Urick or Ritz, etc. and Don’s dad would be pretty mind-blowing. Maybe they worked together in the past, they are neighbors, friends from the same church, same knitting club, all in recovery and members of DSM-anonymous – Deranged Sense of Morality.

      • I don’t know about proof, but she writes in her blog that “it appears that Don’s father is a police officer..” ( Don’t know what info she’s using to conclude that.
        One address shown is in Pikesville, MD (still Baltimore County), which appears close to Randallstown, and there’s another address on the record in Bel Air, MD, which is Harford County. I don’t understand the differing addresses. A police officer does not have to work in the county he lives in, correct?
        Hae was with Don until late Thursday night. He had an off day on Friday, and she wanted to skip school. The note found in her car shows intent to see him after school and prior to wrestling match. (unclear if intended before or after the cousin pick-up that she never showed for). By chance, he gets called in to work on his off day but at a completely different store / mall, which is further north on the map, and his mom happens to run that location. Is there any information in the records that show when he supposedly clocked in? It says in the report that he ended Friday’s shift around 6pm.

  30. I find the fact that the subpoena came from the DEA very interesting. Like you said, Susan, it could be MacGililvary calling in a favor. As another commenter wrote, the CI angle could be at play. However, could DEA have been running some kind of parallel investigation into Jay? They could have been trying to establish his movements or contacts during January 12-14, perhaps because he had been up to something felonious falling within DEA’s jurisdiction.

    Of course, that would require DEA knowing that Jay was in possession of Adnan’s phone–but could also explain why Jenn’s home phone number was already a known quantity. Following that path, it’s possible that whatever actions DEA was investigating during this three day span are the same actions that involved Jay in this murder and motivated him to peg Adnan as the murderer. It would also explain, perhaps, why he was so afraid–as relayed to us in the final episode of the podcast, if I’m not mistaken.

    Anyway, just some thoughts that I admit are very speculative and somewhat of an analytical leap. But–tremendous work as always, Susan–I always look forward to your posts!

  31. Does it seem like a possibility to anyone else that Hae was killed as a result of showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time?
    Let’s say she sees Adnan’s car and pulls up to it (at Best Buy or elsewhere) thinking that Adnan was in the car. Maybe she thought she’d buy a joint off of him or something. (Or, if you think Adnan had asked her for a ride because he didn’t have his car maybe she was going to confront him about having it after all.)
    We know that it was actually Jay who was in possession of the car at that time. Perhaps she interrupted a drug deal involving something much more serious than pot and was killed by the other party involved with a subsequent coverup. Jay is insistant about not coming across as a snitch because he doesn’t want the actual parties involved to start thinking of him as a liability also.
    Just a thought, but it would make sense as to Jay’s motive for his police cooperation.

    • I think it’s very likely that the first part of your theory is right – Hae happens upon Adnan’s car at the best buy parking lot and is like “wtf, dude, were you lying to me about your car being in the shop?” Only she figures out too late that it’s not Adnan in the car. If someone is there with Jay, then who? If it’s a drug dealer I can’t see him strangling her – not a common MO for silencing a witness. Maybe it was Jen and they were smoking pot together or more. Her brother was supposedly home at the time so if they needed privacy to fool around they may have gone to that spot (which apparently was known as a good secluded spot to fool around). Maybe it was even Mark that was with Jay, a 15 year old smoking pot with him might also have shocked Hae so much that she threatened to expose Jay to Stephanie, the cops, and everyone.

      To me it sounds like someone strangled her to keep her from talking, she had to be kept quiet.

      • I’ve always thought there was someone else with Jay that day — not a kid but someone older and much scarier. He certainly knew people like that, just from hanging around his grandmother’s house. The real mystery is how Hae bumped into them. I don’t think — from the testimony about when she was last seen at school and her apparent hurry to get to the daycare — that it makes sense she’d have actually stopped just because she saw Adnan’s car. I do think it’s possible that she thought she could squeeze in one more thing before picking up her cousin, and that if she left school alive, the encounter with Jay + ugly scary guy was random and very near.

        It doesn’t seem crazy that she might have stopped at that motel, for example . . . maybe the weather forecast had convinced her there’d be no school the next day and she wanted to score a room for her and Don?

