Serial: The Question of Don’s Alibi

As a preface, I want to be very clear: this post is not about Don. Rather, it is about the the State’s investigation of Don, and the failure thereof. Nothing herein is evidence that Don was involved in Hae’s murder, because the fact that an alibi went unverified does not mean that that the alibi was untrue. As a result, while there is no reason to believe Don was not at the Hunt Valley store on January 13, 1999, the flipside is that the police did not have reliable evidence from which they could conclude Don was at the store that day, either.

Don was not involved in Hae’s murder. Although there was evidence that, at the time of the original investigation, should have caused the police to take a special interest in Don — e.g., Debbie’s statements to the police about Hae’s plans, and the note found in Hae’s car — it appears now that the evidence did not actually suggest that Hae was on her way to see Don at the time of her disappearance. Back in 1999, however, the police did think that — and their failure to investigate Don as they should have is probably a big part of the reason why all the uncertainty about the wrestling match never got sorted out at the time of trial.

In investigating Hae’s murder, the police ignored any line of inquiry that did not directly lead towards building a case against Adnan. Their investigation of Don was a perfect example of this; they made the minimum possible effort to have him “ruled out” as a person of interest, and did little or nothing to investigate whether he might have relevant information concerning Hae’s disappearance. (A similar tactic was used with Mr. S. Although Mr. S failed a polygraph when asked if he was trying to withhold information from investigators, he was re-tested a few days later, and “passed” the polygraph once it was reduced to a single question, which was whether he knew the method in which Hae had been killed.)

Don and Adnan should have been of equal interest to investigators. Both had recently been in romantic relationships with Hae, and both should have had their alibis vetted.

Don and Adnan were not treated similarly by investigators, however. While Adnan was the focus of extensive investigation by both the Baltimore County and the Baltimore City Police, the investigation into Don was at best cursory (and, in the case of the Baltimore City Police, nonexistent). Although the police alleged that Don had been excluded as a suspect due to a confirmed alibi, this can only be said to have been “confirmed” under the loosest possible interpretation of that word.

Don’s alibi was that he had been at work on the day of Hae’s murder. Although he usually worked at the LensCrafters in Owings Mills, Don said that on January 13, 1999 he was  working at a different store, in Hunt Valley. However, the police did not speak to a single person from the Hunt Valley store, nor did they  obtain any employment records that could confirm his alibi. Instead, the police asked a single employee from the Owings Mills Mall location whether Don had worked at Hunt Valley that day, and although she stated that he had, her source for that information may have been Don himself.

Nothing more was done to investigate Don’s alibi until September 1999, when Adnan’s defense attorney filed a subpoena under seal requesting that LensCrafters produce all employment records for Don from the relevant time period. On October 4, 1999, LensCrafters produced records that showed Don had not worked on January 13, 1999.

Thereafter, Prosecutor Kevin Urick had a phone conversation with the LensCrafters legal department. Although the defense’s ex parte subpoena had been filed under seal, he somehow learned of it and obtained his own copies of the documents that LensCrafters had produced to the defense.  Two days later, following Urick’s phone conversation with the LensCrafters legal department, LensCrafters suddenly found an “additional time keeping record” that showed Don had, in fact, worked on January 13th. However, in a separate cover letter issued directly to Urick (and which LensCrafters did not include in its production to Gutierrez), LensCrafters went out of its way to notify Urick that the “General Manager on 1/13/99” was “also Donald’s mother” (emphasis in original). Moreover, a review of the newly-discovered timecard shows that there are several oddities that call its authenticity into question.

The Cursory Investigation of Don

On the night that Hae’s family filed a missing persons report, Officer Adcock had a phone conversation  with Don at around 1:30 a.m. His report, written at the end of his shift on January 14th, provided the following:

I spoke to victim Lee’s boyfriend [Don]. [Don] advised he does not know the whereabouts of Ms. Lee. [Don] advised that he talked to Ms. Lee last on 1/12/99.

It should be noted that I spoke to [Don] on 1/14/99.

Another Baltimore County officer spoke to Don on January 14th, presumably later in the day, and reported the following:

The victim’s boyfriend [Don] [ ]advised he has not seen the victim since 1/12/99. Harford County sheriff was requested to check the area surrounding [Don’s street] for the victim and or her vehicle. At this time, with negative results.

Don did not mention to either officer that he had been at work that day, nor did he mention that he and Hae had made plans to meet up after Hae’s shift at LensCrafters. The first mention of any alibi for Don came a little over a week later, when Detective O’Shea spoke to him over the phone:

On 01/22/99 the assigned interviewed Don[ ]. Don said the last time he saw Hae Lee was on 01/12/99. Hae was at Donald’s residence in Bel Air. Donald said Hae was in a good mood and she was happy about their new relationship. Hae did mention to Donald that she argued with her mother about breaking curfew and phone privileges. Hae did not indicate to Donald that she was planning to go anywhere.

Hae left Don’s residence at 2230 hours and paged him when she arrived home at 2330 hours. Donald called Hae and they spoke on the phone until approximately 0300 hours. Hae told Donald that she would call him after she left work on 01/13/99. Hae was scheduled to work the 1800-2200 shift. On 01/13/99 Donald went to work at the Hunt Valley LensCrafters store. Donald did not speak with Hae while he was at work. Don worked until approximately 1800 hours. Don arrived home at 1900 hours and he was advised by his father to call the Owings Mills store. Donald called the store and he was told that Hae Lee was missing.

Don has known Hae Lee since 10/98. Hae and Don started to date on 01/01/99. Donald said Hae broke up with Adnan in mid-December of 1998. Adnan came to the store after he broke up with Hae. Donald met Adnan and Donald said Adnan was polite and cordial.

Hae told Donald that she spent the summer of 1997 or 1998 in California with her father. Hae also said she would like to live in California.

O’Shea submitted his report on February 11, 1999, only two days after Hae’s body was found. To judge from the tone of the report, as well as the investigators’ conduct at that time, the police had already dismissed Don as a possible suspect by the time the report was written.

Six days later, on January 28th, O’Shea spoke to Debbie about Hae. She told him the following:

Debbie said she saw Hae at approximately 1500 hours on 01/13/99. Hae was by herself and she was inside the school near the gym. Hae told Debbie that she was going to see Don[ ] at the mall. Debbie did not see Hae leave the school.
Debbie said Hae was excited about her relationship with Don[ ]. Hae would fight with her mother, but it was nothing serious enough to make her leave.

A little over a week after first interviewing Don, O’Shea interviewed “CM,” a manager at the Owings Mills LensCrafters. Although the manner of interview was not specified, it is worth noting that on the day the manager was interviewed, Don was working at the Owings Mill store all day — and thus, if the interview was in person, Don would have been there when O’Shea spoke to CM.

On February 14, 1999, O’Shea submitted the following report of his interview with the manager:

On 2/01/99 [O’Shea] interviewed [CM, a manager at LensCrafters in Owings Mills]. [CM] said Hae Lee was scheduled to work at 1800 hours on 01/13/99. Hae did not show up for work nor did she contact anyone.
[CM] said Don[ ] was working at the Hunt Valley LensCrafters on 01/13/99. [CM] said Don[ ] arrived for work at 0902 hours. He took a lunch break from 1310 to 1342 hours. [He] left work at 1800.

As O’Shea’s reports typically indicate when his interviews occurred in person, his conversation with CM most likely occurred over the phone, not at the LensCrafters store.  Don worked at LensCrafters all day on February 1st, and had O’Shea gone to the store in person, Don would presumably have been interviewed at the same time. As a result, the source of CM’s information about Don’s work schedule at the Hunt Valley store was not disclosed in O’Shea’s report. The source may very well have been Don himself, as it does not appear that different stores had access to each other’s employee records (or, if they did have shared access to employee time keeping records, then, as discussed infra, that itself raises additional concerns about the authenticity of those records).

Three days later, O’Shea went to the LensCrafters store and interviewed Don again, this time in person. O’Shea’s report merely noted that Don gave “the same” information he had previously provided:

The assigned met with Don[ ] in person on 02/04/99 at Owings Mills LensCrafters store. The information obtained was the same as provided in this correspondence.

After Don’s first interview, O’Shea was  informed by Debbie — who was believed to be the last person known to have seen Hae — that Hae had been on her way to “see Don at the mall” when she left Woodlawn High School. Despite this, O’Shea did not question Don about whether he and Hae had made plans to see each other that day, or even whether Hae knew at which mall he would be working.

In addition to the interviews with O’Shea, a consultant assisting with the missing persons investigation spoke to Don sometime in January and had the following to say about him:

Don: Co-worker and new boyfriend. Contacted both by police and by [consultant]. [Don] appeared mature, articulate but not overly concerned. Although helpful and polite he did not sound in any way emotionally concerned with Hae Lee’s disappearance. He felt she had gone to California to be with her father. But he did state that he hoped she would contact him. He did say that she had a girlfriend whose parents were away on vacation for the week (ending 1/16). He did not know who it was but offered the information “just in case”.

A missing persons report was taken by Officer Adcock at 5:15 PM. Mandy Johnson, Director of the Enehey Group, spoke with Hae Lee’s colleague at LensCrafters, Don[ ]. Hae Lee had recently begun dating [Don], and she seemed very enthusiastic about the their relationship. He stated that they had gone out together the night before her disappearance January 12, 1999. He confirmed that this was the last time he saw her. He said that he called her later to assure she had arrived home safely. During the date, he claims she told him that she’d had an argument with her mother earlier that day and that she had expressed the desire to live with her father in California. When asked how she would accomplish this, [Don] seemed to think she would either drive there or leave her car in the Satellite Parking Facility at BWI Airport and fly by commercial airline to California. He did not appear as enthused about their relationship as Hae Lee’s diary indicates that she was.

The consultant’s conversation with Don was the last time that Don was contacted by anyone from the State, in connection with either the missing person or the murder investigations. Following the discovery of Hae’s body, Don was never contacted by the Baltimore City Police, nor did Ritz or MacGillivary make any attempt to verify Don’s alibi beyond the summary report provided by O’Shea on February 14th. They never obtained his timecards for January 13th, never spoke to anyone who had actually seen Don on that day, and never discovered that Don’s manager at the Hunt Valley store was his mother.

During the murder investigation, Don’s name did get mentioned numerous times, however. All of Hae’s friends told the police that, at least initially, they had believed Hae had run off with her new boyfriend:

Becky - Don Statement 1

From Becky’s statement.

Becky - Don Statement 2

From Becky’s statement.

Debbie Conversation

From Debbie’s statement.

Debbie - Don, Statement 2

From Debbie’s statement.

Although Don succeeded in convincing Debbie that Hae was not with him, it appears that Don may have been one of the sources of the subsequent rumor that emerged to explain Hae’s whereabouts: that she had gone to California to live with her father. Debbie told the police that she “d[id]n’t know for sure” who started the California rumor, and that it may have been she  and Aisha. However, the California rumor may have been passed on to Debbie by “Donnie” during their  seven hour phone conversation, as Debbie did not mention anything involving California during her own interview with O’Shea on February 1st. Per  the police files, Don was the earliest known source of the California claim: he had told the consultant some time in late January that during his date with Hae on January 12th, she expressed a desire to run off to California. He also stated that he thought she might have flown or driven there. Although Inez stated during a February 1st interview that Hae “wanted to contact her father in California,” Becky told police that Inez had told her and Adnan that “she thought Hae went to California”.

Other than the statements from Becky and Debbie indicating that they initially believed Hae was with Don, Don’s name comes up only two other times in the Baltimore Police Department’s files. The first comes from an undated, unsigned page of notes taken on a sheet of paper with BPD letterhead:

New Boyfriend

None of Hae girlfriends like

new boyfr.

New boyfriend assaulted Debbie.

There is no indication where this information came from, and as a result, I do not consider it to be a credible report. However, it does indicate that the police were being fed information by someone who claimed that Don had “assaulted Debbie,” and yet the police did absolutely nothing to follow up on it.

The final time that Don’s name appears in the police files is in the “Don Note,” which was discovered in Hae’s car on February 28th. The police never questioned Don about the note, despite their belief that it was written on the day of Hae’s murder, and despite the note’s corroboration of Debbie’s statement that Hae was on her way to “see Don at the mall” when she left WHS (ostensibly to deliver this note).

Moreover, although Don testified at trial that the police had questioned him about his plans to see Hae on January 13th, there is no indication in the police file as to what Don’s response may have been. Don testified that he did “not recall” what he had told the police, and as a result, there was no evidence at trial concerning Hae and Don’s plans for that day:

CG: And, sir, you were made aware, were you not, that in fact someone from Woodlawn had told the police that Hae Min Lee had said she was going to hook up with you after she left school?
Don: (No response.)
CG: Were you not told that?
Don: No.
CG: And were you asked about any plans you may have had to be with her then?
Don: Yes, I was asked that.
CG: All right. And you told them you had no plans to see her that day, correct?
Don: I do not recall what I told them.
CG: You don’t recall what you told the police who contacted you about the disappearance of your then girlfriend?
Don: No, ma’am. (2/01/00 Tr. 76.)

The only other pre-trial record of Don’s alibi comes from the defense files. In March 1999, defense investigator Drew Davis  visited the Owings Mills LensCrafters in an attempt to verify that Don was there on 1.13. The manager on duty (who was not the same manager that O’Shea had spoken to) turned Davis away and told him she could not give him any information about Don’s alibi:

Private Detective Andrew Davis responded to LensCrafters located in Owings Mills Mall in Owings Mills. PD Davis spoke to manager, [DA]. PD Davis was advised that any information that was obtained from Lens Crafters would have to be obtained through their general manager. PD Davis was also instructed to speak to Detective Joe O’Shea from Baltimore County Police Homicide. No further information could be provided.
. . .
PD Davis was able to speak to a police official who was involved in this investigation. PD Davis was advised by the subject that all alibi’s provided by Don, Hae’s current boyfriend, were confirmed and he had been completely ruled out as a possible suspect. PD Davis was also assured that the police had an “air tight” case against Adnan Syed in this case. The police official was confident that they had in fact arrested the correct person.

The police officer that Davis spoke to (presumably O’Shea) neglected to mention that Don’s alibi had been “confirmed” by a manager at a store where Don had not worked on the day of the murder and that no store records or eye witnesses could confirm that Don had actually been at Hunt Valley that day.

Summary of the Investigation into Don

The investigators’ complete disinterest in Don is baffling. The Harford County sheriff did conduct a search for Hae’s car in Don’s neighborhood on the night of January 13, 1999, but that was the most extensive investigation into Don that was ever performed. In investigating Hae’s disappearance, and later her murder, the police:

  • Never spoke to anyone at the Hunt Valley LensCrafters store.
  • Never obtained Don’s timecards for January 13, 1999. Although manager at the Owings Mills store informed Detective O’Shea (likely over the phone) that Don had worked at Hunt Valley that day, the source of that information was not identified.
  • Never discovered that Don’s mother was the manager of the store where he said he had worked.
  • Never questioned Don about Debbie’s statement that Hae was  on her way to see him when she disappeared.
  • Never questioned Don about the note found in Hae’s car that indicated she had been on her way to see him when she disappeared.
  • Never questioned Don about the police notes indicating Hae’s “new boyfriend assaulted Debbie.”

In addition, following the discovery of Hae’s body, the Baltimore City Police (who were handling the murder investigation) spoke neither to Don nor to anyone at either LensCrafters store. The Homicide Unit’s only sources of information about Don were  Detective O’Shea’s reports of his interviews with Don and the Owings Mills Mall manager, which were  written 2+ weeks after those interviews took  place.

The Prosecutor’s Procurement of Don’s Alibi

On September 24, 1999, Gutierrez filed an ex parte motion for issuance of a subpoena to LensCrafters requesting Don’s employment records. By filing the motion ex parte, the existence of the subpoena could not be disclosed to the prosecution, because:

Investigation into the background and whereabouts of Hae Min lee and Don and the credibility of chronicle of the events surrounding January 13th are essential to the defense investigation and is attorney-client protected and privileged work product. The material sought in this request is specifically related to its investigation. More important, the confidentiality of the investigation results should be maintained and can be maintained only if the requested subpoena is issued ex parte.

The subpoena requested that LensCrafters produce:

1. [Don’s] work schedule(s) for the period of his employment with LensCrafters
2. any and all disciplinary records or incidents reports concerning or involving [Don]
3. any and all records of customer complaints concerning or involving [Don]
4. any performance evaluations of Don

The subpoena was not limited to Don’s employment records with the Owings Mills location. In fact, Gutierrez’s motion identified Don as an “employee of the Hunt Valley Lenscrafters store.” All records concerning Don’s employment at LensCrafters should have been produced, but the Hunt Valley location was the only store that the defense identified by name.

The court granted the defense’s request, and the LensCrafters subpoena remained under seal, undisclosed to the prosecution:

Docket Report - Ex Parte Motion Granted

Undisclosed to the prosecution in theory, anyway. On October 4, 1999, LensCrafters produced certified copies of Don’s employment records to the defense, including copies of Don’s timecards for the relevant period. On the same date, however, LensCrafters also produced copies of those same documents to Urick. Somehow, Urick discovered that the defense had issued a subpoena to LensCrafters, and responded by filing one of his own.

There is no indication as to how Urick learned of the defense’s subpoena, filed ex parte and under seal. It could easily have been a mistake, with someone accidentally serving papers they should not have served; that happens often enough. What happened next is harder to explain, however.

In the October 4, 1999 production from LensCrafters, only a single timecard was produced for Don for the week of Jan. 9 – Jan. 16th for work done at the Owings Mills Mall store (as indicated by the store number).  That timecard showed that Don did not work  on either Tuesday, January 12th, or Wednesday, January 13th:

Don's Timecard - Initial Production from LensCrafters

Two days later, on October 6th, LensCrafters sent a second package to Gutierrez in response to the subpoena, this time providing a single additional document that was not contained in the earlier round of production. Unlike the previous round of production, this time LensCrafters included an explanatory cover letter, which informed Gutierrez that, “In response to your subpoena requesting Don[‘s] time keeping records, please find enclosed, an additional time keeping record.” This time, pursuant to a “thorough search of LensCrafters’ records pertaining to Don[ ],” LensCrafters was able to discover a record that was not found when LensCrafters made its previous production on October 4th:

Don's Timecard - Additional Production from LensCrafters

This timecard, from the Hunt Valley store, showed that Don did work from 9:02 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on January 13th, with a lunch break from 1:10 p.m. to 1:42 p.m. He also worked on Saturday, January 16th, from 9:18 a.m. to 1:06 p.m. (Intriguingly, and in contrast to every other timecard produced by LensCrafters, Don was credited for working 4 hours on Saturday, despite time entries showing he had only clocked in for 3 hours and 48 minutes.) Other than this single timecard, no further records concerning the Hunt Valley location were produced.

Or at least no further records were produced to the defense. Additional records were produced to the prosecution, however. On October 7, 1999, LensCrafters sent a second production package to Urick, accompanied by the following cover letter:

LensCrafters - October 7 Cover Letter

The October 7, 1999 letter has two primary points of interest. First, Sandra the paralegal  noted that, at some point, she and Urick communicated directly by telephone and discussed the existence of additional timecards from the Hunt Valley store. This phone call presumably occurred some time in the preceding three days, as no such conversation was referenced in LensCrafters’ October 4th production to Urick. Because no similar call was also made to the defense, it appears that Urick took the initiative of contacting LensCrafters, rather than vice versa. Following Urick’s call to LensCrafters, they seem to have ‘found’ an “additional time keeping record” they had previously overlooked. This newly discovered timecard was then sent to the defense, without comment, on October 6th.

Second, Sandra went out of the way in her letter to Urick to stress that the general manager of the Hunt Valley store was, in Sandra’s words, “Donald’s mother.” There was no reason for her to do so, other than that she apparently found this fact relevant — relevant enough to  receive extra emphasis in her cover letter to Urick.

Urick apparently did not share this view. That Don’s mother was the general manager was never introduced at trial.

In addition to the concerns raised by the cover letter accompanying the “additional” timecard, I also have concerns about the timecard itself. For the following reasons, its origins seem questionable:

(1) The Employee Numbers. Don’s employment number on the Hunt Valley timecard was #0097. The employment number for Don’s mother was #0110. Since employee numbers were assigned sequentially by employment date, this would indicate that Don was hired before his mother. This is certainly possible, but given that Don was an 18-year-old new-hire on 7/12/97, it seems unlikely that he would have been hired (at a minimum) several months ahead of his mother, who was the store’s general manager.

(2) Who was the “friend [Don] arranged . . . to fill in for at the store in Hunt Valley”? Don worked as a Lab Tech for LensCrafters, usually at the Owings Mills Mall location. In Episode 12 of Serial, Don said that on January 13, 1999 he was not at the Owings Mills Mall store, because he had “arranged to fill in for a friend at the store in Hunt Valley.”

However, the weekly schedule for the Hunt Valley store showed that no lab techs were scheduled to work at 9am on January 13, 1999. The only three lab employees on the schedule were Charles (the Lab Supervisor) and Kevin and Mark (Lab Techs). Although Charles began work at 9 a.m., his timecards show that he worked his full shift that day, which means Don could only have been filling in for either Kevin, who was scheduled to work from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., or Mark, who was scheduled to work from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Why, then, would Don have needed to be loaned to the Hunt Valley store to work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m  when no lab tech was scheduled to work that shift? It does not appear that Hunt Valley had any need for lab techs to start work at 9 a.m. on January 13th — in fact, from Monday through Thursday, no lab tech began work at the Hunt Valley store before 11 a.m.

(3) Why did Don work the same shift he usually worked at the Owings Mills Mall store? Although 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. was not a shift that any lab tech worked at the Hunt Valley store during the week that Don worked there, it was a shift that Don frequently worked at the Owings Mills Mall store:

Don's Timecard - Week of 1-9-99

So if Don was filling in for a tech at Hunt Valley, none of whom worked a 9-to-6 shift, why did Don work that shift at Hunt Valley on January 13th?

(4) Where is Don’s overtime pay? Don’s timecard shows he received no overtime pay for the week of 1/16/99. However, with his shifts at Owings Mills and Hunt Valley combined, he worked 45.9 hours that week.. Why was he not credited for the extra time? If Don’s manager at Owings Mills, CM, could instantly review Don’s work records at the Hunt Valley store — as her interview with O’Shea implies — and if Don was “on loan” to the Hunt Valley store, then it is difficult to see how federal overtime laws would not have applied to his situation.

(5) How did Don manage the shifts at both stores on January 16th? According to the timecards, on Saturday, January 16, 1999, Don worked at Hunt Valley from 9:18 a.m. to 1:06 p.m., and then at Owings Mills Mall from 1:29 p.m. to 9:57 p.m. This means that twenty-three minutes after physically clocking out at the Hunt Valley store, Don had driven to Owings Mills, parked his car, gotten into the store, and clocked in again. This timeline is within the realm of physical possibility, but just barely – as Hunt Valley and Owings Mills are 23 minutes apart, going at the speed limit.

(6) Don’s employment records suggest cause for additional scrutiny of his timecards. A review of Don’s employee records should have suggested to both the defense and the prosecution that the oddities in Don’s timecards warranted closer consideration. For instance, an employee review from June 1999 noted that Don “need[ed] to understand the possible consequences of falsifying company documents”:


Other employee reviews, such as one from February 1999, referenced undisclosed ‘integrity issues’ that had undermined the trust of his coworkers:


Don does not like to admit mistakes, making it difficult to learn from them. This also undermines the confidence and trust the associates have in him because of possible integrity issues.


Don’s quality of interactions with others is not always positive. . . Don is quick to place blame, & does not wish to take personal responsibility. Don needs to calmly communicate to the associates what [?] they should be concerned with. Don must also realize that when he is agitated he will not be able to communicate positively to the associates. Body language is very important. One must remain calm and appear unflappable even in the most difficult situations.


Don needs to begin building trust with fellow associates. Don needs to understand that this can be accomplished by supporting associates instead of pointing out negatives. One way is to remain calm and show control when things are difficult in the lab.

What Don’s Unverified Alibi Shows

First, I want to stress again that I do not believe Don had any involvement whatsoever in Hae’s death, not is there evidence to suggest that he did. The only difference between Don and Adnan was Jay; without Jay’s (inconsistent and often incoherent) statements, Don and Adnan had exactly the same evidence stacked against them. Both had witnesses who gave statements indicating that they may have had access to Hae at the time of her disappearance (although the only witness who saw Adnan and Hae together uniformly said that Adnan had not gotten a ride with Hae; both Debbie and the note in Hae’s car were believed by investigators to show that Hae had been on her way to see Don when she went missing). And both had alibis that were suggestive but not 100% confirmed by the police investigation.

An unverified alibi is not evidence that an alibi is false, however. Although Don’s timecards do have unexplained oddities, even if it were shown that this documentation had been created after the fact to confirm his alibi for Hae’s murder, that would not mean Don was not actually at work that day (or, even if he hadn’t been at work, that he had been involved in the murder). What it does mean is that the investigators’ focus on Adnan as their sole suspect caused them to overlook even the most basic investigatory steps, such as verifying the victim’s boyfriend’s alibi. The investigators did not undertake any efforts that were not aimed squarely at proving Adnan’s guilt, and aside from taking the minimum effort necessary to exclude both Don and Mr. S as suspects, no one else was ever investigated as a suspect in Hae’s murder.


402 thoughts on “Serial: The Question of Don’s Alibi

  1. “I do not believe Don had any involvement whatsoever in Hae’s death, not is there evidence to suggest that he did.”

    -So, you create an entire rambling blog post about… nothing to do with Don and his connection to Hae’s death? Great work!

    I look forward to your blistering expose on the “Hot-Fries” bag really being “Doritos”.


    • You are so intent on relaying a tone of snark that you glossed over the point of the post which SS so clearly stated. It seems likely that you fully understand her point but are so intent on being snarky that you chose to play dumb. Bravo.

    • I think Susan has to say this in case theres somebody out there, (like you perhaps?) who wants to slap her with some kind of law suit for defamation or libel or whatever the legalese term is.

      • It’s not that at all. There’s no more credible evidence that Don committed this murder than Adnan did. It’s just that the ironic result of the State’s investigation into this case is that Adnan’s alibi is far better supported by the evidence than Don’s is.

        • How is this ironic or even a half-truth that Don’s alibi (physical evidence, that which you can touch and cite) is lesser than Adnan’s alibi which no one has shown any physical evidence of. Just Asia’s hearsay? You should really rethink your statement.

          • Awesome. So does that mean if Adnan’s mum writes a note that he didn’t do it because he was very busy saying his prayers that day, you’ll agree he should be released? She could use a letterhead and even some nice textured paper for when you want to touch it. Save me, I know I should ignore the trolls but argh.

          • Adnan had multiple people confirm his whereabouts and the interlocking content of their statements lends support to his alibi (ex: his track coach thinks he was at track and remembers discussing with that Adnan that he would be leading prayers next day, mosque confirms he lead prayers 01/14).

            Don has no witnesses and a dodgy time card (for all the reasons above). That is not to say that Don did it, but that the lack of investigation into him means that no one can ever know how solid his alibi really would have been or how the inconsistencies in his time card could gave been explained away

          • It is ironic because Adnan has spent 15 years in prison with an alibi as good as Don’s.

          • She also means the Coach Sye’s alibi. Sye had remembered seeing Adnan, early for track practice on the first nice day of the month (they finally could have practice outdoors). And for reasons that are better explained elsewhere, it’s shown to be that the only day that could possibly have happened was on the day of Hae’s murder. So, if Gutierrez had better addressed that in court, it was really a slam dunk of an alibi.

        • Jay led police to the car AND told them Adnan did it. If the police had continued to spend time and money investigating another suspect who did not know Jay, they would have been the worst detectives ever. I get that you don’t believe a word Jay says. I don’t really get this since most witnesses in criminal cases who are snitching tell a lot of lies (and a lot of truths too). But it doesn’t really matter since the jury felt differently.

          I have yet to see you disprove that Jay led the police to the car. Do you not agree that that information should have focused the police’s attention on someone connected to Jay? If not, why?

          • Jay didn’t show up until February 28th. The cops had settled on Adnan by February 11th, and had convened a grand jury to indict him by February 16th. At that time, there was nothing to link Adnan to the murder whatsoever — and yet they were content to pursue a single suspect for weeks, when the victim’s boyfriend had an alibi no one had bothered to actually confirm? Even though the last known person to see the victim said that she was on her way to see the boyfriend? Are you actually defending that as a legit investigative decision?

            And I wouldn’t be so confident about Jay informing the cops where the car was. The “official story” of this investigation only occasionally matches the reality.

          • The website won’t seem to let me reply to your response. Anyway, yes, I think it was legitimate for the police to focus on Adnan based on his status as the recent ex-bf, his changing story about the ride request (which was probably a HUGE red flag for them), and the anonymous tip.

            Maybe I am mistaken, but I thought you have always maintained that Jay is involved. So, the police focused on Adnan for above reasons, his cell records led them to Jenn, who led them to Jay, who confirmed that Adnan gave him the car and phone that day (which Adnan does not deny). So, whether you think that Jay framed Adnan to cover up his involvement or that he and Jay both were involved in the murder, the police certainly were correct in their instinct not to pursue Don, who’d been dating Hae for a matter of weeks and with whom there had been no apparent conflict and who was never placed at WHS with Hae right before she disappeared. If Jay later led them astray (in your view), that still doesn’t support the position that they should have been wasting their time and effort on Don.

          • I’m continually perplexed that people continue cite these two things as if they amount to something incontrovertible.

            Say you and I go to a movie. Before or after I’m involved in the murder of someone you know, including the disposal of the victim’s car. A month later the body is discovered. I tell the cops that you did and to prove it I’ll take them to the victim’s car. I’m your only alibi for that 2 and ½ hours that we went to the movie — I tell the cops your plan for an alibi was buying tickets the movie and committing the murder during that time.

            So… how does that fact that I knew where a murder victim’s car was parked substantiate my claim that you were the murderer?

          • Jay leading police to the car is yet another instance in this case, where it is being questioned if indeed he did lead them to her car. That car, from crime scene pictures, had not set in that location for 6 weeks. Jay and the cops drove around a bit before they were lead to her car……like they were feeing him info on where it was located.

        • I still cannot get over the fact that Jay knew where the car was parked and that he fingered Adnan. If Don was the murderer then why would Jay say Adnan did it? Unless Don & Jay was in on the murder together. But it has never been shown that these two knew each other

          • No one is saying that Don did it. Susan is trying to demonstrate a pattern of flaws in the investigation, including the failure to adequately investigate Don’s whereabouts

          • After listening to the interview with the inmates on Undisclosed, how Jay new about the whereabouts of Hae’s car seems reasonable. It may not make sense to some but to those men, who’s lives’ experiences are different than mine and maybe yours, it made complete sense that Jay would know where Hae’s car was. Their thoughts were-when you’re the local drug dealer you’re all over the place, you know where everything is. That was a given to them. That may not seem logical to some but that’s because you’re comparing your life’s experiences with something you can’t relate to. Try, for a second, to stop thinking everything is the way you’ve lived it. Sorry, Truth, the rant at the end wasn’t directed at you. Really. I get frustrated when I read people who’s view of the world is so limited and believe that if it doesn’t make sense to them then it can’t be real. After reading a bit of the other replies here I’ve become a little annoyed. But I wanted to point out how interesting it was that Jay’s knowledge of where Hae’s car was is a nonissue to the inmates. To them it was obvious why and not at all surprising. I’m still not sure he actually took the police to the car and not the other way around. I mean, has there ever been an answer to why the tags were run in a different area than where it was found? But, if we pretend that it’s a solid fact that Jay knew where the car was the people who can relate to Jay’s life experiences better than I can see that as a given. As I’m writing this it dawns on me that if you’ve (a general you) has never lived in a large urban area without a vehicle you may have a hard time understanding this. If you’ve always lived in a suburb and drive the same basic routes everyday it would seem strange to you. But for just a moment, consider that the entire world doesn’t experience things the exact same way you do.

        • I’m sure you noticed that the employee numbers for Don differ, one is 0097, the other 0162. It’s also interesting that Don didn’t return Adcock’s call til 1:30 am the morning of Jan.14th. What was he doing? If he did kill Hae, this time lapse would fit with the lividity evidence.

          • the body was found before jay gave any testimony. the only information jay supposedly provided police was the location of the car. but if the police found the car, they could just as easily told jay where they found it for his “testimony”.

    • Because you seem simple, I’ll give you the tl;dr:

      The investigation of Hae Min Lee’s murder sucked. Adnan has legal appeals in the works. If an appeal is granted the state can try him again or decide not to try him again because the evidence against him is so shitty. Susan’s post is adding to the mountain of evidence that the initial investigation was so weak that reasonable doubt could be easily achieved on a retrial. You’re welcome.

    • Seems like since all the intelligent people left reddit they all decided to congregate here. This post is clear: Don is not on trial, the prosecution is. Perhaps if they had actually investigated Don, he would be on trial. We may never know. That’s the point.

      • Did you read the post? If they had investigated Don they would have found he was working and could not have killed Hae on January 13th. However, “according to records on file”, they did not properly investigate Don and confirm his alibi.

        • Don’s work records are hinky for a variety of reasons-no overtime, etc.-so if he had been investigated the police may have found that he wasn’t at work.

    • Are you spastic? Does she owe you anything? Did anyone force you to read this? No? Then move the fuck on you keyboard warrior. Because everyone else here appreciates susans hardwork and amazing insight.

    • These posts are in fact, great work.

      However, I agree with the sentiment that the author should not undermine the reasonable doubt she creates by statements such as:
      “I do not believe Don had any involvement whatsoever in Hae’s death, nor is there evidence to suggest that he did.”

      1) One is entitled to personal belief and should be weighted accordingly
      2)There is evidence to suggest he was not where he said he was that day. While one can not say that this alone suggests he had involvement, it does not suggest otherwise, either.

      I think the issues w/ reddit-res is scaring authors to provide unusually precautious statements, but I think editorializing is unnecessary in such a well researched blog.

      • The author provides evidence that Don was working and could not have killed Hae on Jan 13th. Why would she have any reason to believe Don killed Hae?

        • er..except they subsequently found that its doubtful that he WAS working and his mum (yes! his MOM!!) was store manager and could easily have doctored the time cards. Now, what were you saying again?

    • I have to disagree with Jim Gordon, who appears to have the same communication skills assigned to Don in his work assessments. Overly aggressive, narrow, angry, too personal. The blog represents necessary detective work and teh work is brilliant. It should have been done by the police and everyone investigated equally. Why didn’t Don’s cell records get checked, why only Adnan.

      Seems Jim Gordon also suffers from the narrowmindeness of the Baltimore police, they made up their minds and were not willing to really listen to anything else. The only difference as Susan said between Adnan and Don is Jay.

      What eveidence have you Jim Gordon that the Jays story is not just completely made up with the help of the police? Why do you not want to entertain the fact that Adnan was framed?

      The comments appear to be borne out of ignorance of the evidence unfolding over the last few months. Any person who has taken the time to really study and understand the new evidence, would not be so angry or condemning. The post is a result of ignorance of the facts and a closed mind.

      Thank goodness Susan there are people like you in this world, and you are rare, who are willing to expose the truth and to do it in a balanced and unbiased manner. It appears that people reading this blog and hurling stones at the great work of Susan Simpson are undermining the level of detail that is needed before conclusions are drawn.

        • No, they weren’t. The police didn’t check the phone records of anyone who wasn’t Muslim or Pakistani.

          So you agree the police should have checked Don’s phone records?

          • So I see you delete my comments you can’t answer, but keep the ones you think you can easily disprove? Way top be open to different opinions.

          • I’m not deleting your comments because of the subject matter — different opinions are welcome, but hostile and trollish comments are not. If you think your viewpoint is worth sharing, find a way to phrase it constructively.

          • Is my understanding correct that the BPD never checked Hae’s Pager records either? This seems basic. Particularly if Hae got a page during school that changed her plans which appears to have happened.

      • I realize I’m a little late in reading and replying to this particular post but something just came to mind.

        If Don’s travel from the one store to the other store on the same day was completed (but just barely) in 23 minutes, did the duplicate drive made by your team take into consideration the weather conditions on the 16th of January, 1999?

        If I recall, there was a major snow and ice storm that started a few hours before sunrise on the 14th of January. (04:30 time frame comes to mind.)

        How easy would it have been to:
        A. Walk across the parking lot at one mall if there were, possibly, still remnants of the snow storm a couple days ago.
        B. Drive on the frozen rain and snowy streets. Then
        C. Walk across the parking lot at the other mall, with possibly the same snow and frozen rain surface as the first mall, and still manage to clock in twenty-three minutes later?

        I realize the point I am bringing up is probably moot now, but it’s just another angle that Don’s time sheets were falsified.

          • According to Hunt Valley time card Don worked on 13 & 16 Jan. His Owings Mill time card shows him starting work at OM on 16 Jan approx 20 mins after clocking off at HV store. If Don couldn’t possibly travel from HV to OM store within the times reflected on the two time cards it gives weight to the theory that the HV store time card was falsified.

          • OK, but here’s something to think about, these records were subpoenaed. That means that upper management at Lens Crafters would have been made aware of them. I’ve worked in jobs in retail stores. Companies are not keen on paying for work that wasn’t actually done.

            So as interesting as the falsification of records might be to those exploring Don’s alibi, imagine how much interest Lens Crafter would have in uncovering the falsification of these time cards. Because if the timecards were falsified it would likely mean that Don was getting paid for work he didn’t do.

            If this was a possibility than someone in upper-management at Lens Crafters would have investigated the matter. Not necessarily because of Hae’s murder, but because falsifying your timesheet is a form of embezzlement. And if managers were directly involved in the embezzlement, then you have a big problem.

            Everyone involved with this embezzlement would either have been fired or allowed to resign. From everything I’ve read Don and his “mothers” maintained their positions at Lens Crafters well after the murder of Hae.

            Where there ISN’T smoke–as in, no one lost their job over the timesheets matter—then there is very little chance of fire.

            The proof that Don’s timecard was probably just fine, is in the fact that Lens Crafter didn’t seem to have any issue with it.

            Corporations do not allow their employees to blatantly steal from them. Game Set Match.

          • Don’s TimeSheet:

            Something I haven’t seen is the actual subpoena for Don’s work records.

            As in, who received the subpoena? An individual (highly unlikely)? or someone in the corporate office. Usually in a large company the subpoena is delivered to corporate headquarters, and then corporate counsel or the legal team have on retainer will review the subpoena, prior to it being complied with.

            At that point, those employees who can answer the subpoena will be summoned to do so. I’ve never heard of a subpoena being delivered to an employee directly.

            In some cases corporations will file a motion to quash the subpoena.if they feel there is a liability for them or it is in contradiction to their policies.

            There are liabilities possible with giving out personal information about employees. So chances are good that someone high up at Lens Crafters was fully aware of what was being asked for.

            I’d like to see the subpoena and who it was directed to. Has this been published?

          • This is in response to Kat from Dec 12, 2015 (in case anyone is still reading these):

            It’s pretty clear that Don falsified his time and was paid for hours he didn’t work. Not because of the time card that used a different employee number (which AFAIK was also a blatant violation of company policy that could have gotten people fired), but because his supervisors basically said so in his employee evaluations that Susan also posted. Apparently none of the employees who knew about Don’s falsifications were fired (including him).

    • Great stuff Susan. Since the GM of the Hunt Valley store put emphasis on Don’s mother was the manager. Has anyone interviewed her since? She seems like she was asking to be questioned back than.

      • Seems like Sandra L ____ paralegal should be interviewed. Besides her clearly pointing out the alibi was Don’s mother, I also find Don’s disciplinary notes to be a bit of a red flag. Maybe a small matter, but when an employer writes down a behavior problem that many times…there is usually a significant issue.

        • When I was roped into this Adnan vs the State case I just happened to be reseaching psychopathy. Don definitely has many psychopathic traits. He needed a very close examination by law enforcement.

          • Can you explain? Do you just mean the criticisms in the performance records or is there more information available on what Don was like as a person?

    • Your a jerk, she made her point that there was ample reason to be suspicious of Dons’ alibi! However the last line was heal-funny!

    • Once again it clearly states her views on Don are that she personally does not believe he did it. However, she is pointing out the flaws in this investigation and obviously reasonable doubt!. You do not have to prove who did it just that there are other possibilities.
      I personally find Don’s story to be very shady. Again not that I am firm on he is the one who did it but again that we may never know as the investigation was poor and that the police had their my minds made up early on.

  2. Great writing. Points out how the “guys like us” (read subtle racism) code played into the investigation. I think knowing for certain Hae’s plan would have helped solve this crime alot sooner.

  3. Hi Susan,
    I admire the great lengths you have gone to investigate this case. It’s shameful the way this murder was handled and the example you made of the lack of investigation on Don shines a spotlight on that shame. The detectives in this case did a disservice not only to Hae and Adnan, but also to other people like Don who probably had nothing to do with the murder but the lack of investigation allows for suspicion to remain.

    You are fantastic!

    • I completely agree. I don’t know whether Don had any involvement – but now I see how many people suspect he may have. The police investigation (not confirming dates/times with actual coworkers who would have physically been present with him on January 13th) actually does a disservice to Don. The time card will always be questionable and unreliable because there was nothing done to back it up in 1999, as suspicious as it was.

      Regardless of how the police/investigators failed to confirm alibis for Adnan – they also failed to confirm the alibis for Don, which doesn’t serve either person well.

      • eeg,

        “Regardless of how the police/investigators failed to confirm alibis for Adnan – they also failed to confirm the alibis for Don, which doesn’t serve either person well.”

        I totally agree with you on this. But I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment regarding the reliability of Don’s alibi.

        Though limited, I have had some direct experience working with legal counsel for large corporations. The fact that the timesheet submitted showing Don worked on Jan. 13 was presented by Lens Crafter’s legal department or counsel ( I don’t know if they had in-house or a firm on retainer) leads me to believe that this information can be relied on.

        Here’s why:

        Lens Crafters at the time of Hae’s murder had recently been purchased by an Italian corporation. It was not a franchised business, but had corporate headquarters, an international footprint and is a billion dollar entity. I’ve worked with civil attorneys, criminal attorneys and civil rights attorneys and I’ve personally never seen lawyers more devoted to their clients than those who represent large corporations. Not saying the other guys are devoted, but attorneys who represent huge corporations are a breed unto themselves. They have one job and that is to protect their very deep-pocketed client. They are well paid and it seems unlikely they would be intimidated in any way by some DA out of Baltimore.

        There is no good reason for these attorneys to be complicit in fabricating a false alibi and too many reasons to list here as to why this complicity might prove extremely disadvantageous for them.

        The fact that the timesheet comes for LensCrafter corporate attorneys lends makes it probable in my mind that the timesheet was vetted in some way before it was handed over.

        Again, LensCraters has no dog in this fight. What to they care if Urich wins a conviction? They just want to be in compliance.

        My guess is that Don’s alibi is solid.

        And I disagree with this notion of interviewing store managers for info. on this. Of course, a manager of Lens Crafter is not going to publically admit they fudged records. Or that this kind of thing goes on. The only place I can imagine that one could get confirmation as to the validity of this alibi is via Lens Crafter’s legal department.

        • Think this through. One store out of a thousand has an employee that has falsified records in the past based on his performance appraisal. His mom is a manager and I am sure she influenced the GM to give her kid a break. Someone in corporate’s legal division is not reading everyone of these performance appraisals. There simply is not enough time and the legal division is paid way too much to spend hours on those type matters. If anyone at corporate reviewed them, it would be HR but I doubt they read everyone of them.

          Now a subpoena comes in for time cards etc. The corporate attorneys have no reason to obstruct this request and I doubt they gave it much thought other than okaying (assuming they did) to release the records. They may have even looked over the records but not noticed the fraud. Their legal team had no reason to put that much time into this. What do they care as long as they are cooperating with the order? There were no legal ramifications from releasing Don’s employment records in responsible to a legal subpoena.

          Either way, LE should have went to the store and privately took statements from each employee that was supposedly working at Hunt Valley on the 13th and 16th. That would have been properly gum shoeing. LE was lazy and really uninterested in vetting this thing out. How much work would they have put in if it was the mayor’s daughters or some rich white guys daughter. They would have dotted every I and crossed every T which is what they should do in every case. By citizens accepting less and excusing away poor police work, we are a contributing factor to the problem.

          Sad thing is, we may never know beyond a reasonable doubt, who killed Hae.

  4. Glad you mentioned this Susan, I was worried about the almost non-existence of Don as a person of interest. (And if all the testimonies of his employers and Hae’s girlfriends ‘not liking’ him add up to anything, it certainly does look like he may have had something to do with her death.)
    Thanks for your dedication and integrity!