        Another thought — from a very old reddit thread that’s probably gone — is that Jay may have been showing off a bit by talking to the pretty Asian girl in front of his scary thug partner. Scary thug comes on to Hae, she blows him off, and he does what thugs do.

  32. So youre confused why police officers did police work? A girl was murdered who had no ties to gangs or other high risk behavior, of course her ex would be the first person they looked at. Were they not supposed to do anything until someone called? Drivers license, veh info, criminal history, past contacts with LE would all be standard research on a possible suspect.

    As for the witness, depending on lighting witnesses arent great on guessing race and a black male could very easily be hispanic or Pakistani. It was probably discounted simply because he didnt have enough to be worthwhile and im not sure what extra follow up a black male and light car could get at that point. It definetly wouldnt weaken anything against adnan and a report was written in case something came up later to make it relevant.

    Though youre right, he was the only suspect, as he was the murderer and the ONLY one they neeeded.

  33. Hi Susan,

    Jay killed Hae. He lied through his teeth. Syed knew zilch about what happened. Jay knew each and every detail and got rid of his clothes. Better to set up Syed and confess he helped, than to get nailed for the whole shebang. He is the sociopath Sarah didn’t see and the detectives let slip through their fingers and gave special status. Syed never lied. Not one single speck of evidence anywhere demonstrates his guilt.

    Our judicial system bursts with cases like this monstrosity. Our judicial system is an organized criminal enterprise. It decides who gets what, including the judges and their cronies. Everything is paid for and case precedents rule. They are virtually untouchable thugs; they wield power like third world despots. We can’t get rid of our federal dictators unless we expose their crimes and we can’t expose their crimes because lawyers depend on them for their income. Can ANYONE name one lawyer willing to pursue corrupt judges, if we have sufficient evidence to warrant such an effort? No one will. Not one. And these godfathers are ensconced in deeds that violate the letter and the spirit of the appearance of impropriety plus infinity. Our media is no longer free to investigate their suspicious behavior for fear of lawsuits.

    How many samples would you like to see for me to prove my point? I know you know, but most Americans have no idea what has happened to this backbone of our democracy. It is a crying shame.

  34. Hi Susan…re. the redacted cell/tower records…is there a way of viewing the records the police have on file to see whether or not the redaction was done by them? I think it would be quite clear as the redaction would either look printed/photocopied, or like a different ink. Only, if it’s the latter, might it be possible to ‘see through’ the redaction from the other side of the paper or something like that? You can sometimes see through crossed out type as the type print shines a bit differently in the light. Just a thought…

  35. I am still sticking with my theory of the position of the body after the murder

    And would like to incorporate the new evidence of the pressure marks within the lividity.

    I am trying to think of a solid item measuring at least about 15 inches long and about 3 inches wide that might have been lying on the floor on Hae’s car in front of the passenger seat. It could have even been the item that I think the murderer hit her on the head with before strangling her. If this item had two ridges running lengthwise and Hae’s chest was lying across it, the two 90 degree ridges which would have had to be approx 1 and 1/4 inches apart could have pressed into the skin on her chest and caused that compression pattern within the lividity. The item would also have needed to be quite thick through so that it held her chest slightly elevated off the floor as there were no pressure marks from the floor on her chest. Maybe the item was a piece of carpentry timber.

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  38. This is the part that still racks my brain. Why was Adnan singled out? It’s clear the investigation started before the reported tip. But why? Jay was a much easier mark and would probably have taken 2 seconds to convict based on the evidence. He had the phone and the car, done, case closed. The DEA involvement is a little wonky, were they investigating drug sales and distribution? Is there some one on the call list from the 13th they were investigating? Did Jay become a CI? I would be interested to see if there was a series of drug arrests after this and if those could be traced back to Jay or Jen especially because of the 1/26 arrest. I’ve listened to all the pre appeal Undisclosed podcasts, and Serial and watched the HBO documentary, but the why Adnan question still hasn’t been answered. The State’s evidence has been exposed, even by the court of appeals judge sited Jay’s bad timeline. So why? Why didn’t they do more investigation into the other young women they found in the park? From the outside looking in it appears there is more evidence pointing in other directions than Adnan.

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