    • it certainly does look like he may have had something to do with her death

      But it doesn’t. The ease with which innocuous facts can be woven into a narrative of guilt is scary, and that completely applies to Don. He should have been investigated, but the State’s failure is a mark against the State, not against him.

      • Ok I take your point. But the fact that he WASN’T followed up on and instead the (white?racist?) Baltimore cops focussed entirely on Adnan is truly apalling. If I were the detective I would certainly have had doubts about Don’s timelines and alibis. Especially as he was Hae’s current boyfriend.

      • Something that surprises me though is how two different officers interviewed Don and they both noted how nonchalant he was about the situation. That they felt like he didn’t care about Hae as much as she did him. Yes, that happens in high school relationships, don’t get me wrong. But if you’re dating someone and they disappear, wouldn’t you worry? Even if you think they went to California to live with their dad, wouldn’t you think it hurtful? Especially after they spend so much time together and speak so much on the phone? They seemed like the kind of couple that wouldn’t go a day without contacting each other.

        • 100% agree with this…how is it that his girlfriend just disappears and he’s like oh okay, guess she moved to California. What?!
          And definitely with previous posters as well: mom being manager, seemingly falsified time sheets, insufficient time to get from one job to the other, consistently negative performance reviews, comments from friends that he didn’t like his gf’s friends and that he’d been abusive towards her friend once? How does that not merit a deeper look??? Especially when all we have against Adnan are: He was her ex, and testimony from a lying criminal who 1. Received counsel through the prosecution, 2. changed his story/seemed to be led on by detectives, 3. got his criminal charges wiped once he testified against Adnan. What?!

  5. In the podcast when Deidre says “and why is Don of no interest to anyone?” I shouted “Thank you!” at my iPod. Not that I thought Don had anything to do with Hae’s murder, but I got the feeling he hadn’t been looked at very thoroughly. And, well, now we can see he wasn’t.

    I worked for a retailer around this same time that used the same timekeeping system as Lens Crafters. I know this because a co-worker had just left Lens Crafters and told me our company used the same program. The timekeeping system was so easily manipulated, it was almost laughable. An “in” or “out”–as we called them–could be created/edited/deleted by a manager and there’d be no record of that change. Mangers were known to “add” time or “skim” time for myriad reasons–to keep payroll down, to help a friend with extra unworked time,etc. It was easy to do and untraceable; therefore, Don’s mom being his manager alone should’ve been a big deal to the detectives, even if his unemotional attitude or lack of concern about Hae missing weren’t a red flag.

    • I’d like to add to this comment. I’ve worked places with multiple systems and the same was true in all of them. One system even required a scan of our fingerprint to clock in and out. This was easily overridden by managers. A manager could still adjust in and out times and not only would there be no record, but there was no indication the input came manually, as opposed to when the input came from a digital fingerprint scan.

      • Thank you for adding that. I think if someone hasn’t used one of those timekeeping systems they don’t realize how easily those systems can be manipulated. In the podcast when I heard “Lens Crafters” and “computer-generated time card” and “Mom was his manager” I thought, oh no, please tell me they did a thorough check of his alibi.

        • In your experience, would those store systems track the time correctly across different stores? I’m trying to understand how a computerized time card system wouldn’t need to accumulate all of the times at different stores so employees could be paid properly.

          • To determine that, it might be necessary to know the software used by LensCrafters at that time.
            Often, employee records can only be assigned to exactly one organisational unit (in this case: stores). Two employee records may also have been necessary e.g. for statistics for the single stores.
            That would explain the two different employee numbers and additionally the lack of overtime payment for that week (he had overtime in neither of the stores, only if added). It would be interesting to know if Don received two different payments for that week, representing one store each.

          • yes, the system would track time for an employee across all stores–if the employee is using only one log in (employee number). If Don had logged in at HV under his OM ID then the record for the week of 1/16 could be printed out as one cohesive week (if the person printing the timecard had selected “all locations” or something like that). Don’s using two different associate numbers makes no sense to me, especially two numbers that are so far apart in range. #97 for HV and #162 for OM (which is likely his proper associate #). That’s a wide gap considering the associate numbers are assigned sequentially. I have a few theories about what’s going on with that. Nothing nefarious, but definitely each one I come up with is a bit sketchy. To Susan’s point, the detectives never go this far in their investigation of Don, because if they had, there would’ve been some major red flags.

          • Yes! If they had properly vetted this, they could’ve asked for pay stubs for those weeks right? Which would show whether or not he received payment for hours worked? It makes no sense at all to have a different employee number – how would he get paid OT ever if he had different numbers? This is literally illegal from a federal wage perspective.

    • Bit if you look at the Owing Mills time card there is a record of a change. There is the actual time card and an adjusted one, which seems to have been done because Don returned very late from lunch on the 14th (forgot to sign in maybe?). So the adjustments by managers do seem to be noted.

      • Yeah, you’re right. I should’ve been clearer…it shows changes on Don’s time cards, one from tuesday the week of 1/9 where it looks like he forgot to clock in when he arrived and one from thursday the week of 1/16 where it looks as though he forgot to clock back in for a while after he was back from lunch and then had to be adjusted back. The problem I remember with this particular system (bc the company I worked for was eventually sued for some issues revolving around this timekeeping system) was that the changes were not time-stamped, meaning the change could’ve been made that day, two days later, three weeks later, six months later, and also there was no way to know with any certainty who had made the change. The employee him/herself had the capability of making changes in that system. It was a very flawed and basic time keeping system, very much an honor system sort of thing–employees were trusted not to do anything funny, but they often did.

  6. Susan, Could you quickly confirm that Hae’s friend Debbie and Deborah, the Sales Supervisor, are not the same individual?

  7. Hi Susan, I’m curious as to why your blog focuses on tearing down the state’s case rather than trying to prove Adnan’s innocence. I don’t mean any criticism; I’m just curious regarding your interest and expertise in the case.

    • It seems to me that the point of this blog is to look at the evidence and draw conclusions. There is value in it. To hold our public defenders accountable will mean an improvement in our justice system. Adnan has a legal team working to prove his innocence, or at the very least, prove he did not get a fair enough trial to remain in prison. To do that, they also have a value for anyone who can tear apart the case against him. I also imagine she wants to remain professional, but I cannot speak for her, I can only say that as someone who has followed her blog almost from the beginning, the purpose is not to prove Adana is innocent, though that may happen as we follow the evidence, or at the very least cast that shadow of doubt, which is all that is required to win a case. You do not have to prove your innocence on trial, they have to prove your guilt. And the prosecution seems to have failed to do that with actual evidence and credible witnesses. One of her first posts does an amazing job of setting the stage for all her future posts by discussing the “evidence” against Adnan and what it means.
      I’m sure Susan would be thrilled to find the hard evidence that
      Adnan is innocent OR guilty…that would be awesome! But it has been 15 years and the investigation was shoddy to say the least. But she won’t speculate so much. She’s a lawyer, like Temperance Brennan, who won’t speculate. At least that is how I imagine her.

    • This question doesn’t even make sense to me, I’m not sure how to answer. If the state has no credible evidence of Adnan’s guilt and if there is evidence that Adnan has an alibi, how is that not evidence of Adnan’s innocence? The state’s inability to prove guilt isn’t some kind of technicality — it’s everything.

      • Not proving guilt, and proving innocence are, of course, different things. The state’s case could be completely fabricated and Adnan could still be guilty. But short of some quality fist shaking, the spottiness of the state’s case is a moot point. We are well beyond needing simply “reasonable doubt”. It is my understanding that that appeal has already come and gone. And there will be no heat laid at the feet of the prosecutor’s office because a decade and a half later, while we all may see reasonable doubt, we also see that Adnan is still reasonably tied to this crime. Who can possibly look at the facts and think that he is 100% (or even most likely) innocent?

        • > The state’s case could be completely fabricated and Adnan could still be guilty.

          I call this “framing the guilty”. In our system it is not enough to convict the truly guilty. The appearance of fairness and justice is just as important. The problems with framing the guilty are

          (1) The framers (those doing the framing) are essentially usurping the jury’s responsibility and power

          (2) The framers might be wrong.

          (3) the same framing techniques can be intentionally abused to convict the innocent.

          I’ll say it again: the state’s job is not merely to convict the truly guilty party but to maintain the appearance of fairness while trying to do so.

          @SSimpson: Thanks for your ongoing work. It is interesting as usual.

        • I look at the absolutely shoddy, incomplete, biased work done by detectives, as well as the nearly illegal work done by the prosecution (providing your star witness against Adnan’s counsel? Really?), and think who could possibly look at the facts and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s guilty?

    • I feel this entire comments section is an exercise in moving the goalposts.

      To quote Jay recently (of all people), “If Adnan didn’t do it, who did?”

      The answer, it turns out, is potentially a lot of people, because the state failed to properly investigate other theories instead of just trying to prove their case against Adnan.

      I think half the commentators here want Susan to post her Grand Theory of Everything, and that’s not how any kind of investigation works.

    • Proving Adnan’s innocence is likely not possible due to the fact that the narrative as to when Adnan killed Hae can be changed a multitude of times. This was discussed in the podcast; don’t remember what episode.

  8. Hi Susan, great job as usual! I wonder if you found any reason why Don appears to have had 2 different employees numbers. 097 on one card and 162 on the other card.
    And to the usual trolls, nice to see you are keeping up your tradition of being useless and stupid to boot.

    • Louise — I noticed that discrepancy straight away , too . In a retail environment your associate number is as connected to you as your SSN. I could think of no reason someone would have two different numbers unless there was a shady situation – – 40+hours going on and no OT pay– The establishment I worked for issued one associate i.d. and it was your link to everything important. Yep. Something is sketch on the timecards with his name, too .One says , “Don” , the other reads “Don ___”. This may not be crucial info but it makes me wonder if Mom knew what was going down.

        • The number of employees the company has is irrelevant. In a retail environment there is no legitimate reason Don should have (and be using) two associate numbers. That stinks to high heaven. Someone was gaming the system–LC ignoring Fed OT laws, Mom and the OM manager cooking the books for their store payroll budgets. There are several reasons he probably had two associate numbers, but none of them are completely on the up and up. Plus, his name is Don on one and Donald on the other, which looks shady all the way around.

          • I don’t have much knowledge of US business law/accounting practice but I imagine Mike is right about gaming the sytem.
            But the number of employees is irrelevant. The question to Susan was “I wonder if you found any reason why Don appears to have had 2 different employees numbers”. And the answer seems most likely to something systemic to do with Lenscrafters, rather than Don or his mother. By 1999 Lenscrafters will definitely have had more than 10k employees, so if each one had a unique number they would have had space for 5 or maybe 6 digit numbers on the timesheets. Both numbers for Don and the one for Hae are low 3 digits

      • It’s not the two different employee numbers that bothers me, in itself. I can buy that he’d have a different one for each store.

        What I can’t buy is that his employee number would be that much lower than that of his mother, the general manager. Nothing about that scenario makes sense.

        • I wondered whether it might be possible that he got assigned an available (but currently unused) number just because he was a sub that day? Like, the person who had the lower employee number was an employee hired before Don’s mum, but no longer worked there, so there was no employee 0097? Just an idea.

          • I know this is kind of a late reply to this, but I got interested in the time card issue after the recent serial dynasty and thought I’d put my two cents in. I used to float as a pharmacist for a major retail chain. I have my employee ID#, which is 7 digits long and is as connected to me as my SSN. But so that my badge will work at the registers at a new store, the manager has to register me at the new store with a store-specific 3-digit #. They just choose one that’s unoccupied, it isn’t ordered sequentially at all – you could use one of a terminated employee, for instance. If they want to give you managerial functions, such as being able to void a transaction at the register, your 3 digit number begins with an 8 or 9. This could explain why Don’s # at Hunt Valley is 97 and his mom’s is 110 – maybe managers had numbers beginning in 1.
            I’ve listened to Undisclosed and am firmly in the Free Adnan camp, and thank you Susan for your amazing work. If Im ever on trial for a crime I didn’t commit, you best believe I’ll be calling you! I do think the time card issue needs to be investigated more thoroughly, if possible. Half the job of store managers is to edit time sheets, because it’s hard to remember to clock in/out every time. It could be totally innocuous but is definitely not as airtight as the police made it out to be.

  9. Do we know what mall Hae was going to meet Don at? What if it was the same mall where Jay went to buy a gift for Stephanie and they met and something went wrong tgere with Don present or not.

    • Excellent thought, though off the cuff I can’t recall if the phone pings allow for the possibility of Jay having been at Hunt Valley some time between 3pm and 6pm. There is after all, if I remember correctly, nothing to confirm that Jay shopped for the gift in the morning as was indicated in one of the versions.
      The “Sorry I couldn’t stay” note has never been tied to an actual event – why would she write that if she never arrived at Hunt Valley? In your idea she could have gone early to Hunt Valley in an attempt to squeeze in a quick visit to Don without being encumbered by little cousin (blowing off actual 3.15pm pick-up time), and bumped into Jay there before of after seeing Don, and taken the opportunity to go off with Jay to get some weed or confront him over cheating on Stefanie. But that still doesn’t explain the note because had she seen Don (as the note suggests she did) then why would he deny having seen her after the night of the 12th when she was at his house?
      Could it be that Don didn’t actually work (as Susan’s post demonstrates was possible, with some time-card shenanigans to cover up that fact), Hae arrives to see him, they (Don’s mum??) tell her he’s “popped out” for a bit so she decides to leave and meets up with Jay for the weed/Stefanie issue. She writes the note back in the car, thinking to pop back quickly into the store to leave it, but never does because she gets embroiled with Jay….. resulting in him getting angry for some reason and “snapping”…..??
      Now someone figure out how in this scenario Jay gets Hae’s car to Leakin Park…. I saw Susan’s TV interview yesterday where she said Jay’s family was swarming with people involved in various crimes. Sounds like he would have had a lot of “go-to” helpers to choose from. I think it was a Rabia interview I heard a couple of days ago where she said that one reason Adnan doesn’t “talk smack” about Jay is because he is surrounded in prison by “people who are connected to Jay”.

  10. Her point: the investigation was terrible.

    The lack of a proper investigation into Don is just one other example of the faulty work in this case.

          • Well, that’s not confirmed — unlike Don, Adnan has no witnesses / electronic records placing him elsewhere. Also, there’s the whole lying-to-the-cops-about-intending-to-get-a-ride-with-a-person-at-the-time-she-was-presumably-murdered thing. Don doesn’t have that issue, either.

          • It’s confirmed by witness testimony, just as the “fact” that he asked for a ride is confirmed by witness testimony. Which is to say, in reality, each one is likely true but far from certain. I don’t know why you’re so obsessed by this piece of evidence, but it isn’t indicative of much.

          • – Mountain –

            No, it’s not confirmed — no one saw Hae leaving campus sans Adnan. And no, it’s hugely indicative. The guilty party is almost certainly someone who knew Jay and left campus in Hae’s car (the intercept scenarios are extremely implausible). So the fact that Adnan asked for a ride to nowhere (which he would never do — he knew that Hae had to pickup her cousin) when his car was sitting in the parking lot looks really bad.

          • It is confirmed. Witnesses recall Hae leaving by herself, and if she was by herself, she was necessarily sans Adnan. The fact that no one searched the car doesn’t mean it isn’t confirmed.

            Additionally, Asia places Adnan at the library at the same time other witnesses recall seeing Hae leave school by herself. Whether any or all of those witnesses are correct is another question.

            Finally the intercept/meeting scenario is only unlikely if the State is correct that Hae was killed at 2:36 or earlier, which she almost certainly was not. So, while your username is delightful, your theory of the case is as flawed as that of your namesake.

          • – Mountain –

            No, still wrong. The only one who claimed to see Hae anywhere near her car was Inez-Butler, and Susan has recently called her credibility into question. And yes, short of someone actually seeing Hae leaving campus sans Adnan, there’s a possibility that he was in her car at some point.

            Finally, my namesake was a brilliant/beautiful man, and the likelihood that Hae stopped somewhere and was murdered by some random person / acquaintance (who knows Jay, by the way) on the way to pickup her cousin is close to zero. No, short of some highly implausible chance encounter, the killer was tracking her before she left school.

          • RP, so you acknowledge that a witness saw Hae leave by herself. As I said before, whether that witness is correct is another question. Also, I haven’t gone digging through all the statements, but I believe another witness saw Adnan and Hae going in opposite directions shortly before Hae left school. So, while you can’t completely rule out the possibility that Adnan was in Hae’s car, it’s incredibly implausible. Your entire factual basis for suspecting Adnan is incredibly implausible. Way to invert the entire concept of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

          • – Mountain –

            The fact that no one saw Adnan in Hae’s car as she was leaving campus doesn’t make it “incredibly implausible” that he was. She was murdered in the middle of the day, likely in a public place, and no one saw it, yet it obviously still happened.

          • Wherever Hae was murdered was nowhere near as crowded as Woodlawn, and it wasn’t filled with people who knew Hae and Adnan. No one remembers seeing Adnan in Hae’s car because he wasn’t there. If he had been there, someone would have noticed and remembered. Feel free to re-join the reality-based community.

        • Why would Adnan ask Hae for a ride as an excuse to get in Hae’s car if he knew she couldn’t give him a ride because she had to pick up her cousin? It’s a pretty poor plan – as you acknowledge.

          • somewhere I remember hearing that he often got a ride from her or others to track practice because the track was not close to the high school

        • There was also witness testimony that overheard her tell him that she couldn’t give him a ride because she had something else to do, and that he replied “oh okay, no problem I’ll find a ride elsewhere.” Why ignore that whole testimony?

  11. This is valuable info and the type of investigating that will lead to leads and more facts. I wonder where/when/why he assaulted a girl.

    Also interesting to note that Don’s dad was a cop.

    ‘If in my face i look like a Khan, does that make me a con? I wish I could just waive a wand, and grow some blonde hair like Don. My alibi is my mom, my daddy’s a cop – that’s it, the questioning stops’ – what Adnan would say if he was a rapper

    • Don’s dad is not a cop. There is another person with the same name whose Dad is a cop, hence the confusion on this matter.

    • Don’s father is not a cop. I thought he was too and I am pretty sure I heard that in the podcast, but, please make up another rap – bc that was great!

      • “Who’s to believe, and why? Do I trust a guy at the end of his fast, or a lying drug dealer who buys nickel bags…? Can we go for the hatrick, mayyybe ask Patrick?

        Hmm, do I prefer a guy who testifies, but gets on the stand and lies? and changes his story multiple times? Or am I to trust the guy who smoked some pot then went to the mosque? and why?

        To be young, vilified, and quiet – or open, outspoken, and defiant? I’d say Syed needs some advising. She’s a pitbull on the pant leg of what? I said I did, did I not? what???”

        – what a Juror would say if the juror was a rapper

  12. Investigators were going to pin this murder on Adnan before Hae (may her soul rest in peace) was even murdered.

    Urick, Mac Gill., Ritz and the rest of the scumbags will all have to answer to the higher power, He is the ultimate Judge. God uses His strongest children to excute His plan, He has great things planned for Adnan that we have yet to see.

    (My way of cooling my blood which begins to boil when I read SS’s blog and see these people take an innocent childs youth away).

  13. Is it possible the associate number is the number of the person printing the document, and two different people printed the time cards?

  14. Is this the most amazing “oversight” in the history of Urick’s history of “oversight’s”?

    I think the list is getting a little long now on the slimy things Urick was a part of. This blows my mind. Susan is amazing. Thank you!

    • “Somehow, Urick discovered that the defense had issued a subpoena to LensCrafters, and responded by filing one of his own ….”

      Susan Simpson, is “under seal” not that big of a deal ? How likely is it for a Prosecutor to have a tipster in the Defense Attorney’s camp?

      • Under seal is a big deal, but one of CG’s clerks could have screwed up and served it on him. That’s all I can think of to explain it. But even then, the prosecution should’ve handled it like an inadvertent discovery issue, I’d have thought.

        Urick filed his own subpoena, though, which means that LensCrafters wasn’t responsible for the slip. They knew about it before October 4.

          • I’m not sure how to interpret this comment. Are you suggesting the prosecution was doing its job by pursuing the defense’s ex parte under seal discovery requests? Because… no, that’s unacceptable.

          • I think you’re asking whether the prosecutor happened to find out about the defense subpoena, or whether, in the course of doing their job, they requested the same info coincidentally on the same day. Am I right?

        • What was the basis for filing it under seal? If there was no legitimate reason for it (many courts require leave of court to file under seal), there would be no imperative for Urick to maintain its secrecy.

  15. Oh yes you did make a post on time cards interesting. As a matter of fact they’re going bonkers over there on serialpodcast. Good to know that even after the defenestration there’s a sane contingent. Small, but vocal. Keep up the hard work it’s appreciated.

  16. Good analysis Susan. Thank you. I’ve always been suspicious of Don, Things didn’t add up. Wouldn’t it be great of we could get details of Don;s mother’s bank accounts around that time in 1999 and see if there are any suspicious transactions (i.e. withdraw

  17. From this information, It is obvious that Don’s 1/13 timecard is a forgery.

    Did he have a cell phone ? and are his cell phone records part of the evidence? would be interesting to see cell tower information for his cell phone.

  18. I had noticed and commented on Reddit that the police did not establish an alibi for Don. I highly doubt he did it but if he was a suspect like Adnan, which he should have been for the reasons they gave that made Adnan a suspect, his supposed alibi would have been tossed aside.

  19. Great work and a compelling read as usual. Two things…just an fyi: Debtor’s statement about the 7hour phone conversation appears twice in your blog. Also, you state that the evidence against Don and Adnan are equal, however…the comments about Don from his employment review are troubling. One such comment about “remaining calm” would get my attention, but here you quote several different reviews that all cite “remaining calm” as something he needs to work on. So, the question is, was there any such evident about Adnan’s character? He had a much more stressful job as an EMT, and there must have been performance reviews of him as well. From the podcast, I can only think of the English teacher commenting on his “dark writing”, which she said was similar to other kids his age, and Isha commenting that he was always checking up on Had, which didn’t seem to bother Hae. In my mind, the scale tips toward Don as the one needing to be investigated when I see comments such as this. I have never put much stock in the Jay connection. Jay could have made the whole thing up after being threatened with being charged with murder. I t reminds me so much of the Ryan Ferguson case in that the man who accused him probably had nothing to do with the crime as well.

    One last question. In the podcast their e was a clip used early on, perhaps the first or second episode of things that were coming in the season and there was a girl commenting on how controlling someone was. They didn’t say whose voice it was, didn’t say whom they were talking about and never used that interview in the podcast. Any thoughts? I’m just wondering if that was a negative interview regarding Adnan.

    Thanks for all your work!

    • Just from reading the Wiki article on Ryan Ferguson, there seem to be some crucial differences here. The guy who fingered him was, by all accounts, with him that whole night but couldn’t remember it. He was haunted by “feelings” that he was involved before even going to police, and could have been manipulated into believing that he was the murderer, along with Ferguson. In Jay’s case, the police came to HIM, and he consistently (which is an achievement for Jay) denied any involvement in, or witnessing of, the actual murder.

      There is also strong evidence that he was telling people different versions of the trunk pop story before Hae’s body was even found, and therefore knew she was dead while everyone else thought she might not be. Add that to the details he knew about her clothing, the grave site, the manner of death, the location of her car (probably), and there is no question Jay was deeply involved. Maybe not in her murder, but certainly in the burial and/or cover up.

      • I was thinking of the Ferguson correlation in the sense that I see Charles Erickson as being completely innocent, however the police fed him enough details about the case that he not only got himself charged and convicted, but Ryan Ferguson as well. If you have any doubt about this, watch some of Erickson’s first police interview and the tour of the crime scene. He has no clue what is going on. His story became that the whole thing was Ferguson’s idea and that Ferguson was the one that strangled the man. I think he did claim to be involved in beating the guy up, which is probably why he got convicted.

        In trying to surmise if this could have happened in Adnan’s case, I try to picture what would be necessary for Jay to be making the whole thing up? Well, all of the information in Jen’s statements would have had to come from Jay the night before she gave her statement. She admits to talking to him that night. Read the statements, that’s completely possible that he made it all up and told her what to tell the police. When the police talked to her the day before the interview, she didn’t mention Adnan at all. I think all that you mention above regarding Jay could have come from the police, right down to the location of the car and the position of the body. I think someone on the podcast said that the answer to what actually happened is probably in those pre-interviews that weren’t taped. I agree. I think that’s when the police helped get Jay’s story straight. I don’t remember Jay talking about the trunk pop before the cops talked to him….did you get that from his statement to police or his testimony, if so which version? 😉 His version changes so much that he is either deeply involved as you say and is lying to minimize his own involvement, or he wasn’t involved at all and can’t keep his story straight because he didn’t know what he said from time to time. Now it should be easier for him to be more consistent since his statements to police and testimony are now on the record where he can see them/access them.

        I don’t doubt that Jay could be involved. Heck, Jay could have killed her, but I also think it could be an unrelated third person could have done it and Jay was so scared of going to jail that he lied about Adnan to save himself.

  20. I’ve always wondered why they never talked to Don’s ex-girlfriend. In the podcast it was mentioned that Hae started pursuing Don while he was still together with her. I’m certainly not saying that she did it but I would think they would have talked to her. It seems like she had as much of a motive as anyone else involved.

  21. Great analysis, Susan, that you shouldn’t have had to do because this is exactly what the police should have done, as you say. I am, however, curious as to why you are so adamant from the outset, and you reiterate towards the end that Don was not involved in Hae’s murder. Not that I think there is anything direct to implicate him, but there is certainly MUCH more circumstantial behaviour around him that sounds fishy than around Adnan, especially all this dodgy time-card nonsense. I am personally very dubious that he actually worked that day, and I think Mummy or someone she delegated did a bit of clocking in and clocking out on his behalf, either at the time or after the fact in the light of the police investigation. Once it was known Hae had disappeared, the time-cards were created just to cover Don’s butt and save him a load of hassle. If Hae popped in to see Don and was given some excuse as to why he wasn’t there this might conveniently not have been mentioned to the police just to save Don and family and Lens Crafters a lot of complications. I have discovered in life that many people, even those one would think had a conscience, are quite willing to pretend they know nothing in matters where they might be called to testify because they just don’t want to be involved in anything complicated.
    Don not having really worked doesn’t necessarily mean to me anything nefarious in relation to Hae’s murder, but I read the police report yesterday where the cop interviewing Don commented that he didn’t seem as keen about the relationship as Hae apparently was according to her diary. Don said to Sarah K that Hae had wanted him to meet her during the day on the 13th and that he had put her off saying he had to work. Could it be that the initial reason for his supposed shift at Hunt Valley was to give Hae an excuse for not meeting because he simply didn’t want to spend an entire day with her? He could have chosen to say Hunt Valley knowing she would know immediately he hadn’t worked at Owings Mill, whereas he could more easily fake it at Hunt Valley with Mum’s help. I outlined, in a reply to someone above, a possible scenario where Hae shows up anyway and bumps into Jay who is at Hunt Valley, possibly shopping for Stefanie.

    • Excellent post. I agree, it’s very plausible that Don’s work record was changed just to save him from being drawn into the investigation, but it doesn’t mean he was involved.
      I wondered too, if Don was considering breaking it of with Hae and was making excuses not to see her. But, he did spend more than 3 hours on the phone with her the night before which suggests he liked her, and they were planning to meet up after her work-shift on the 13th. It’s hard to tell. Maybe he’s just isn’t the kind of guy who would communicate to others, like the police, how he felt about Hae.
      One thing that always stayed with me about Don was that in the podcast, he spoke very well of Adnan and very poorly of Kevin Urick.

      • I didn’t get the impression Don was completely off Hae, just that she was perhaps a little too enthused, he picked up on that so made an excuse not to see her during the day on the 13th, as well as being more mature and realizing it wasn’t a good idea for him to aid and abet her playing truant. There does seem to have been some afterthought shenanigans with those time-sheets and if he wasn’t involved in her murder the “avoid Hae for the day” followed by “Oh shit, don’t want to get wrapped up in this crap” motives seem to make sense.
        I was very surprised, however, to read those work evaluations, only today, as till now all I had heard about Don was that he was an innocuous squeaky clean guy, except for an unexplained issue of his having “assaulted Debbie” that I saw yesterday somewhere. What is that about? Don suddenly appears to me to have had some serious inter-relational and communication issues, though one does have to be careful about those kind of work-related reports. They could easily be unjustified, or misrepresentations based on particular dynamics with just one biased or jealous person e.g. someone feeling threatened that he had more pull at the store because of Mum. But the Debbie assault? It makes you wonder….. And the fact that he had never heard of Jay till now. I mean, wouldn’t you at least follow the basic outline of a trial about someone alleged to have murdered your boyfriend/girlfriend, however new the relationship?

        • I agree with MDBiddy, what is up with the Don “assaulting Debbie” thing. It sounds like a red herring but how could those words appear in this police report without any downstream vetting? Did CG know about this?

    • I think the point is that pretty much anyone can be made to sound dodgy, not that Don is or was dodgy per se. I believe Susan’s disclaimers re Don are exactly what they seem–warning people not to jump to conclusions just because of the way the narrative is structured. That’s what happened to Adnan, and judging from the comments here, that’s what a lot of people are doing regarding Don, despite Susan’s admonition.

      • But in this specific case, there was a whole lot more to investigate abut Don than Adnan. Literally,

        The Case Against Adnan:
        – he’s Muslim
        – he dated Hae

        The Case Against Don:
        – he potentially falsified work records
        – he assaulted Debbie
        – he has concerning work evals that call his character into question
        – his only alibi is his own mother
        – he never contacted Hae after Jan 13 (This is the single most damning thing to me. She’s your gf but you don’t bother calling her to see where she is after she’s disappeared?)

        It’s crazy that Adnan was honed in on immediately over such bs reasons and Don wasn’t.

  22. First rate fact finding again, Susan. It’s interesting to me that the investigative notes say how Don wasn’t that concerned with Hae’s disappearance (like Adnan). Again, nothing to imply Don had anything to do with it but it totally discredits the idea that Adnan’s reactions during the missing persons/murder investigation imply he was “acting guilty.”

  23. I always thought it was weird that Don was never really considered a suspect and that his timecard was considered an “ironclad” alibi when they are falsifiable. Aside from the fact that managers can edit records, which almost everyone who’s worked in retail has experience with, it’s also possible for someone else to “clock in” for another employee.

    Had I been investigating this case in 1997, I would have tried to corroborate his alibis by talking to the employees at the Hunt Valley store and looking for additional records, mostly because the note in the car suggested that Hae was going to visit him that day. I also would have been interested in confirming Jay’s alibi that day.

    • I think that’s a good place to start but…
      As amazing as Susan’s insight here is (and thankyou, it has been enlightening and heartbreaking to read, but mostly infuriating), the DOJ may be a more appropriate body to look into this entire city/county, from the police on up to the judges, (starting with Urik of course). At least they could find out what has been withheld. I mean, all of these shenanigans are just what is available… What did they hide?
      I know I said something similar on another old post today (sorry to repeat) but I don’t understand how this behaviour could possibly be legal (I assume it isn’t).
      I’m not American so yeah, but seriously, is there not a petition yet to get every case these investigators ran, or this prosecutor tried, looked into?
      If there is this interest in this case, and the motive is to get justice etc. this can’t be the only case this shoddy (these people seem like practiced bulls**t artists). This could have been going on for decades. As important as any individual case is… this issue seems soooo much bigger than just this one.
      Maybe in conjunction with his appeal and the Innocence Project’s work this case could be used (whatever Adnan’s own results) to raise calls for investigatoin and even get some stricter laws put in place to try to prevent this behaviour, or at least provide recourse, or new appeal rules, anything. There will rarely be a better time to try. The whole world is watching. But sadly, it is easily distracted.

  24. Amaaaazing work as usual, Susan!

    On a bit of a side note, Don’s memory of the last time he saw Hae and his timecard, which shows he did not work on 1/12, may shed light on your previous post about the Don note and the likelihood of WHS wrestling match on 1/13. If Don and Hae did in fact spend spend the evening of 1/12 together, she most likely DID skip the Loch Raven wrestling match (standing-up Summer in the process). Since Summer was in a lower class, as you mentioned, she probably did not see Hae on 1/13 to air her grievances. Therefore, when Summer was questioned weeks later if she saw Hae on 1/13, she may have been remembering a conversation with Hae that probably took place on 1/12. The same can also possibly be said for Inez Butler…

    • That is a good thought! That actually makes the no wrestling match theory make sense to me! I couldn’t figure out how two people could get so wrong the last time that they saw their friend. You may have something there!

    • Agreed. That theory makes sense. Not only did Summer not see Hae on the 13th, school was closed for the remainder of the week due to weather conditions. Summer could easily have confused the date IF it was the 01/12 Loch Raven game that Hae missed.

  25. Hi Susan
    Great post. looking at the times in the time sheet they match exactly with the information given to detective o,Shea by CM on the 1st February which tends to suggest the time card record must have been created before the 1st of February . Importantly this is before the discovery of hae’s body when she was still being treated as missing. While I agree the police could have looked into don’s alibi in more detail I think this corroboration and the exis tense of a time sheet before hae’s body was found may explain why they wrote don off as a suspect early on.

  26. Hi Susan,

    One point I’m not clear on from the original article, and I’m hoping you can add a bit more detail. In the original response to the defense, which was missing the record for the 13th and 16th, did they give any other records for Hunt Valley? It is unclear whether they just missed out on Hunt Valley in general in their first data dump, or just those two records.

  27. Susan,

    Can you please clarify what you meant in a below comment about a grand jury convening on 2/16, as it relates to the presentation of Adnan’s case? Do you mean that prosecutors appeared before the grand jury on that day, or simply that the grand jury that eventually issued the indictment convened that day?

    The distinction seems important since one would wonder what the State presented on 2/16 (if they did), pre-Jay and before they were supposed to have been in possession of cell records produced by AT&T on 2/17.

    Thank you!

    • Yes, please! And also, is there a witness list for the GJ, and specifically did Jay Wilds testify at the CJ? Thank you Susan!

    • So when I say “grand jury,” read it as shorthand for “the prosecutors and the police acting under the fiction of a grand jury investigation.” In practice, the members of the grand jury are not actually doing anything — they have the power to do so, but in practice it’s just another tool for use by the police and the prosecution. (The prosecutors and detectives in this case also had subpoenas issued in the name of the grand jury post-indictment. They were blatantly using it as a tool for trial preparation, and made only a casual effort to be subtle about it.) In real life, the grand jury is mostly just chilling out for their terms of appointment, giving a thumbs up/thumbs down to the ham sandwiches that the prosecutors are presenting them with.

      What the issuance of grand jury subpoenas for Adnan’s records as of 2/16 is showing, though, is that Adnan was already their key suspect at that time, despite the lack of any evidence (beyond an anonymous phone call) linking him to the murder. The prosecution is setting into motion the process that they intend to have result in the indictment of their man, i.e., Adnan. Moreover (and ignoring the fact that the government failed to actually comply with the SCA in this case), in order to obtain the historical cell site records, which they subpoenaed on 2/18, the State was required to identify “specific and articulable facts” as to why Adnan’s cell records were relevant and material to Hae’s murder. (The closest they got to this was saying that Hae was buried in Leakin Park. I don’t see how this can be read to imply anything other than that they had evidence that Adnan’s phone was in Leakin Park on 1/13, but they failed to identify, as required, why they believed that.) So long before Jenn or Jay had even been identified as people of any relevance to the investigation, the State already thought Adnan was the culprit.

      The grand jury did not issue subpoenas aimed at investigating any suspects other than Adnan, and never sought the cell records of anyone that wasn’t either Muslim or Pakistani. Later on, subpoenas were issued to obtain evidence concerning Jay’s and Jenn’s employment records (although the returns were only partially produced to the defense), but that was aimed at proving Adnan’s guilt, not theirs.

      • Thanks a lot for taking the time! A good bit of confusion on Reddit (I know) was ignorance about how grand juries work but the chronology of (what we know about) evidence-gathering or the state of the case against Adnan vs these proceedings raised some eyebrows. Thanks for laying out your conclusions.

        • Based on the investigation timeline, I don’t see a way around the conclusion that there’s a big part of the story the investigators never disclosed.

          Or… I guess that blind, irrational prejudice could also explain it. Adnan was the Muslim who used to date her, case closed. I don’t think that’s what happened, though. Which would mean there’s something more going on that we don’t yet know about.

          • That’s intriguing, Susan. What else might be going on that we’ve no knowledge of?

          • I don’t remember any anti-Muslim sentiments before Sept 11 … I guess that means ‘something more going on”.
            We tend to forget the climate before Sept 11 2001.
            Or am I the only one who remembers how different our society was then?

          • But there was a great deal of discriminatory/biased/inaccurate thought related to Muslim culture, which was discussed in the Serial podcast. I remember it clearly – members of the jury that were interviewed by Sarah saying that they recalled discussing the way “Muslim men treat their women,” how they were “second class citizens,” how they were “controlling and possessive” etc. Also, I remember the exact quote from a woman saying, “maybe I’m showing my prejudice, but what kind of mother allows her daughter to date someone with the name Adnan Masud Syed.” I remember it clearly because I found it so ridiculous for someone not to clearly see the prejudice in that statement – so, you can’t altogether discount the climate of bigotry surrounding Adnan, which the prosecution intentionally played upon and encouraged.

  28. Susan, do you ever sleep? I don’t know how you can analyze all this stuff, go to work everyday and still live a somewhat normal life. Thank you for the hard work. Hae is finally getting the justice she deserves through you and Rabia and those working on Adnan’s behalf.

  29. Listening to the podcast, I was troubled by Don’s comment that he had immediately begun to trace his whereabouts on January 13th when he learned Hae was missing. If I had no involvement in the disappearance, it wouldn’t occur to me to be able to account for my whereabouts, even if I was in a relationship with the missing person, especially if i had an “ironclad alibi” such as being at work. That is, unless I wasn’t at work and I needed to make it look like I was and I had the ability to do so and a witness who had a reason to lie about it, i.e., my mother.
    In a previous comment it was noted that the police had come for Jay, Jay hadn’t gone to them. That’s not really true. After a review of the cell records, the police had identified Jen. They went to talk to Jen and she conveniently was “busy” (by the way, that just doesn’t happen. When the police want to question a witness about a murder, they don’t let the witness come in at their convenience) Note: They didn’t call Jay up and say “Hey, when you have a minute, stop by so we can chat’. Jen then went to Jay (to get their story straight?) and Jay told Jen to “send the police his way”. Now, if you were involved in burying a body and hiding evidence and in one of your statements you say that you knew well in advance that it was the intention of another to murder, and you couldn’t be identified by the car or the cellphone because you didn’t own either, would you direct someone to “send the police your way”. There is the law of parties – which is that if you were a party, even if you didn’t commit the murder, you are guilty of murder which will land your ass in prison for life plus 30.
    This case is so intriguing. i can’t put my finger on why. Was it the storytelling of Sarah Koenig, all of the great investigation by Susan and Collin? It sure seems to ignite the passion. Keep going, Susan, you are doing GREAT work.

  30. Susan, one thing that I noticed is that on the 2 Owings Mills timecards there is detail listed for both the “Actual Time Card” and “Adjusted Time Card”. The Hunt Valley time card only has “Actual Time Card”. Do all of the other time cards have both, or does it vary? If all other time cards have both sets of detail what would account for the HV card only having Actual?

    • That bothers me a lot too. The only time cards that resemble Don’s Hunt Valley timecards are Hae’s from after her disappearance, when she didn’t work at all… all the other time cards have both “actual” and “adjusted” listed.

      • Huh. why are there time cards for after Hae’s disappearance? The “actual” fields on Don’s card show uneven times, so that would suggest that they are sign-in times and not scheduled work times. Does it show sign in times on her card or is the whole thing just filled with zeros?

        Is it possible that their log-in software had problems and that the Owings Mills manager was just conscientious about monitoring and correcting errors, hence regularly “adjusted time cards” at that store? Especially if Hae had adjustments on her cards, as she was generally described as quite punctual.

  31. I know you were quick to dismiss the note about Don assaulting Debbie as not being a credible report, but the excerpted scribble inevitably leaves an impression anyway, because even the suggestion that Hae’s new boyfriend could have assaulted one of her friends is pretty shocking. Placing this excerpt after the statement that “Don’s name comes up only two other times in the Baltimore Police Department’s files” clearly suggests that this is one of those times, and I wonder if that is accurate. (Please note that I don’t question your accuracy anywhere else!) On their own, the scribbles certainly suggest that this is a reference to Hae’s new boyfriend, but when one examines the page as a whole, it’s clear that there are a lot of different thoughts being jotted down haphazardly, including a mention of Aisha having received death threats over the internet in the past year, and “close friends Aiyesha” [sic] is written directly above this. Again, you have already largely discredited this comment, and it seems certain that Debbie would have mentioned this assault if there were any truth to it, but since Don is not explicitly named here and the notes elsewhere in the report jump all over the place, isn’t it possible that Hae’s girlfriends disliked someone else’s new boyfriend? If the “report” were more coherent, I wouldn’t quibble, but these look more like the notes I take while on the phone which are intelligible only to me and in which the total lack of grammar could easily lead to misinterpretation. I completely understand that this post is a critique of the prosecution’s lack of follow through in considering Don as a suspect and not a suggestion of his guilt, but “assault” lingers in the mind even when discredited, so it doesn’t seem altogether fair to Don to jump to that conclusion.

    Thank you for your diligence and intellect!

    • I wondered if he possibly meant to write “insulted” rather than “assaulted”.
      When were Don and Debbie even spending time together that he could have assaulted her? Very odd.

      As far as the haphazard scribbled notes are concerned, I agree they are the sort of mess I would jot down during a phone call, and sometimes I have trouble deciphering my own writing. The fact that a police detective would use this sloppy method to collect information in a murder investigation is ridiculous.

      • Read her article again. She said that Debbie spent 7 hours on the phone with Don, and then went out to a move with Don and Aisha. It’s in her statements to Mac Gillivary.

        • Thanks for pointing that out. I saw the part about the 7 hour phone conversation but missed the part about the movie.

          It still seems like a weird scenario for Don to assault Hae’s friend while the 3 of them were going to a movie. An insult seems more plausible, especially in light of Don’s work reviews that address his interpersonal skills.

          • It also seems odd — and I’m really not trying to insinuate anything beyond the surface oddness — that Don apparently went out with Aisha and her boyfriend first with Hae (as reported by Aisha on the podcast, who described it as awkward because he was so much more mature than her date) and later with Debbie. The more I look at the page of notes mentioning the assault in its entirety, the more I, too lean towards thinking the taker of those notes meant “insult” rather than “assault” (because I want to believe that a report of random physical violence would have prompted some curiosity even in this biased investigation), and the more I think that all the notes were taken during a conversation with Aisha, who seems to be the logical source of much of the information. And then I wonder if Aisha misremembered the double date with Don years later and never actually went out with Hae and Don and only went out with Don and Debbie. And then I marvel at how much speculation I’m indulging in, and I have a new appreciation for Susan’s rigor.

  32. This is a perfect example of how our legal system fail us day in and day out. I was under the impression that Don alibi was investigated not overlooked. I don’t believe Jay or Adnan was involved. I believe Jay was coached to frame Adnan to prevent himself for being prosecuted on another charge. Now Don becomes a person of interest he the only one out of all the people involved who has shown a violent pass. I know most people will feel I’m full of it, however do not discount how our legal system can place blame on someone who does not have any involvement.

  33. Learning about the performance evaluations in regards to interpersonal issues leads to something that stayed with me from the podcast – Don told Sarah he had been cheated on in the past and Hae helped him with his self-worth. They hadn’t known each other very long at all. Cheating and jealousy and all the self-esteem issues that come in tow allow me (at least) to correlate the eval notes to his larger and deeper personality. The dynamic between Don and Hae was not investigated and therefore, not known. She was friends with Adnan for a long time before romantically being involved, and she had no issues (with her life). She meets a new guy she knows nothing about, maybe wanting to ‘fix’ him. She wanted to skip school on the 13th to hang out with him, and he talked her out of it. I remember that being his day off (not that he told her he had to work, unlike some comments I’ve seen written here). He might’ve liked the nurture for a bit before he began getting annoyed. Who knows. Unfortunately, she wound up dead. He’s undoubtedly a person of interest.

    • Consider this theory

      Don had no scheduled work at the Hunt Valley store and he did not work there at all that day. We have only his word that she wanted to take the day off and he talked “her out of it”. What if it was Don who wanted Hae to take the day off as he (Don) was off too and she refused. He having been cheated and being distrustful decided to stalk her after school and followed her from school to the Best Buy lot where she was meeting Jay to pick up some weed.

      Don thinks she met Adnan and confronts her in the lot as she is driving away. He strangles her in a rage. Jay is around. He offers Jay some serious cash to help him hide her body and they carry on with the burial and hiding her car

      Don’s mother then pays Jay off and forges his alibi at the Hunt Valley store. An investigation of Don’s mother’s bank accounts around that timeframe could turn up some interesting withdrawls

      • There is so much that does not add up with Don’s testimony and his interviews with the police and Sarah. Put this together with what Susan has uncovered here in this blog post with his timecards and behavior as evidenced in his performance reports and Don becomes very suspect

        Why would he say he had never heard of Jay until Sarah’s interview for the podcast ? That makes no sense. He is trying to distance himself from Jay.

        Why did he originate the story of Hae going to California ?

        Why was he spending so much time befriending and talking to Debbie – a 7 hour phone conversation ? He was probably trying to glean information about the investigation and also trying to plant theories into her head and into Hae’s firends minds through Debbie.

        What made Hae’s friends suspicious of Don ? Probably subconsciously something told them that things didn;t add up.

        At the trial he pretended that he was not much into Hae yet to Sarah he says that he still loves her and she left a deep impression with him. For god sakes, he only dated her for 13 days. It would be interesting to hear from his ex-girlfriend as to his behavior whether she found him and creepy/disturbed

      • Holy crap. Could that be why HML’s note said “sorry I couldn’t stay” ?!?!?!

        This is the first Don theory that I actually think has a chance to be true.

        • Agree! This theory finally ties everything together ha…makes a lot of sense. I always though that 7 hour call was strange too…who talks to their friend’s boyfriend for 7 hours – someone you don’t even know well probably because they’d only been dating 13 freakin days?

  34. “It’s just that the ironic result of the State’s investigation into this case is that Adnan’s alibi is far better supported by the evidence than Don’s is.”

    Not trying to stir up a hornet’s nest, but you have to be kidding. If Don’s the perp, at a minimum, his mother is an accomplice (assuming she COULD doctor the time card), as well as the police, Jenn, and Jay (assuming Don and Jay don’t have some secret connection). Quite the conspiracy there. Don is obviously a sociopath for having killed a girl he had been dating for a mere two weeks, and his accomplices are all morally depraved (and remarkably loyal). On the other hand, even if one were to grant that Asia is a reliable witness (1st snow? 2:15pm – 8:00pm? Boyfriend and friend? Urick call / refusing to testify?), and the track coach implied that Adnan was at track (something he’s uncertain of / refused to testify to) at 3:30pm (most maintain it started at 4pm; regardless, Adnan could’ve showed up late), that still leaves Adnan with 50 minutes in which to commit the crime (2:40pm – 3:30pm) for which he has no alibi. No conspiracy required.

    • So, if Adnan cannot account for every 30mts interval starting from 2:15PM Jan 13, 1999 until the next morning, then he is the murderer. Somehow, I assumed that the state claimed Adnan killed HML sometime between 2:15 and 2:36PM.
      Now I understand state’s case better. Thanks for clarifying.

      • Yeah, Adnan can’t account for the time but Don can (assuming there’s no massive conspiracy). Is the difference becoming clear? Moreover, at this time, the state’s timeline is irrelevant; it was a useful legal hypothesis, but Adnan’s already been convicted, so it has no bearing on the academic question of whether he committed the crime.

          • No, because insofar as we know, Jay doesn’t know Don. So the police must’ve put both Jay and Jenn up to it. So we’ve got Don’s mother, Jay, Jenn, and the police. That’s a fairly sizable conspiracy.

        • Adnan’s whereabouts before practice are covered by Asia, during practice by a coach, and after 7 by a member of his mosque. The fact the CG was incompetent in corralling this evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t there; it just means the jury never got to see it. The only time not covered by alibi witnesses (post-practice, pre-mosque) is the one time the cellphone was actually calling, and receiving calls from, people Adnan knew.

          • All of your alibi witnesses are hypothetical, none of them actually testified, but even so, there’s a sizable gap (2:40 pm – 3:30 pm) right when the murder was presumably committed.

          • No, RP, they’re not hypothetical– they’re real people. CG’s incompetence with Asia and the track coach, and Urick’s misconduct with the member of the mosque are relevant to whether Adnan got a fair trial. They have nothing to do with Adnan’s innocence.

            And if you’re going to suck hard the mighty teat of State, then stick with it. The State said Hae was killed by 2:36– by their own argument, Adnan couldn’t have done it.

          • – Mountain –

            The track coach isn’t certain of anything, so putting him on the stand would likely have made no difference. Asia’s story is problematic for a whole host of reasons, and we really can’t be sure that CG didn’t contact her (like the track coach, it probably would’ve been via PI).

            And “suck hard the mighty teat of State”? Give me a break. I’m sure I’ve had more tense altercations with the cops in my life than you’ve had in yours (including about six of them pointing guns at me), but I’m not buying police misconduct in this case. Legally speaking, the 2:36 timeline has sailed (that trial is over), so in the academic sense of questioning when the crime was committed, it’s irrelevant.

          • The track coach is certain about enough facts for us to be certain that it was the 13th. That CG failed to put those facts together doesn’t mean we can’t. As you say, that trial is over.

            As for Asia, she’s a solid alibi witness. If the prosecution wants to re-try Adnan and attack Asia’s credibility, they’re welcome to. I think a jury would find her story more credible than the prosecution’s story.

        • State’s timeline can be an irrelevant ‘useful legal hypothesis’ ONLY IF we have other physical evidence to tie Adnan with the crime. In the absence of the latter, we have just a hypothesis. Say, if we know for sure that event X happened or there are physical evidences that compel us to conclude that event X might have happened THEN one can speculate about possible ways of X would have happened.

          I keep hearing that ‘Adnan’s already been convicted’. I really don’t get it – may be I am dumb – what does it mean?. ‘He has been convicted already so he is guilty’ or ‘He has been convicted so shut up and move on? Either way it is stupid.

          • The point is that those of us who believe that Adnan is guilty aren’t bound by the state’s timeline in making our case — heck, the state isn’t even bound by it. The timeline was used in the trial, the trial was won by the state, but at this point, it’s meaningless.

          • The state’s timeline wasn’t designed to reflect the truth, it was designed to prevent Adnan from being able to raise a defense. By having a timeline that could shift a million different ways, any alibi evidence can be rendered meaningless by simply shifting the times to something more convenient for the prosecution.

        • How would the state’s timeline be considered useless if they’re the ones that used that as their proof that Adnan was the killer?? Now we’re just supposed to ignore that? That makes no sense.

    • “If Don’s the perp…. ” – please learn to read… Susan was explicit that she was NOT making this argument several times.

  35. From SS’s explanation of her grand jury comments:
    “What the issuance of grand jury subpoenas for Adnan’s records as of 2/16 is showing, though, is that Adnan was already their key suspect at that time, despite the lack of any evidence (beyond an anonymous phone call) linking him to the murder.”

    Seems like this directly conflicts with Adnan’s most recent appeals brief that Jay was the primary suspect until he pointed the finger at Adnan…

    From Adnan’s latest appeals brief:
    “As police investigated, they initially focused on Jay Wilds, a fellow Woodlawn student. Upon being called in for questioning, Wilds told police numerous different stories, alternately inculpating and exculpating himself.”

    There are actually three errors in just that single sentence of Adnan’s brief.

    1. Jay was not a fellow Woodlawn student. He had graduated the year before.

    2. He was not the initial focus on the police investigation.

    3. His interviews and testimony did not “alternately inculpate and exculpate himself” He’s been extremely consistent on those fronts. Adnan killed Hae and he helped dispose of the body.

  36. Hi Susan,
    Awesome post! Question about the two employee ID numbers. Did Don have any other time cards with the second ID number? If not doesn’t it makes that time card even more suspicious. I doubt that was the first time he filled in at another store.

    • Sure, but it wasn’t the 1st snow of the year, and it didn’t start until 4:30 am the following morning, so I doubt it resulted in Asia being “snowed in” at her boyfriend’s house.

      • So if it technically resulted in her being ice-stormed in, but she colloquially referred to it as being snowed in, then her entire memory must be false.

  37. Hi Susan

    There appears to be a discrepancy between the over time card and the clock in sheets. The overtime sheet relates to the week 9/1/99 but the clock in cards relate to 16/1/99.

    • There’re a total of three time cards for Don, two for the week of 1/16–one from Owings Mills and one from Hunt Valley. The time on those two cards only reflect the time in their respective stores, 33.50 hours in OW and 12.20 (.40) hours in HV for a total of 45.7 hours the week of 1/16.

      Then, on Don’s time card from 1/9 from OM only he has 41.20 hours. So, Don had overtime both weeks shown in the time cards.

  38. Susan, IANAL so you can tell me how relevant this is.
    As I was reading Don’s performance reviews I was struck by the fact that his supervisors were pretty straightforward about criticizing him in several respects. They questioned his integrity, ability to learn from mistakes and his treatment of his co-workers , especially with respect to controlling his temper and remaining calm. The performance reviews were going to be seen by him mother, presumably. So, these supervisors put their own necks on the line. I have a couple thots about this.
    One, if I had gotten successive reviews like these, I would have been shortlisted for another job. Two, I’m guessing that his behavior had to be pretty bad for these supervisors to bring it up in the first place. They’re probably fed up by this point.
    Nevertheless, Don keeps his job. I have to assume that Don’s mother is willing to overlook these reviews despite her supervisor’s misgivings.
    So, should we infer that at least one of Don’s parents has a history of not letting Don suffer the consequences of his behavior? Can that inference be extended to postulate on the likelihood that Don’s mother created the Hunt Valley time card out of thin air? Is that maybe the reason why the paralegal bolded Don’s Mother in her note? Maybe Don’s Mother got him out of more than one sticky situation?
    How might Gutierrez used this info in court (had she been paying attention)?

    • I know you’re hoping for Susan, and I hope she is able to answer. I am a lawyer. Generally, if you were investigating Don as an alternative suspect, you might ask some of these questions. On the other hand, assumptions about what someone is thinking, whether it is Don’s co-workers or Don’s mother or Don himself, are not relevant. You can have a hunch, and you can ask someone what they did, you may find other evidence to corroborate what a witness told you, and the jury may draw conclusions from all of this. “Should we infer that at least one of Don’s parents has a history of not letting Don suffer the consequences of his behavior?” No. There’s not evidence to support that. We don’t know what Don did to get these employment reviews, we don’t know if his mother is/was willing to overlook these reviews, we don’t know if Don’s mother’s supervisor had misgivings, we don’t know that his mother saw the performance reviews, There is no evidence that Don’s mother created a time card. That doesn’t mean she did, it doesn’t mean she didn’t. A hunch, an assumption, an inference: none of these are evidence of anything. You can try to substantiate them through evidence, but until there’s substantiation, they’re not really relevant. Attributing a thought to another person, then using that attribution (which is really made up) to undercut the person is a classic logical error. I hope this is helpful.

        • 100% agree with this. Though we can’t act on what we “think” or a “hunch,” we can use consistent prior behavior to establish character. Don wasn’t cross-examined as a witness, the jury never got the chance to have him explain the discrepancies in the time cards, or have his supervisors provide examples of why he was consistently receiving these poor performance reviews. He was portrayed as the squeaky clean boyfriend who had nothing to do with anything, but after seeing these time card issues, hearing about these negative character reviews (including alarming behavior such as being volatile), and the possible incident whether it was assaulting or insulting – I cannot believe he wasn’t looked at more closely.

  39. Susan,

    The subpoena thing continues to confuse me, and I was hoping for some additional clarity.

    To quote your reply: “‘in order to obtain the historical cell site records, which they subpoenaed on 2/18, the State was required to identify “specific and articulable facts’ as to why Adnan’s cell records were relevant and material to Hae’s murder.” That “specific and articulable” concept has been explained as NOT applicable to subpoenas, but rather as a requirement for police to secure search warrants. Since evidently no parallel/equivalent probable cause idea exists in GJ/ subpoena world, it was assumed you just misspoke.

    However, your comment about the non-compliance with SCA/ Stored Communications Act motivated me to dig a little (i.e. I literally Googled “SCA,” and then “SCA specific and articulable facts”), and apparently there is some sort of protection in place at least for email. Can you clarify if/ why you think that concept applied to the AT&T subpoena back in 1999? And if so, did the state outright ignore the applicability of that requirement in issuing the subpoena or did they just provide an inadequate basis, in your view? What would have been different had they complied?

    I’m not a lawyer so please forgive any fumbling of technical stuff and please ELI5, as they say. Also want to make clear I’m really not trying to belabor an error, if you did simply misspeak – just want to understand the basis for theory if you think the investigation took flight on ill-gotten information. Thanks for taking the time.

    • This requires getting into the weeds a bit, but here is a quick and dirty guide to the SCA:

      For phone records (and other electronic) data, there are three categories of information. Different rules apply to each category. Those categories are:

      Contents of Communications: This is things like the actual text of an e-mail that has been sent and unread, or the words spoken during a phone call. This information is protected by the Fourth Amendment, which means it is protected by the warrant requirement. In order for the police to get contents of communications, they must obtain a warrant, which means they must get the court to sign off that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found if there is a search. [Note: This is painfully oversimplified. The way the Fourth Amendment/SCA handles contents of communications depends on things like how long ago the e-mail was sent, whether it was read yet, the kind of e-mail service provider, etc. It’s not relevant here, though, so I’m glossing over all that.]

      Non-content information, other than ‘basic subscriber information’: This includes all information which is not the content of a communication, but which is also not Basic Subscriber Info (BSI) (discussed below). It can be obtained through a “§ 2703(d) order,” which (although the documents themselves are usually styled as and referred to as subpoenas) requires a showing of specific and articulable facts:

      Specifically, the statute states that “a governmental entity may require a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to disclose a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of communications) only when the governmental entity … obtains a court order for such disclosure under subsection (d) of this section.” Id. § 2703(c)(1)(B). A Section 2703 order “may be issued by any court that is a court of competent jurisdiction and shall issue only if the governmental entity offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or the records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Id. § 2703(d).

      This is lower than the requirement for a warrant (which is probable cause) but higher than a usual subpoena.

      Although there is still some slight lingering uncertainty concerning the status of historic cell site data (some litigants continue to argue that this info falls under the 4th Am. and requires a warrant), for the most part it’s safe to assume cell site info will always require a 2703(d) order, not a warrant.

      Non-content information, basic subscriber info: This is information such as the name of a subscriber, the assigned phone number, registered address, toll billing info, and method of payment. A phone company cannot voluntarily hand this over to the government In order to obtain this, the government must issue an administrative subpoena or grand jury subpoena (or something similar). There is no requirement that the government show S&A facts, though — the government just needs to comply with its own requirements for the subpoena. In Maryland, for a GJ subpoena, this would require only that it be relevant to a criminal investigation.

      Now for how all that applies to this case. Basically, the Feb 16th subpoena is a subpoena sufficient to obtain BSI data, but not cellsite data. From the disclosed police files, AT&T gave BSI info on Feb 17th. The Feb 18th subpoena was signed by a judge, and in response AT&T gave historic cell site info. However, the Feb 18th subpoena did not comply with the requirements of a 2703(d) order, because no S&A facts were listed. It just said “Hae was buried in Leakin Park, therefore we need this information because of reasons.” Not good enough. Here’s an example of what S&A facts would pass muster:

      Specifically, the historical cell site and toll records for Subject Phone 3 are relevant and material because the evidence establishes that Defendant Lang used Subject Phone 3 during the time period leading up to the charged incident at Mink Farm A. Lang was in constant contact through Subject Phone 3 with Defendant Johnson on Subject Phone 1 during this time period, and Defendants Lang and Johnson were charged together as co-conspirators in the criminal activity against Mink Farm A. The sought-after records will identify other individuals with whom Lang was in contact and will show Defendant Lang’s whereabouts during this time period, including locations he may have visited to purchase the items used to carry out the raid.

      That obviously wasn’t present in the Feb 18th subpoena. Unfortunately, based on the current statutory scheme, this all means jack shit, because law enforcement has what amounts to a get out of jail free card when it comes to these kinds of violations.

      More concerning is the fact that the investigators very much seemed to have possessed both BSI and cell site data prior to the Feb 16th order. This would be a blatant violation of the statute. While unlawful, however, it still means jack to a defendant in Adnan’s position, because the government is free to use even unlawfully obtained info:

      The government’s argument does not address the issue as to conclusory versus specific and articulable facts in regard to the information it did have. The government’s application merely listed that the subscriber information connected to IP address would possibly relate to an on-going criminal investigation. In accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d), the government should have articulated more specific facts such as how the government obtained the information it did have at the time and how this information lead the agents to believe that the attainment of the subscriber information of this particular IP address would assist in the investigation. The government’s application for a section 2703(d) order did not meet the requirements of the statute.

      Nonetheless, the government correctly points out that even if Road Runner divulged defendant’s subscriber information pursuant to a court order based on an inadequate government application, suppression is not a remedy contemplated under the ECPA.

  40. Susan,

    I am so sorry that the investigation into this case was so flawed. The anonymous tip the police received in the very beginning to implicate Adnan, was intended to raise suspicion and to mislead police down a blind alley which they followed using tunnel vision. In an effort to obtain a quick to convict victory, the case was not thoroughly investigated. I am late in the joining the blog. Was Jay given a lie detector test? Jay probably had good reason to fabricate his story, was he implicated in the crime and/or did he know who did it and feared for his own life? Time card tampering and discrepancies with Don’s time card, his past behavior with a previous girl friend and his work evaluation regarding his attitude, along with his lack of interest in finding out where Hae was when she went missing. I hope that with your help that Adnan can obtain an appeal and get a new trial. If a proper investigation had been conducted, there is no way under the sun that he could have been convicted because reasonable doubt existed. The American judicial system is far from accurate, thank God for DNA. Only God knows how many people have been wrongly convicted and served many years or most of their lives in prison for a crime they didn’t commit, based on the testimony of lying individuals, inept and shoddy police/detective work and without honest legal representation.

  41. I think more and more that what you’re showing on this blog is that Adnan’s attorney dropped the ball in so many ways. I know that at the time this was probably a ‘murder of the week’ not a big deal standard ‘domestic violence case’ (as Urick put it) but for the love of God… my legal knowledge is pretty much confined to Law&Order episodes and I probably could’ve done a better job. the things that weren’t investigated, the questions that weren’t asked, it boggles my mind. and yes, Don has always seemed a big deal to me, as well as the total lack of forensic evidence studied and the lack of an6 attempt that I can see to determine Hae’s movements that day after she left Woodlawn. even in 1999, how was victimology not considered an important part of this investigation? I know from your earlier post regarding the prosecution’s (frankly illegal) blocking of evidence to the defense that time was not on their side, but it truly seems to me that Adnan’s lawyers focused on all the wrong things and confused the jury for no reason.

    Aside from that, I want to know if these famous “red gloves” were ever found, or why they were even mentioned… it always seemed like a tacked on comment to me, like Jay was told that red fibers were found on Hae’s body and someone had to make sure he got something in his statements tying that to Adnan.

  42. Employee #: Has anyone noticed that the employee number on Don’s Owings Mills time card is #0162 and the Hunts Valley time card is #0097? Weird.

      • Did you two read Susan’s post? She covers the employee numbers in this paragraph…

        1) The Employee Numbers. Don’s employment number on the Hunt Valley timecard was #0097. The employment number for Don’s mother was #0110. Since employee numbers were assigned sequentially by employment date, this would indicate that Don was hired before his mother. This is certainly possible, but given that Don was an 18-year-old new-hire on 7/12/97, it seems unlikely that he would have been hired (at a minimum) several months ahead of his mother, who was the store’s general manager.

        • Did YOU read the paragraph you posted? Because while it does cover the overall sequencing of employee numbers, it does not discuss the fact that Dons employee number at Owings Mill (his primary location) is HIGHER than his employee number at Hunt Valley.

          • Sorry, I meant to include this from Susan as well…
            “It’s not the two different employee numbers that bothers me, in itself. I can buy that he’d have a different one for each store.
            What I can’t buy is that his employee number would be that much lower than that of his mother, the general manager. Nothing about that scenario makes sense.”

            There are several discussions going on in the comment section regarding the number discrepancy. Maybe there’s a good explanation but it is definitly odd.

  43. About the red gloves: I think the cops created the idea of red gloves without palms in order to use the map with Adnan´s fingerprints as evidence. But they did not find Adnan´s fingerprints in Hae´s note to Don. And as I understood, they didn´t test Don´s fingerprints or dna.

  44. After re-reading Don’s testimony (at trial 2) a few things look different after this post:

    1. On direct, when Urick asks Don to identify a page in exhibit #29 (his printed time card from the week including Jan 13). Urick asks, “What is that?” To which, Don answers, “It would be the timecard printed from the computer at that store.” (Hmmm. What a strange way to answer that question. “the timecard,” not “my timecard.”) To clarify, Urick asks, “When you say that store, do you mean the Hunt Valley store?” Don answers, “The Hunt Valley store, yes.” (So, how does Don know specifically where the time card was printed? Is there something he’s seeing on the printout that makes it obvious to him that the computer/printer at Hunt Valley was used to print it? Or, is he just assuming that’s where it was printed? Or, does he know where it was printed? Does this imply timecards are only able to be printed from the exact location worked? God, so many questions still!)

    2. Also on direct, the first thing Urick asks Don about is how and when and where he met Hae. Don explains they met through their jobs at LC. Urick asks Don, “When did you start working at Lens Crafter?” Don answers, “At the store she (Hae) was in, I started in October.” (Hmmm, so Don had only worked at the OW location for a brief time as of 1/13/99 but had been employed by LC since 7/12/97). Then, they go on to discuss that Hae had begun working there around the same time–and their associate numbers are indeed in sequential order. So, obviously it sounds as if Don transferred to OM from HV or another LC location. But, why a new associate number just because he transfered to a new location??? I’ve run every scenario over and over in my head and nothing works, unless maybe Don stopped working for LC for a time, which happens quite a lot in retail, and therefore he’d have two associate numbers listed in the timekeeping system.

    • Actually that second point is potentially clarifying re employee numbers. If Don started work at the other store in July, maybe he DID start work there before his Mum, and then transferred to the other store to avoid a conflict when she took over management? Just an idea. Possibly the weirdness with the shift was because he was her son also – she knew one of the other techs wasn’t coming in so she asked Don to sub, but he only could/wanted to do the shift he would normally be rostered on at his store. And she didn’t mind because he was doing them a solid anyway.

      • Don transferring to OM from HV would definitely offer an explanation for the two associations numbers–although in my 15 + yrs experience in retail I never saw a completely new associate number assigned in that situation. Associate numbers aren’t typically issued by store or district or region, they’re issued sequentially across all locations within company–I stress, usually. Don’s leaving for a brief or not-so-brief time is another possible explanation–and a more plausible one for me, as the only instance I ever encountered where an associate had two numbers was that very scenario. So, either of those probably work. Still, I’d think it’s quite rare that both numbers were active.

  45. Pingback: Serial update: What Susan Said | The Confluence

  46. This post further highlights the failings of the overall investigation. To those who have trolled in the comments with statements similar to “what a waste” or the like, look at the bigger picture. If the detectives were half as busy investigating all avenues in this case instead of coaching statements and manipulating evidence similar to shaving square pegs to fit into round holes, then the basic principles of justice would have been upheld.

    I find it intriguing that anyone who has listened to Serial, reads Susan’s posts or subscribes to the subreddit could be wholly convinced of anyone’s guilt or innocence in this case. I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are blatant examples where witnesses, including but not limited to Jay, have been caught lying – in fact, I cringe when I think of the multitude of examples of this that come to mind off the top of my head, however being a bad liar doesn’t make you a murderer. Equally, being an ex-boyfriend targeted by an over-worked police department doesn’t necessarily make you guilty either.

    Well done, Susan. Truly brilliant work.

  47. Did Lens Crafters ever produce pay stubs that align with the compensation Don would’ve been due in connection with the hours shown on his time cards? If those were produced, they might have shown that either (a) the time cards were verified and he had been paid for all of those hours, (b) he hadn’t been paid for the Jan 13 hours and Lens Crafters either owes him for 8 hours (plus 16 years of interest!) or perhaps the time card was created later to support his alibi.

    • Great idea about checking Don’s pay stubs against the alleged hours worked! I hope that will be done by someone. I wish there was more info out there on whether or not Don assaulted Debbie. And also if Don’s dad is or isn’t a police officer…

  48. Thanks for shedding light on, Don. I found it perplexing and frustrating that he was never investigated with any seriousness. My instincts, from what I have heard from him and about him, prompts a concern that he may have a personality disorder. Or did circa 1999. It’s curious that no-one who actually knew or knows Don has ever revealed their opinions or any anecdotes about him publically. Unlike with Adnan say, or the other ‘characters’ involved in this tragic story who have a myriad of opinion makers ‘at Liberty’ to talk about them. If there is one character that generates a fear of opinionated comment it is, Don. Who is protecting him. Who has the power to protect him? Who is Jay really afraid of? RIP HAE MIN LEE

  49. Can we all just agree that Debbie and Don had something going on? I know it’s kind of irrelevant, but somehow became very obvious throughout this post.

  50. Susan,

    To see what brought Hae and Jay together that day, we need to know if Hae or Don smoked, or discussed, wanting to smoke weed. There is no other conceivable reason for them to meet up.

    This is my reasoning, lets assume Adnan is innocent. The question then is who did it and why? Jay is definitely involved in some way,because he knows where the body and the car are, he was wiping down peints and diaposing of evidence, that she was strangled, and even the side she was buried on.
    So no matter what, Jay was involved. This was not a random murder, because Kay was involved.
    And if Adnan is innocent, then it must be Jay and/or someone in Jay’s world.

    So, what on earth would bring Hae into Jay’s sphere that day, as she hurriedly went to pick up her cousin?

    Did he randomly bump into her along her route to pick up her cousin? Seemly low probability.

    Did he meet her at the library parking lot? Seems like a busy time to murder someone with school letting out. He would know the traffic situation when the bell rings: all hell breaks loose and congestion builds up at any school.

    Whoch brings us back to my opening question, did Hae or Don use weed or ever discuss wanting to do so together? If so, then who would Hae turn to? No one but Jay. So could she have contacted Jay to get dime bag of weed? Then get mixed up with Jay’s tougher thug friends who killed her and enlisted Jay as the unwilling mule?

    Only Don would know.

  51. The whole concept that he would lie and say he worked as a tech at Lenscrafters as an alibi when he didn’t is silly. I am sure that there are records of him performing work at the store as a tech, making people’s glasses or whatever. In that kind of a business I am sure they want to know who prepared each set of glassess so if there is a screwup they can figure out who did it. He would also have to get the other employees that were not his mother to lie for him as well. If Don did it and was not at Lenscrafters, he would have made up an easier fake alibi.

    • Susan is not saying that he lied about working that day; please read this part again from the very first paragraph: ” Rather, it is about the the State’s investigation of Don, and the failure thereof. Nothing herein is evidence that Don was involved in Hae’s murder, because the fact that an alibi went unverified does not mean that that the alibi was untrue.”

      This is all about the failure of the investigation into anyone other than Adnan. There are probably records like you mention but, as far as anyone knows, NO ONE requested them. Not the police, not the prosecutors, not either side’s investigators, not Guitterez. Fail.

  52. I’m baffled ,,, is there a typo?
    “Summary of the Investigation into Don
    “The investigators’ complete disinterest in Don is baffling. The Harford County sheriff did conduct a search for Hae’s car in Don’s neighborhood on the night of January 13, 1999, but that was the most extensive investigation into Don that was ever performed.”

    Really? As far as I know no one searched Hae’s car the night of January 13, 1999

    The correct date is …. ?????

    • A search FOR Hae’s car is completely different than a search OF Hae’s car. I would think it’s quite possible that, as part of the missing person investigation, a search for her car would have taken place in the areas she was likely to frequent.

  53. I just had a weird (kinda paranoid down-the – rabbit-hole) thought about the letter from the paralegal at lenscrafters to urick. the emphasis on Don’s mom being a manager might be an indication that this oddball time card might be a fabrication. (okay, it sounds TOTALLY paranoid when I put it like that) but what I mean is perhaps what she was trying to convey was that since Don’s mother was the general manager for the store, she would have had the ability to fabricate a time sheet for him that would be “good enough” to cover Don’s ass as far as saying that he was there on 1/13 and 1/16,but wouldn’t have been submitted to payroll for overtime since he didn’t actually work those hours. idk, I know it’s probably crazy and more than likely that Don had nothing to do with Hae’s death, but more like a mom figuring that it was the best way to protect her son. it just seems fishy. but I also don’t think that there was a vast lenscrafters conspiracy or anything.

  54. Susan, I am having a hard time understanding why you write that you don’t think Don had anything to do with Hae’s death, after you give us many compelling reasons to doubt his alibi. I am questioning why you seem so sure about this, when you are so questioning and always seem so open to not knowing what really happened given the sloppy nature of the investigation. The fact that his mother is the store manager is, in my mind, a bombshell on his alibi. I am not a lawyer, and I know that you don’t want to cast aspersions or falsely accuse Don…but you do poke a lot of holes to question the reliability of his alibi.

    I understand that you’re making the point that Don didn’t have one thing that Adanan did: Jay as a “friend”; however, just because Jay points the finger at Adanan to save himself from a drug charge, doesn’t mean that Don is in clear–right? If Jay is the opportunist he appears to be, he would have seized on Hae’s death as a way to get himself out of trouble. Jay clearly does not care about who really killed Hae and more and more it seems he has not a clue who did.

    I am very bothered by the detail of Don and Debbie talking on the phone for 7 hours. That is just crazy. They probably talked about Hae for two hours and then something else for five. My guess is that it went in some romantic direction and Debbie was too ashamed to admit it once she found out that Hae had been murdered. (That could explain the Don assaulted Debbie note in the PD.) So either Don was then a callous and immature jerk who really didn’t care very much about Hae (which does not make him a murderer certainly) or he could be a real manipulator who did kill Hae and then had something going on with her friend.

    One other thought about the note to Don in Hae’s car. She might not have given it to him if she knew in her heart of hearts that he wasn’t as in to her and the relationship. She was very romantic and sweet, and he could have been a kind of “typical guy” who was not looking for a major commitment or maybe not, but even romantic girls (esp when smart) know the real deal in their heart of hearts.

    • I fully agree with you. If this was not a random death, then the most likely person is the boyfriend. The boyfriend, in this instance, could have easily lied about where he was that day and got his mum to back him up. And afree hae want missing he never tried to find where she was and never paged her. I think undisclosed needs to investigate this angle a lot more. What did Har’s friends actually think of Don? Was that note true, had he ever physically abused one of Haes friends. Given that Hae was hit twice first before being strangled this could point to characteristics similar to the crime.

  55. Susan,
    Do you have any idea who gave Hae the heart charm for $120 and flowers that were recovered from her car? If they were from Don, in my opinion, they seem to be pretty expensive gifts for a young man to give a girl that he’s really not into. Especially after dating for only two weeks. Were there any special occasions for her to receive these flowers? Are there any theories around her receiving these flowers the day she was murdered? Especially since the roses were still wrapped and came with flower food?

  56. Hi Susan, I’m from the UK but used to work for the American owned company tk maxx. Whilst employed there I was assigned an associate number, and when my shifts moved between stores that number stayed the same – so why has Don’s changed from 0162 to 0097? It looks like a sign to me that the record was definitely made up!

  57. Reading he comments and there’s a few things I want to address.
    1. Comments such as why doesn’t SS/Raubia/Et al. prove Adnan’s innocence
    – The job of Adnan and his defence team and anyone who is on his side is not to prove he is innocent – “innocnet until proven guilty.” their job is simply to show that there is an alternative explanation.
    You’re going to say: well a jury of his peers convicted him therefore he’s not innocent. Yes you’d be correct that they convicted him, but you’re not correct about his innocence. The jury convicted him on ineffective assistance of council. In other words, if Adnan’s defence had properly shown that the call records were not scientific and couldn’t conclusively prove that he was in Leakin Park. I think this alone is enough to have to created reasonable doubt and thus he would never have been convicted in the first place. That in addition to the lividity evidence discredits Jays entire timeline.
    which leads me to..
    2. Jay lead the cops to the car therefore Jay must have been involved and therefore the cops got the right guy.
    – If it turns out that Jay was paid the crimestoppers reward then Jay now has a motive for lying to the cops and for pinning the crime on someone else. That motive alone is enough for a jury to question Jay entire testimony.
    It’s not a stretch from there to think that the cops had already found Hae’s car and coerced Jay’s entire testimony. In other words it’s possible that Jay had nothing to do with this. It’s also possible that Adnan had nothing to do with this.

    In summary,
    with the call records being unuseable and Jay having his own motive to say Adanan committed the crime. The alternative theory here is that the police coerced a kid into giving testimony against the guy they were certain did it for reward money as a jury you hvae no choice but to vote not guilty. As this alternative theory shows simply that it’s possible that Adnan may not have killed Hae. Then again he still could have done it but it’s on teh State to come forward with the evidence that proves it beyond resonable doubt.

  58. You say that Don is not likely to be involved but why does he have 2 different employee numbers ?Lenscrafters is not a franchise operation and it has been said from a member of “Corporate” that said the record had to have been falsified regardless of it having been created some time after that work week. “Don” on one card, “Donald” on the other, both having different employee numbers which is not possible according to Lenscrafters themselves. His mother generated the time card. I find that rather suspect. The paychecks only come from one source. If he worked over 45 hours, why no overtime? Please explain this if it is at all possible. In any event, I find that your investigatory skills have been awesome and I love reading/listening your blog/podcast.

  59. Can you remind about the role of the park and ride?

    When did the interview with Don containing the following take place?

    “[Don] seemed to think she would either drive there or leave her car in the Satellite Parking Facility at BWI Airport and fly by commercial airline to California.”

    This isn’t the same park and ride, is it? Probably not, but want to make sure because that would be awfully suspicious if it was.

  60. I can’t imagine what motive Don would have in this case, so I think he is an unlikely suspect.

    However, he did tell SK that he immediately began thinking about alibis, which makes it possible that he immediately began working on creating an ex post facto alibi. We know from his performance review that he was known for asking people to fabricate records, and, in fact, there are two significant discrepancies between his actual time cards and the adjusted time cards in the two weeks presented above. In both cases, Don probably asked the store manager to change the records because he had forgotten to log in when he arrived. On Tuesday the 5th, he logs in and out again at 13:40, so he probably logged out for lunch and then realized he’d never logged in. In the adjusted time card, this is changed to a 9:00 start time. On Thursday the 14th, the day after the disappearance, his actual break seems to have been 14:45 to 16:02, but the manager went back to change it to a 15:15 return, perhaps because he forgot to log back in when he actually returned from lunch. It would be helpful to know how all of this exactly worked, since in these two cases the manager did not fiddle with the actual time card but only the adjusted time card. If Don did persuade his mother to alibi him, she would have had to change the actual time card record, so it is important to know if this was possible for her, given that the manager in these two other instances chose not to do that.

    If I was going to fabricate evidence ex post facto, I would be careful about using the correct employee ID number. I am curious if the different ID number was used, in this hypothetical situation of trying to provide an alibi, precisely to avoid the overtime flag. Lenscrafters does not seem to have been very vigilant about preventing overtime, given that Don had collected it the week before, but there may have been complications to overtime that it was worth avoiding.

    Finally, it seems significant that a man who described himself as immediately being concerned with creating an alibi, would then turn up again at this highly unusual shift of 9am to 1pm on Saturday. I assume that Don, if he knew nothing about the murder, would have wanted as much alibi as possible for the 13th, and so he would have asked his mother for an alibi starting at 9am even though that was out of cycle for the usual shifts. If they were very clever, bringing him in on his first available day (since he worked on Thurs and Fri) to replicate a 9am to 1pm shift was a good idea, helping to establish in co-workers minds that Don was there sometime early that week.

    Still, I don’t think Don had anything to do with the disappearance. I imagine he just tried to protect himself. Alternately, he may have had two ID numbers.

  61. A correction to my above comment. The second employee ID number could be the reason why the exculpatory time card was not presented in the first response to the subpoena, since it was not found. Or, if it was composed subsequently, it could have been necessary to use an alternate ID number since otherwise a composite time card, with evidence from both stores, would be created. (The skeptical note that accompanied the second time card, indicating that the manager was Don’s mother, seems important for this reason.) The real issue seems to be–for those who believe the time card was fabricated–how it was that the times communicated orally to the police early on were also the times in the subsequently produced second time card.

    • Since Lenscrafters is not a franchise, there would be only one employee ID number to identify Don regardless of what store he was working that day. Once of them is not using the correct number or it was falsified. Paychecks only come from one source. You cannot use an alternate number in that case.

    • I’ve wondered about the issue of it being communicated very early on to the police, meaning there wouldn’t be time to falsify anything – except it doesn’t look like it was communicated that early on:'Shea's%20Notes%20on%20Interviews%20with%20Don's%20Manager.pdf – this is a couple of weeks after Hae went missing – plenty of time to falsify something if needed (if anyone has found something earlier than this please post it/sorry I missed it).
      It’s also weird that if you’d (ie Don) just got back from work when you found out your girlfriend was missing, you’d have to make yourself think about your alibi – coz it would be blindingly obvious that you were at work (if you really were at work) – you’d only really be thinking about where you were a few hours previously if you hadn’t been doing very much/or at least hadn’t been doing the same thing for the past several hours (ie working). (Unless ‘thinking about where I was’ meant inventing where I was on realising you didn’t have an alibi/your alibi involved something illegal/you were actually involved in the disappearance).

  62. Question (although it may have been answered above, I haven’t read all comments). Don’s alibi (from the 22nd) says: Hae left Don’s residence at 2230 hours and paged him when she arrived home at 2330 hours. Donald called Hae and they spoke on the phone until approximately 0300 hours.
    But then Adnan’s cell records show that he spoke with Hae (to give her his number) during that time, at 12:35am for 1 minute 24 seconds. Is this overlap significant?

    • I remember in Serial, she discussed Adnan’s and Hae’s system for late night phone calls that involved call waiting, so if Don called Hae a little before 11:30, then according to Adnan’s phone records, Adnan called 3 times while Don and Hae were on the phone with each other. Hae most likely picked up the call waiting on the 3rd call at 12:35 a.m. Perhaps this caused a fight and/or jealousy on Don’s part that Hae’s ex was calling her so late at night? Looking at his employee reviews, it doesn’t appear to take much to anger Don.

  63. Piecing together this info, with some heresay from the Serial Dynasty podcast.

    Potential answer for sequential employee numbers is that Don’s dad who also holds the same name may have worked for the company too.

    With some looking into appellant docs a search based on Don’s name reveals that if it’s the Don I found, his mother has passed on and would not be contactable regarding the case.

  64. Hi Susan,

    Do any other time cards show the unusual “rounding up” that appears on the time card for Saturday the 16th?

    A full 4 hour shift (or anything close to it) would’ve ended at 1:18. If this had been left on the card, it would’ve been pretty obvious that it was impossible to travel between stores in minutes. It looks to me like somebody else’s time card was changed- a name change was done and the Saturday time was adjusted to be more plausible, but the adjustment didn’t recalculate the time in the top section, so it left an odd inconsistency.

    It’ll be great when Adnan’s attorney subpoenas Luxotica and we get to see the full history for employee 0097. Don’s year end W2 would also show some odd discrepancies.

    I think there are four possible explanations:
    1) lens crafters had a very unsophisticated/ illegal system that allowed workers to work at multiple stores without being properly paid overtime
    2) Don and has mom were “cheating” the system by allowing him to work more hours so he could collect extra pay, but fly below the company’s overtime radar
    3) Don didn’t commit the crime, but he and his mom freaked out that he didn’t have an alibi, so they faked one
    4) Don did commit the crime and he convinced his mom to create an alibi

    Based on the time card inconsistencies I think Don and his Mom found an employee who had worked Wednesday and Saturday and made a slight tweak to that person’s Saturday hours in order to fit with Don’s other pay stub.

    The good news is (I assume) that when subpoenas are handed out, this whole thing will be resolved. We’ll know the truth soon.

    Thanks for the great work Susan.

  65. I can’t quite figure out why Don was advised to call the Owings Mills store on his return home from ‘work’ – why didn’t his dad tell them ‘Don’s at work’ when they tried to call Don at home, to enable them to contact Don sooner, at the other store? Why were the store even calling Don about the disappearance? It all sounds a bit bizarre…

      • His parents did get divorced. Don’s dad remarried. Don’s mother was gay and had a partner – his biological mother and her partner were managers at Lenscrafter.

  66. Hi Susan,
    I’m a religious follower of all things Serial. Could the police possibly have overlooked Don as the suspect in the Hae’s murder? Bob from Serial Dynasty had mentioned there was another young man by the name of Don with the same first and last name as the other Don. His father had been a police officer with one of the detectives on the case.Could they have possibly written Hae’s boyfriend off too soon because of the one tiny misunderstanding that it was their colleagues son? Come to find out Don’s alibi doesn’t check out…. I think it’s worth a revisit.

  67. I have listened to Serial, Undisclosed, and some of the later podcasts on Serial Dynasty. I am also a lawyer (not involved in criminal practice) who has sued a police department successfully (settlement achieved) for coercing my client to confess to a murder coerced and a total stranger to provide a corroborating affidavit (later recanted). In thinking about Hae’s murder, there must have been a motive – even if she was killed by a psychopath as a result of a random encounter, whose motive may have only been for the thrill of it. I would guess that most murders of people who are total strangers to the killer concern women who are sexually assaulted as well as murdered. If there was no sign of sexual assault, then it would seem more likely that someone who knew Hae killed her. Suspecting Adnan may have had issues with breaking up is reasonable, but there seems to be no evidence to support this hypothesis. Don, current boyfriend, who she was going to see when she disappeared, might have issues, too, and as Ms. Simpson points out, should have been investigated. Hae’s diary does not indicate she was about to break up with him, so the motive of anger that might result from that in a relationship seems non-existent. Another hypothesis: that she had learned she was pregnant and so in love with Don that she wanted to have his baby and he, not wanting that serious a relationship with her, realizing that unless she chose to have an abortion, was going to be paying child support at the least for the next 18 years . . . even without an argument about this, he might have considered murdering her as the only possible solution to his situation. A stupid thought, but crimes are committed by people who don’t think through the consequences (if they can get past the moral issue). Ms. Simpson is precisely correct to say that she does not believe Don had anything to do with Hae’s murder but that he should obviously have been thoroughly investigated. I think, however, that she would follow the evidence an investigation would produce and that evidence would probably confirm her expressed opinion or cause her to reach the opposite conclusion. We will probably never have certainty about who killed Hae or why, but if the evidence that would cause Don to be a reasonable suspect had been presented to the jury, it is unlikely they could have ignored it in deciding beyond a reasonable doubt that Adnan was guilty.

    And in regard to Ulrich’s knowledge that Don’s mother was his manager, it seems (to me, anyway) that Ulrich had a duty to reveal this information to Adnan’s lawyer (but I will defer to Ms. Simpson and others who practice criminal law about that).

    • That was an interesting read. May I add my two pence worth about the psychopathic personality. They never admit wrong doing. They lie. If a lie is discovered implausible they make up another lie. They victimise people. They are prone to impulsive rages. Most psychopaths go undiscovered and do not have criminal records. The police put great store by ‘previous’ so psychopaths can go under the radar for a lifetime. Appear normal respectable citizens. The extreme cases involving murder are rare. Psychopaths are generally weaving destruction in communities by lying and frustrating the authorities with unreliable evidence. Remember one thing about them. They are callous and lack compassion for others. Don’s behaviour after Haes death is disturbing. I believe he attempted to charm one of Haes close friends ( charm is another trait ) Debbie after the murder, out of pure self interest. Having said all that, on a purely instinctive basis, something does not sit well with Adnan either, I may be very wrong but it is as though he knows more than he is telling. The fact that he is not despairing about Jay’s testimony is strange. He apologised in court at one hearing which must have looked like an admission of guilt. What kind of love did Adnan have for Hae? Was it mostly sexual on his part. We know Hae was a passionate girl and free with her love and sexuality. Boys tend to use girls like that. Who really loved Hae? Her family and friends but not the men in her life. The poor girl was discarded like a rag doll who no longer was fit for purpose… And what was that purpose? When you discover the answer to that you may discover her murder(s). RIP HAE.

      • Hae was a drama queen. Perhaps they had unprotected or somewhat unprotected sex. Maybe she started to speculate that she could be pregnant to Don. How would he respond to such news if he were a sociopath? Maybe in her dramatic way she even nearly convinced him of it? In his mind he could get rid of her before a positive pregnancy test or before she told anyone else about it. Just a thought.

        • I can’t recall all of the details, but I remember reading that the note that Adnan and Krista (?) were exchanging (that had “I could kill…” written on it) was about Hae thinking she was pregnant or pretending to be pregnant. They were laughing about what a drama queen she was. I don’t remember the date of this note, but it definitely made me wonder how Don would have reacted if Hae told him she was pregnant (regardless of whether or not she actually was).

    • Hello,
      I completely agree with your ‘other hypothesis’. I came to the exact same conclusion, and ran across this blog when trying to find when the ‘I’m going to kill, Hae pregnant, abortion’ health note was written. The mentioned pregnancy is a huge red flag from my perspective, but never investigated.

      Hae may or may not have been pregnant. Autopsy said she wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t say that she was pregnant to Don. They are mutually exclusive.

      She didn’t have to be pregnant to tell Don she was – she was desperately in love and he may have been breaking up with her or pulling away. She would have been devastated – and perhaps desperate enough to tell Don she was pregnant, hence the long time and calls to each other the night and morning she disappeared.

      Don fits the FBI profile.
      Don does not have an alibi.
      Don showed no concern about Hae’s whereabouts.
      Don started the “she probably went to California” rumors.

      Hae’s detailed personal diary was on a floppy disk because her ‘nosy brother’ found the written one, so she moved all of her most personal entries to the disk diary. That diary, labeled “Hae’s School…” disappeared after police noted in being in the back of her car.

      Police originally thought Don had an air tight alibi, so stopped pursuing him, after ruling Don out (erroneously as later discovered), I think the police really believed Adnan did it, so ‘end justified their means’ perhaps?

      So Don’s Motive, believing Hae was pregnant was never considered. If he wanted out, 18 years of child support and if Don felt trapped or cornered – that’s motive.

      Hae’s pregnancy, abortion, fears of being pregnant were ‘joked’ about in the “I’m going to kill” letter exchanged in health. I think this a red flag. It sounds as if Hae may have been ‘hooking’ up with Don in November or December 1998, before they officially started dating in January.

      I do believe Don did it. Everything leads to Don, but nobody could figure out a motive if they had only been dating 13 days. I think they were together much longer, long enough for Hae to get or claim to be pregnant. That note in health is the key. Adnan may even have an answer to who killed Hae – it’s possible he just never connected Don and Hae’s claim to be pregnant.

      It should be investigated, it will be hard to prove, but possible.

  68. I think I may be able to explain the discrepancy between the time card that states that Don worked 3 hours 48 min and the other records indicating that he had worked for 4 hours – I have lived in 2 states, and both have had employment laws for hourly workers that state that you can not be scheduled for a shift shorter than 4 hours. (The fact that the states are on opposite sides of the country leads me to believe that they are probably not the only ones with this rule.) Moreover, if you come in to work for a scheduled shift and get sent home (say they were unable to reach you before you arrived for work to tell you that the store was closed due to inclement weather) they are obligated to pay you for four hours, whether there is work for you to do or not, and even if you immediately turn around and leave. It’s not clear to me what triggers that four hour rule – I once asked to leave work due to illness and the (lower-level) manager running the store that day said I could leave after the 4 hour mark because she thought I might end up getting paid for 4 hours anyway – it may be automatic, similar to computerized punch clocks that don’t allow you to punch in less than 30 min after punching out for a lunch break. Therefore, this could just be the difference between hours worked and hours paid.

  69. There is an arrest for a Donald Clinedinst on the 800 block Ellicott Dr. That house is only 1-2 minutes away from where Hae’s car was found. Could it be a relative? Did they live there in 1999?
    Also, there are a couple Clinedinst that are/were Baltimore police officers.
    Could it be that Jay was threatened by dirty cops and testified whatever they told him to say?

    • I don’t think it is relevant to Adnan’s case. The report reads “Donald Robert Clinedinst Jr., 56, of the 800 block of Ellicott Drive, was charged Monday with resisting arrest, driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol, failure to stop after unattended vehicle or property damage accident, attempting to elude police in official police vehicle by failing to stop and failure to control vehicle speed to avoid collision”.

        • Yes, it is Don’s dad. There is another Don B. Clinedinst whose father is a police officer in that area, but that Don is completely unrelated to case.

          • Also, the locations of the arrest of Don’s father for drunk driving is in Bel Air, Maryland where he lives – a long distance from where Hae’s car was found.

          • Bel Air is a long way from downtown Baltimore, where Hae’s car was “found” (at least according to official records). Assuming it was truly dumped in that spot by the murderer, doesn’t it seem a strange spot to dump it if Don were the perpetrator and didn’t have a “Jay” following him around to give him a ride home after? Has anyone heard a reasonable theory about why Don would leave it there and how he would have gotten home? Does anyone have a reasonable theory about who else might be a realistic suspect but with some ties to that neighborhood where the car was dumped?

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  72. Aloha Susan,
    Another excellent episode as usual.
    I’m not sure if it was a “Freudian Slip,” but when Rabia was talking about one of Bilal’s [sp] interviews. He said, that he had asked Adnan, what his relationship to Hae was. And Adnan said that, “She’s a girl I’m seeing.” Is that what he actually said?
    If so , then maybe Adnan and Hae were trying to get back together and Don found out and Sapped? I mean when Hae’s car broke down that one time, she called both Adnan and Don for help.
    Anyway… Just a thought. Mahalo to You, Rabia and Colin. The three of you are awesome!

  73. I wonder what the roads were like on January 16th. If the ice storm that came through on the night of the 13th was enough to close school on the 14th and 15th, would the roads have cleared up enough for Don to even travel at the speed limit if he indeed worked at both stores on the 16th?

  74. Jim Gordon, where’s the evidence that Adnan committed Hae’s murder? Everything the state presented at trial is circumstantial at best. Adnan has a credible alibi soon to be presented in a hearing. I’m not saying Don committed the murder, but to have a falsified time we’d created by his mother before Hae’s body is even found is awfully shady.

  75. The associate ID discrepancy is not surprising considering Lenscrafters/Luxottica would have thousands of employees, and therefore would require IDs longer than 4 digits. These are not global, unique employee IDs as Susan seems to claim. It is very possible that each store would have short non-sequential associate IDs programmed on their POS/timekeeping system which would only be used to log on in that store. It is also possible that the Associate ID listed on the timecard is just the last 4 digits of a longer, unique employee ID. Other discrepancies do remain though, and the additional timecard still seems fishy.

  76. I was actually very disappointed with Serial Dynasty Episode 19. In fact, it turned me off to that podcast. I’m unlikely to listen again. I felt that guys presentation around Don was poorly done, it made little sense and it was potentially damaging to the reputation of an individual who seems highly unlikely to have been involved in these murders—I mean, he was seeing Hae at 10 that night, if he was inclined to harm her he could have done so then.

    If we care about substantiated facts for Adnan, we need to care about this for all parties. Speculation around Don feels even thinner than the flimsy evidence presented against Syed. I don’t think there is any reason to create more victims around this case. There are more than enough victims already. Adan’s legal team can get him a new day in court without going after someone else—unless there is hard evidence that leads us to another person.

    Saying that I think Susan’s presentation on this is excellent, even so, because it does show how lacking the overall investigation was. Don certainly needed to be looked at closely, even if he was an unlikely suspect, because you just never know–and all those close to the victim needed to be ruled out. And he wasn’t. And as Susan states in Undisclosed, This may not serve Don in the long run that he wasn’t more thoroughly vetted.

    I do get why investigators wanted to believe Adnan did this. You have a crime that could only have been initiated within a very short time frame—and Hae couldn’t have been very far from Woodlawn when whatever happened, happened. Whether Hae Min Lee leaves school at 2:20, 2:30 or 3 pm, she was a reliable person, so she was on her way to pick up her cousin (although the theory that she might have decided to stop by a bank first to deposit her paycheck seems plausible). Hae had to have been killed or abducted at the latest by around 3, for her not to have p/u her cousin at 3:15.

    The first persons you would look at are those Hae would have willingly let into her car–and if she left school at 3 (which seemed to be the original thought on the matter), then law enforcement is going to look at anyone from that school who might have gotten into her car there.

    That makes perfect sense to start there.

    The problem though is as nice and tidy as that theory appears to be there is zero evidence (not pushed and perhaps created by investigators) to support that this is what happened.

    I actually think Jay is also an unlikely suspect. The officers had to feed him way, way too much info.

    This investigation should have begun with a thorough check of all the places along the route from Woodlawn to the cousin’s school, interviews the entire way, to see if anyone saw anything.

    The minute you rule out a Woodlawn student, then a random attack (which happens all the time) becomes the best theory of the case.

    • Aloha Kat,
      I enjoy reading your comments and theories. I’m sorry that Bob Ruff / Serial Dynasty ( now Truth & Justice) turned you off. But you should continue to listen it gets better! The experts he brings in and the friends he interviews is remarkable. He just has a different approach as Susan, Rabia and Colin ( whom I hold in the highest esteem). One thing I know for sure, is that while these 4 professionals are working hard to get to the truth and prove Adnan’s innocence, they are also trying to find Justice for Hae and hopefully try and find her true killer.
      Basically the police went after Adnan due to Jay. They never properly looked at Don. Before Don was even interviewed he had already created his fake alibi. The MDPD didn’t investigate his time cards, they just Ass-u-med he had a bonified alibi. Adnan had several alibis to prove he was still at school at the time the state claimed she was murdered.
      There are a lot of things that have recently come out about Adnan, Hae and Don on Truth and Jusice Podcast, that are with listening to. It just gives you a better picture of the ppl involved and what was going on with Hae and her relationships with both Adnan and Don.
      For a long time u felt like you and believed it was more a stranger abduction, but I don’t anymore. All of the lawyers and professionals in this case look and follow every lead reguardless if they like the person or feel uncomfortable . That’s just good detective work. For me Don is at the top of my suspect list! There are just too many questionable things he has said and done and some things Hae and others have said that brought me to that conclusion . Don’t give up on any of the information available. It all intersects at some point, so it’s worth it to be open minded. Have a great weekend.
      Mahalo Nui Loa

      • Mahalo,

        I absolutely agree that Don was not looked into carefully enough. And I will add that I am extremely impressed with the work that Susan, Rabia and Collin have done on this case. It’s exceptional on so many levels.

        Here’s what bothers me about the speculation around Don. You wrote: “Before Don was even interviewed he had already created his fake alibi.”

        I’m assuming you mean Don created a fake alibi.

        My impression of the evidence that has been presented on Undisclosed and even by Bob Ruff is that there is a question as to the validity of the timecards, but no one has definitive proof either way as to their authenticity.

        If I’m wrong, please post the link to any definitive and incontrovertible proof that the timecards were falsified.

        Then there is the matter of how little time there was between Hae leaving school and when she was supposed to pick up her cousin at 3:15:

        The window in which Hae could have been derailed from her plan to pick up her cousin is extremely short. Why would Don even meet with Hae as this time? For what purpose? She had to be at her cousin’s school by 3:15, and then by 6 she had to be at work. So what possible motive could there be for the two to rendezvous for those few moments in the afternoon? Especially considering the two planned on meeting at 10 pm that very night. I don’t think that’s even time for a heavy make-out session.

        And what kind of rage would possibly have built in their relationship after a few weeks that would cause Don to wish harm to Hae, anyway?

        I think it’s very important to examine Hae’s habits. Did she lock her car doors? Did she usually stop for gas on her way to get her cousin? Was she in the habit of saving time via a short-cut through a sketchy neighborhood?

        Had she ever noted a person who made her uncomfortable–someone she maybe ran into in strange places? Was she overly trusting?

        If Adnan didn’t do this, then Jay might have. But again, why would Jay have done this?

        The lack of apparent motive in her killing for me points more to a crime of opportunity by someone who may have just been a little sick.

        And the even frontal lividity, the lack of insect activity on her body, could indicate that she may have been kept somewhere and killed later than was previously supposed. There were limited toxicology tests done–we don’t know if she was drugged. The rape kit seems to have rendered inconclusive results.

        Occams’ razor. Sometimes the simplest solution is the solution.

        A young pretty girl gets into a car and vanishes suddenly-very suddenly–that seems more indicative of a hapchance, wrong place, wrong time event, than a planned execution.

        I follow a lot of crime cases on-line and I do think that even if we wish to solve a crime from our computers, it’s important to remember our limitations. We just may not be able to.

        And feel it’s imperative to be mindful of the harm that can be done to innocent people’s reputations by casting suspicion on them, especially when we are not 100% certain of the evidence we are relying on.

        I really do worry that inadvertently we may do more harm than good sometimes.

        But if you have more conclusive info about Don, I would love to read it. Thank you so much for responding to my concerns.

        • Mahalo,

          I would just like to point out one more thing, I noticed after listening to SERIAL, UNDISCLOSED and the MSNBC DOCKET reports, that other than the DNA testing that I think the Innocence Project is seeking, no one has really vetted the random crime theory for this murder.

          And by that I mean, I haven’t seen any detailed reports going over where exactly Hae would have traveled that afternoon (although there was an interesting theory that she may have stopped to cash her paycheck).

          Don was not thoroughly vetted as a suspect, but neither was the possibility of an unknown perp. Maybe with tests to the evidence at the burial site, this will occur.

          It’s possible this was done to no avail, but I hope someone retraces Hae’s expected journey for that day. Maybe walk the route she would have driven, check out the spots where she might have been vulnerable to a car-jacking–or someplace she might have stopped to pee even. It might be worth looking into police reports from that time. Was there someone suspicious lurking around that people were concerned about? Someone who was approaching cars?

          I tend to believe Adnan that there was never a plan for him to get a ride. That the idea of this was planted into people’s minds. Maybe Hae did leave school close to three, as was originally thought.

          • Kat, your thoughts are reasonable and commendable. I especially appreciate the suggestion of tracing Hae’s expected route and factoring in the short time that apparently elapsed. But if Hae’s mysterious page was from someone whom she knew who assured her that together they would pick up and take her cousin home before going elsewhere, then that short time might be irrelevant. I also would say that “definitive proof” on the time cards may be possible, but what has been presented seems clear and convincing, perhaps not beyond reasonable doubt. Definitive proof is probably beyond the standard “beyond reasonable doubt” for conviction and may be unreasonable to require in regard to supporting propositions for concluding that Don’s behavior was suspicious, at the least. If the corporate entity which owns Lenscrafters would come forth and provide its records, we might all be happier – but there may be privacy concerns or even a failure to preserve those records for this purpose. Also, while I appreciate the assumption that the simplest explanation, undisproven, is perhaps the explanation for Hae’s murder, it is not clear to me that a random event is a better explanation than others proposed.

          • imaquiz,

            I’ve listened to Undisclosed a number of times (all 15 podcasts and the addendums) now granted there is a ton of info there and I would not be at all surprised if I missed something—but what mysterious page are you referring to? Can you point to the blog entry or podcast where this is mentioned?

            From your message to me:
            “But if Hae’s mysterious page was from someone whom she knew who assured her that together they would pick up and take her cousin home before going elsewhere, then that short time might be irrelevant.”

            But would the person paging then be the killer? Or working with the killer? Do you have any reason at all to believe that this was the content of a page? or that Hae was even paged? And has Hae didn’t have a cell phone, how did she agree to someone else picking up her cousin without calling them back? And why would Hae entrust the picking up of her cousin to someone else? Had she been known to do this? This is speculative to the point of bordering on complete fiction. Unless you have a basis in fact, for believing this was what occurred, you could guess at anything.

            I’m not meaning to be contrary, but there has to be some basis in fact for this idea to be helpful to the case.

            You wrote to me:

            “Definitive proof is probably beyond the standard “beyond reasonable doubt” for conviction and may be unreasonable to require in regard to supporting propositions for concluding that Don’s behavior was suspicious, at the least.”

            You are absolutely correct, definitive proof is not necessary to believe that Don’s behavior is “suspicious.” However, to believe it is anything more than that, you should have some hard facts–that have been properly vetted. You must have witnesses willing to go on record, sign affidavits. There are scientific standards that also must be adhered to, depending on the evidence.

            If Lenscrafter won’t go on record or give you docs then you have to find some other means of proving your case–as in a witness willing to sign an affidavit, and one who can produce corroborating evidence to their statement.

            And actually definitive proof is actually below the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” Definitive means: “done or reached decisively and with authority.”

            To produce definitive what your are stating as valid evidence has to at the very least pass certain tests of authenticity and reliability–it must be proof that can be fully verified by an objective party. And if Adnan’s case taught us anything, it should be that a high standard of proof is imperative to a fair and effective judicial process.

            Imagine if Urich had required evidence for his case against Adnan meet that standard? If Baltimore investigators had adhered to the highest possible standards when looking at the evidence, it seems almost certain Adnan would never have been arrested, let alone convicted. (They actually appear to have done more than sloppy work, but that’s another rant.)

            These are real people’s lives we are discussing.

            Don is a real person, not a fictional creation. We must be careful not to condemn anyone in the courts of our country or in the court of public opinion without adhering to the highest possible evidentiary standards. This isn’t a game. These accusations could have profound consequences. I am just asking that you move forward with care. The care you would want to be given.

          • imaquiz,

            Just to add to the last minute pager theory you presented. I actually had a pager in the late ’90s and unless pagers advanced in their technology by 1999, all that you can see on a pager is the phone number or a number sequence that the person paging you sends.

            So I might page someone with my phone number and add “911” to indicate it was urgent, but I couldn’t leave a message the way you can now with a text message on a phone.

            If Hae had been paged the afternoon of her murder, she would have had to call the person back to know what they wanted. Hae did not have a cell phone, so she would have had to either borrow a friend’s or use a pay phone. Is there any indication that she did this?

            I’m not sure where you are getting the mysterious pager-theory from (probably something I missed in the podcasts), but you’ll need to factor in the necessity of Hae calling someone back, for that theory to even begin to work.

          • Aloha imaquiz,

            I heard Hae had a pager, but it was never recovered? Correct me if I’m wrong…
            Have a great day
            Mahalo Nui Loa

          • Mahalo,

            My understanding is that neither Hae’s pager or her wallet was recovered. But her purse was eventually found in the car—I think in the trunk, or under something in the back seat.

            And though a pager might hold phone numbers of those paging Hae. It would not contain texts. For anyone on this forum who is young, a pager was very simple. When you phone someone’s pager you were given a prompt and then you punched in your phone number. You might add a code like 911, to indicate that you wanted a call back right away. But other than a phone number there would be no other info there.

            And Hae did not have a cell phone. So to return a call she would either have to borrow a cell or find a phone booth.

  77. “Intriguingly, and in contrast to every other timecard produced by LensCrafters, Don was credited for working 4 hours on Saturday, despite time entries showing he had only clocked in for 3 hours and 48 minutes.”

    Did he ever work less than four hours and get paid based on that exact timing? I know some places that guarantee you a minimum of paid hours for filling in… like he did here.

  78. Kat and Mahalo – Hae did have a pager. Some people used numbers as the letters they most resembled – provides examples. But Hae and Don could have worked out a code in their hours long phone conversation on the 12th – for example (not that there is any evidence for this), He might have said, for example, if I decide to take off tomorrow, I’ll page you “777” and that will mean meet me at Best Buy (or wherever) at 3:00 p.m..

    I don’t think there is any direct evidence that Hae received a page, but there is indirect evidence. For some reason it seems she had a sudden change of plans while at school. That is circumstantial evidence of information she learned and which she apparently shared with no one. There is no explanation from anyone – family, friends about the reason for her change of plans, but she expressed it in the sense that something had come up that she had to do. A page would have been a private way of receiving information and the only one that I can think of. Since no one has offered to explain an innocent communication to her that caused this result, it is reasonable to speculate that it may have been a communication by page which was in a simple code that by prior agreement conveyed specific information sufficient for her to be excited and change her plans.

    But it is unreasonable to speculate that she would have abandoned her duty to pick up her cousin – she was too responsible for that. So reasonable speculation has to account for both. No one to my knowledge has supplied information about making plans with her that were the reason for her to announce that something had come up that had caused her to change her plans – the only things that others knew she was supposed to do was to pick up her cousin, to go to work later, and to meet Don after she got off work. So, reasonable speculation narrows to this: someone she knew communicated with her while she was at school on the 13th, and that communication induced her to change her plans. Further, she was somewhat excited about the reason for changing plans, but whatever she had to do, it would not keep her from picking up her cousin. Whoever communicated with her and induced her to change her plans was someone she trusted and could expect to take into account that she would have to pick up her cousin. That person would have probably communicated with her by pager because there was no real alternative. And that person has not come forth to provide this information as one would expect an of an innocent person.

    This speculation is not guessing; it is the scaffold of a hypothesis. Hypotheses are not proof but useful for narrowing the scope of investigation – disproving possible hypotheses is an investigative tool. If a hypothesis cannot be disproven, then the next step is to see if its supporting suppositions can be proven – for example, can it be proven that she actually had her pager with her that day? Proving those supporting suppositions strengthens a hypothesis, but in this case, it does not lead to a suspect, only a plausible profile of a suspect. Even if it is a strong hypotheses, it is not proof that anyone who meets the profile is a suspect – for example, if Don met the profile but had an ironclad alibi, then regardless of the profile, he would not be a suspect. And if he had no alibi at all, it is still possible that a random serial killer intercepted her before she could meet Don at their agreed rendezvous (keep in mind this is just a mind-experiment, not something based on fact). To repeat: Reasonable speculation is an investigative tool, not evidence. It is not “guessing,” either.

    Also, I think you misunderstand the relation of “definitive proof” to the legal standards of proof ranging from preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing, and beyond reasonable doubt, but without arguing semantics, I meant conclusively proven in the sense that it is not dependent on subjective value judgments that juries actually use to reach the “beyond reasonable doubt” verdicts. In the real world, such verdicts are easily jeopardized by new information, but math, physics, chemistry, time, distance – and other such metrics are beyond subjective disagreement. So by “definitive proof,” I was simply trying to convey non-subjective but absolutely sufficient evidence which is a higher standard than “beyond reasonable doubt.” This jury decided “beyond reasonable doubt” that Adnan was guilty. There have been plenty of people convicted on the basis of that standard who have been exonerated. That means this standard is met with proof that is less than definitive – a coerced confession, a mistaken eye-witness, an unfortunate visage, a prior criminal history or the coincidence of having no alibi or having known the victim or perhaps an incompetent attorney or a prosecutor who ignores his Brady obligations – the list could go on but I think you see my point.

    • imaquiz,

      You are absolutely correct. Hae did have a pager, but there is no indication that she was paged suddenly that afternoon.

      You write:

      “For some reason it seems she had a sudden change of plans while at school. That is circumstantial evidence of information she learned and which she apparently shared with no one.”

      Something to maybe think about in regard to witness testimony on this case, is that once investigators zeroed in on Adnan as a suspect (and this was almost immediately), there appears to have been a nudging on their part toward witness testimony going in a particular direction. I have to wonder how much of any of the prosecution’s witness testimony can be relied on.

      For example, the woman who said she sold Hot Fries to Hae that afternoon–well there were no Hot Fries in the Hae’s car or any indication that there ever had been Hot Fries in that car that day. It’s really possible these people got their days confused–like the girl who thought Hae was on her way to a certain game. These people, most of whom were very young, were also interviewed more than a month after Hae disappeared. So their memories may be fuzzy for that reason as well.

      I would put forward that, with what we now know about the degree to which the State manipulated Jay’s testimony, and the evidence in general, we can trust very little of their case.

      And I would distrust not only what was presented against Adnan, but the case in it’s entirety, including all the witness testimony. (With the exception of Asia, who apparently wasn’t even spoken to by investigators.)

      Yes. There was someone who thought Hae suddenly got some new info. on Jan. 13, but can we be sure they were right?

      I believe Adnan. I don’t think he asked Hae for a ride. I do believe the initial reports on this case (reports made before Baltimore investigators began to meddle) reports that have Hae leaving at 3 pm. Or very close to this time.

      You write:

      “But it is unreasonable to speculate that she would have abandoned her duty to pick up her cousin – she was too responsible for that. So reasonable speculation has to account for both.”

      I agree that is is unreasonable to speculate that she would not have picked up her cousin, but there is no reason we have to account for a “page” that there is no evidence anywhere of it occurring. You can speculate that Hae received a page, but you can also just as easily speculate that she left at her usual time and was carjacked on route to her cousin. Both theories are possible–it’s just a matter of which is more probable.

      You write:

      “This jury decided “beyond reasonable doubt” that Adnan was guilty. There have been plenty of people convicted on the basis of that standard who have been exonerated.”

      Yes, but the jury made this determination regarding Adnan on the basis of evidence that had clearly been manipulated. No one is arguing (legally) that the jury didn’t meet their obligations on this case. The arguments for a new trial are based in ineffective counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. The “beyond the reasonable doubt” standard is supposed to be reached on the basis of properly verified evidence and by way of a fair trial.

      You are putting Don on trial in the court of public opinion with nothing but your fantasies about the case—and based on those fictions: codes you imagine Hae and Don arranged to be communicated by pager (you do realize there is no evidence of this right?, the possibility that Don might possibly have falsified time-sheets (which even if this were true does not make him a killer). You are in essence doing to Don, in the court of public opinion, what was done to Adnan in a court of law.

      You are creating a case against Don, not based on fact and substantiated evidence, but by way of a fiction you cultivated off of scant information–information that much of which could be completely erroneous.

      The court of public opinion can do as much damage as a court of law, to someone’s life.

      I urge you to remember you are discussing very real people. This isn’t fiction. This is real life.

      And I would be very, very careful relying on anything Urich states as fact. Which of course means we have very little to work with in terms of evidence.

      I rely solely on Susan’s blog LL2; Undisclosed; and The Docket presentations on MSNBC; And Collin who is also excellent, thorough and careful for my information. If you work from those sources and put aside Urich’s theory of the crime (completely shelve it), I believe you are getting your most accurate information.

      • Kat, while we are in general agreement, you seem to ignore my careful attempt to state that my thought process which leads to the conclusion that Don is a suspect in no way is an accusation. It is nothing more than an elaboration on the simple hypothesis that investigators usually start with in a homicide which is that because most homicides involve people who know each other intimately, a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, husband, ex-husband, etc. are considered possible suspects from the git-go – the investigator hopes that they all have easily proven alibis so that the scope of the investigation can be narrowed quickly; other forensic evidence (fingerprints, etc.) can narrow the scope quickly, too. For those remaining in the “possible suspect” category, further investigative technique is necessary, though perhaps insufficient – i.e., regardless of how suspicious someone may be after this process is exhausted, there may be no evidence upon to justify a prosecution. I am in no way “doing to Don” anything like an accusation.

        And if you will please read my post carefully, you won’t ask whether I “know that there is no evidence” for Don and Hae to have worked out a code or even that she got a page that day. I think I made it clear that I was merely reasonably speculating on what was possible and looking at evidence that would support it.
        As far as relying on anything anyone has said, whether in 1999 or now, I am quite aware of the vagaries of memory – I have personally, in my practice, had a witness dramatically change a recorded statement of events that occurred only a year later, with no motive at all, and the changed facts made no difference at all in the case. Even confronted with the prior tape recorded statement, the witness could only respond that his present memory is all he can go on even if it contradicted the statement recorded only 2 weeks after the event. To repeat – the changed facts did not in any way change anything for either party in the case; this witness was not a party, did not have any relationship to either party, and was confronted with the earlier tape-recorded statement. The only conclusion to be drawn is that memories are fragile, can change without motive, and obviously cannot be completely relied on. But they cannot be ignored, either.
        Now I don’t want to be offensive, but I am going to say one more time, my posted speculations are not random guessing, they are not evidence, they do not lead to a conclusion that Don is guilty of anything, and I am not accusing Don of murdering Hae.

        • Aloha imaquiz,
          I agree with you. I guess what I am trying to convey, is that Don lied to police about his alibi. He gave a false scenario about what could have happened to Hae. He tried to avoid interrogation by police. He admitted being afraid police would think it was him. Hae tried to get him to call school on Jan. 13th, to call her out sick. Don lied about the girlfriend he broke up with just before dating Hae and that girlfriend cheated on him. There were numerous write ups on Don’s behavior at work. Hae even said in her Diary, there was something strange about Don, but that she was still going to try dating him anyway ( I believe she was picking up on some abnormal behavior of Don. But couldn’t quite put her finger on it) Don’s false alibi was created on the 13-14th before he even talked to the police.
          As for the pager, it was never found. I feel whom ever murdered Hae took that pager (1) knew Hae (2) knew that they paged her ( 3) knew where she kept it
          I am not 100% convinced that Don did it, but he seems IMO to be the one with the most motive and needs to be looked at more closely. I don’t believe that it was a random act, by a stranger. Like Jim Clemente said. A random person wouldn’t spend so much time with a corpse and take the time to conceal it, they would have fled the area ASAP!
          This is not about, just Freeing Adnan, although I pray for his release everyday. I feel in my heart he will be exonerated. I have to, this poor kid was railroaded and deserves to be free! But I also want to see Justice for poor Hae.
          Have a great day!
          Mahalo Nui Loa = thank you very much😊

  79. From this blog:

    “Nothing more was done to investigate Don’s alibi until September 1999, when Adnan’s defense attorney filed a subpoena under seal requesting that LensCrafters produce all employment records for Don from the relevant time period. On October 4, 1999, LensCrafters produced records that showed Don had not worked on January 13, 1999.

    Thereafter, Prosecutor Kevin Urick had a phone conversation with the LensCrafters legal department. Although the defense’s ex parte subpoena had been filed under seal, he somehow learned of it and obtained his own copies of the documents that LensCrafters had produced to the defense. Two days later, following Urick’s phone conversation with the LensCrafters legal department, LensCrafters suddenly found an “additional time keeping record” that showed Don had, in fact, worked on January 13th.”

    Here’s the question I have, why on earth would LensCrafter’s legal department want to hide a killer or embezzlement. As much as I respect Susan’s work on this, I think Occam’s Razor needs to be applied here. LensCrafter has no dog in this fight. They are a large corporation taken over by an Italian based company, Luxottica Retail, in 1995 or 1996.

    Their corporate headquarters are now in Ohio. I doubt that the Baltimore DA would have been able to wield much influence. The fact that LensCrafters might not be able to locate records immediately seems logical. They are huge and were international in 1999.

    But I have to believe that if there was even the hint of embezzlement by one of their employees this would have been investigated.

    And Susan stated in the last episode of Undisclosed that one branch manager refused to speak directly to investigators and pointed them to the LensCrafter legal department.

    Of course she/he did so. That would be normal standard protocol under these circumstances. An employee would not know what they could legally disclose.

    As shoddy as DA Urich and his investigators were in their investigation on this case, I think the writing is on the wall on this one. What possible reason would an international company like LensCrafters have to be complicit in a coverup with some shmucK DA from Baltimore? Urich may wield power locally–but internationally? I think not.

    LensCrafers is a billion dollar enterprise. What do they care about this?

    • My take on the Don TimeSheet and “alibi” is that when Christina G subpoenaed the records, whoever at LensCrafter compiled these records for her, simply pulled up all timesheets for the employee number known to be Don’s. So the timecard for the 13th didn’t show up in that search.

      Christina, upon receiving the info. that Don had no alibi, didn’t think to double-check this info, because there was no reason for her to question it and the lack of an alibi for Don would have been good news for her–lots of reasonable doubt for Adnan there.

      But this was not good news for Urich. So Urich simply phoned LensCrafter’s legal department and asked that they look again. And when they did so, the second employee number was discovered–not because there was anything suspicious going on, but because someone bothered to look again, maybe spoke to a manager directly and it was discovered that a second employee number existed.

      It makes sense that those whose jobs were reliant on Urich, like Baltimore police and medical examiners, etc. might feel compelled to be complicit in a cover-up. But LensCrafter lawyers, I would hazard a guess, made more money than Urich and had nothing to fear from him. There is no reason why they would lie for him.

      I mean why?

      They were simply willing to double-check for him, so as not to be in contempt.

      I would be willing to wager, (a friendly wager) that Don’s alibi is one of the few true and reliable pieces of evidence that exists on this case.

      And, again, if LensCrafters had discovered falsification of a time card (which they certainly could have, under the circumstances)—everyone involved would probably have lost their job over that.

      Falsifying a timecard is tantamount to stealing.

    • Lenscrafter’s procedure in handling a legal subpoena requesting employment records for Don in 1999 is not obvious. I am an attorney who worked for an even larger corporation than Lenscrafters, and its legal department was organized into regional offices within which were separate legal departments such as litigation, marketing, exploration, employment, etc. A subpoena for employment records would not be unusual and not ring any alarm bells up the chain. I would be unsurprised if the subpoena simply resulted in being directed to the store manager who had the original records rather than the duplicates or summarized records and reports that might be kept elsewhere. The letter to Ulrich that contained the information about the relation of store manager to Don (his mother) indicates that at least the second production was handled at the store level. (So, also, does the fact that the additional records were not produced by Lenscrafters initially.) Otherwise, It is not clear that the either production was anything other than informal, as opposed to being sworn to as being fully responsive to a subpoena by someone with authority and knowledge acting on behalf of Lenscrafters, and meeting the requirements for admissibility (authenticity and business record exceptions to hearsay). If they were investigatory rather than for purposes of trial, and provided no indication that they would be important for trial purposes, that level of care on the part of the attorneys might have been eschewed. It would be helpful to see the subpoenas, the complete documentary responses (as opposed to the bare information provided to see if someone responded under oath) and it would be interesting to examine Ulrich and learn what he discussed, with whom, and most intriguingly, why he even made the inquiry (why did he apparently suspect that there were other records than those produced initially? It would seem most likely that if he felt Don’s or the store manager’s verbal responses to questions about Don’s work on January 13 were contradicted by the response to the subpoena that Ulrich would have first confronted them, not the legal department at Lenscrafters.)

      • You claim to be a lawyer so you should know that nothing around this subpoena would have been done without the legal team for LensCrafters being directly involved. Nothing. I’m truly doubting that you are an attorney.

        I’m a paralegal and what you are stating makes no sense if you have legal understanding.

        Sorry. I don’t mean to be insulting. But you don’t write or reference as an attorney would.

        • 40 years as a lawyer, licensed in 3 states, board-certified in personal injury, Kat. Did you pay attention to my remarks about business records exception to hearsay, authenticity. Do those remarks sound like a non-lawyer? And does the the oddity of a letter accompanying the second production (or even that a second production was necessary) sound (to anyone with litigation experience) like the careful lawyer-supervised response to a subpoena?

          • Aloha Kat and Imaquiz,
            No need going after each other… I respect you both as professionals and enjoy your expert opinions and theories. I don’t always agree, but I enjoy the insight and diversity. So please don’t argue … Not here.
            Now I am not a Lawyer , but I did do some paralegal work and I’m a certified Guardian ad Litum , so my expertise would be family law. However criminal law is my hobby.
            The practices of Urick and Gutierrez could simply be bad verses evil. If you both a honest hard working lawyers/ paralegals it might be hard to wrap your knowledge around the corrupt practices of such lawyers in this case.
            When CG requested those time sheets, it’s obvious to me that Don’s second time card wasn’t produced yet. When Urick called Lens Crafters, I’m sure it took them a few days to respond and I don’t believe he spoke with corporate, otherwise they would have had a copy of the other time sheet. T IMO that second time card was fake! It was produced, because A) the MDPD were inquiring about Don’s alibi B) Urick was inquiring, because he knew something was wrong, so a manager at the store fixed it to help Don and satisfy Urick, so he didn’t call the home office. I
            I hope that makes sence… Sorry I have the flu, I’m burning up with feve, so my thinking is fuzzy.
            Bottom line, I don’t want you all to argue… Keep the peace it’s the Holiday’s and poor Adnan is sitting in prison . Poor Hae’s family has to spend another Christmas without Her. Let’s just keep focusing on Adnan’s exonoration and finding the true killer… Whom I feel is already mentioned in this case!
            Peace and Love to you Both Kat and Imaquiz and your families.
            Have a great day!
            Mahalo Nui Loa

  80. Further, Kat, what one might expect of a large corporation with in-house lawyers and its manner of responding to subpoenas is not necessarily what actually occurs. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington held April 5 in an unpublished decision (In re Consolidated Meridian Funds, Bankr. W.D. Wash., No. 10-17952-KAO, unpublished 4/5/13) found that Moss Adams LLP (one of the 15 largest public accounting firms in the United States) failed to respond sufficiently to a subpoena by not producing emails and billing invoices until two years after the documents were initially requested.

    Michael Avenatti, counsel for Calvert [the trustee], explained to Bloomberg BNA why he thought the court held Moss Adams in civil contempt:

    “Kallander, the current general counsel for Moss Adams, held himself out as an expert on eDiscovery immediately prior to joining Moss Adams,” Avenatti told BNA. “We cross-examined him using articles he had written and statements he had made to show that he had not followed the most basic steps to preserve any of the eEvidence when this subpoena came in.”

    So you see, Kat, that reality does not always meet expectations. Cops and prosecutors sometimes seek a conviction at the expense of justice; corporations are sometimes sloppy or negligent about responding to subpoenas; defense attorneys with great reputations sometimes fail to perform even obvious duties . . . and people who are convicted are sometimes actually innocent. None of this should surprise a paralegal with experience in criminal law.

  81. Pingback: 6 Huge Unsolved Mysteries In The Hae Min Lee Case. | global barbarian

  82. What I very much doubt is that any attorney for a billion dollar corporation like LensCrafter would assist in fabricating an alibi for some case in Baltimore. Corporate lawyers have one allegiance, and that is to the corporation that pays their billables. I have a very hard time believing that anyone on the LensCrafter legal team would assist Urich in producing a false time card for some guy named Don.

    Why would they?

    • I’m glad everyone is enjoying such a spirited discussion regarding Don’s possible alibi. I’m not a legal scholar but it’s interesting to read. In my opinion, even IF there is a possibility that his timecard was falsified/altered to provide him an alibi, I’m 100% convinced he had no involvement/knowledge of Hae’s disappearance or murder. The smoking gun? He had not one, but two chances to paint Adnan as a jealous, seething ex-boyfriend/prime suspect when he testified at both trials. Not only did he pass on those chances, but Urick apparently yelled at him both times for not making Adnan sound menacing enough!

      • 100% sure? You have a point, but had he done that without solid corroboration from those who knew Adnan and Hae well, he would have appeared to “protest too much” – not a smart thing to do, especially when everything is going so swimmingly without participation.

        • Imaquiz,

          I can’t be 100% sure of anything on this case (except that I do feel confident Adnan is innocent.).

          I would want to look at all the documentation, and even then, there is so much on this case that wasn’t adequately documented there may always be pieces missing.

          Beyond the fact that I can’t imagine an attorney representing a billion dollar corporation would aid in falsifying an alibi, and wouldn’t take notice if time-cards were being falsified within the corporation, it is counter-intuitive that Don or Adnan would have harmed Hae in any way. (Other than maybe hurt her feelings).

          This seems especially true given who Hae appears to have been and given the time-frame of the crime.

          Jenn said she didn’t like Hae, but no one has stated that Hae was argumentative, or provocative, that she got into fights, or that she was attracted violent men. Look at Adnan. From everything I can tell of Adnan, he is a sweetheart who would never hit a woman, let alone kill one. If Adnan is indicative of the type of guy Hae went for, it’s really unlikely that Hae would become a victim of some form of Domestic abuse.

          If you look at Hae’s note to Don, she is totally comfortable expressing herself to him—there’s no hint of tension or fear in that note. The note may not have been written on Jan. 13 (Susan makes an excellent case for it not being written on that day), but it is pretty clear it was written close to the 13th.

          Hae vanished on a Wednesday afternoon, right before she was scheduled to pick up her cousin from school. This is something she did every weekday without fail. If someone who knew Hae wished to kill her, there were much better times to do so, and someone who knew Hae would also have access to her at times when her family wasn’t expecting to see her within in minutes of the murder.

          All the testimony around Hae’s disappearance indicates that her family became immediately alarmed when she was a no-show.

          Certainly Don had access to Hae at times that would have been better for committing a murder.

          Also, if you believe Don did this, you have to also believe he is such a psychopath as to kill a girl he had just started dating. And kill her for no apparent reason, in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday–and then be so cunning as to get others to conspire in falsifying a timecard for him.

          You also would have bought into the underlying theory of this case as put forward by the State of Maryland: That this murder was one of revenge against Hae, committed by someone she had an intimate relationship with.

          Given how flawed and fabricated the State’s case appears to be, why would we believe any aspect of it?

          A recap:

          Hae was hit twice in the head and then strangled.

          For a “crime of passion,” that manner of killing seems lacking in the element of passion. It’s a very efficient way to kill someone without a weapon, as in maybe the perp has done this before.

          We don’t know if Hae was drugged or just knocked out by the blows, but whoever did this to her incapacitated her enough to where she does not appear to have fought back. This also seems indicative of someone who knew what they were doing when they killed her.

          Hae wasn’t really “buried”. She was thrown in an area of woods, not far from a main road, and she was covered with leaves. Again—Efficient. All of this smacks of someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who just needed to dispose of the body, but wasn’t all that concerned with the body being found.

          Hae was driving a brand new Nissan when she went missing. And she drove this car every day at the same time. (I think this could have made her a mark)

          Her pager and her wallet were missing.

          We don’t know if she was raped, but her clothing does appear to have been disturbed.

          She lay prone, somewhere, for at least 8 hours, probably 10 hours, after being killed. So where was she?

          None of the above really points to a crime of passion.

          I believe the chances are great that someone who knew her from a distance, or someone who observed her daily commute to her cousin’s school, targeted her. Could have been two or three guys who followed her in another vehicle.

          If you think about it, the only person for whom a daytime abduction at this hour would be advantageous, is someone who HAD to abduct Hae at this time, otherwise, they wouldn’t have easy access to her. Because they didn’t know her well enough to run into her at another hour of the day.

          The fact that she goes missing in route to her cousin’s school might mean that whoever targeted her, only knew of her because they observed her make this trip every day. And on Jan. 13, 1999 they decided to pounce.

          All speculative. It just feels more right. At least to me.

          I guess we’ll see.

      • Dan,

        I agree. Don had many opportunities to join the bandwagon against Adnan and he doesn’t appear to have done so.

        And the only way Don killing Hae works, is if we agree with the State’s underlying theory of the case—that someone Hae was intimate with, killed her in a some kind of rage, on a Wednesday, in the middle of the afternoon, when her absence would be immediately noted by family. And the killer knew this, but killed her anyway.


        It’s a crazy theory. It always was a crazy theory. That Adnan was ever convicted by way of such a theory is terrifying. We can see from the deconstruction of this case that it took volumes of fabricated evidence to make this theory even begin to work.

        Isn’t it time to throw that theory away, and reexamine the evidence from scratch?

        • If we had the actual payroll records and paychecks, that would answer a lot of questions. The required amount of time to keep old employment tax records is 4 years from the date of filing. However, if “fraud” is involved the IRS has no statue of limitations. As such, many(some) corporations keep their payroll and employment tax records for a very long time. They do this mainly since the IRS can come after the individual officers of the corporation for unpaid taxes. All this to say, has Adnan’s attorney tried to subpoena them? Susan should suggest it if they haven’t.

      • Ok, I’ve gotten a lot smarter in the last 2 months, so I’m going to retract this post. First off AFAIK, the only report that Urick actually yelled at Don after testifying came from Don himself. And like Bob Ruff says, it sounds fishy that Urick would do that in the hall of the courtroom where anyone could here. If Don is making that story up, then why? It could be a random example he concocted to try to prove to people he didn’t have it in for Adnan. But if he was involved in the murder, it could have come out subconsciously because he was angry with HIMSELF for not making Adnan sound more menacing. I mean, if the innocent ex-bf is convicted, then the killer goes free right?

  83. RBrown

    For some reason this blog is not letting me post the link to Jason Brown’s (Adnan’s Attorney) site.

    But if you google him you can read the most recent motion that was won.

    I haven’t read the whole thing, but the focus seems to be more on Prosecutorial misconduct; ineffective counsel, an alibi witness that wasn’t heard, and new testimony around the ping info than anything having to do with Don.

    Personally, I think Don is a moot issue.

    • Isn’t the focus of Adnan’s team right now to find grounds for a new trial? I don’t know if any proof of Don’s timecard being falsified would provide that level of relief. Once he has a new trial granted, all sorts of evidence will be fair game IF the state is so asinine as to retry this mockery of a case.

      • Here’s the motion:

        Click to access Order-Granting-Motion-to-Reopen-2015.11.06.pdf


        I agree, I can’t imagine the State of Maryland will retry this case given what has been “Undisclosed” about it.

        The problem I see with bringing up Don as part of an alternate theory to the crime, is that Don as a suspect isn’t actually presenting a “new theory of the crime”. The Don theory fits directly into the State’s theory (now pretty much dismantled), all you are doing is substituting killers.

        But it’s still the same theory. And it’s still deeply flawed. Reading all the new info, the theory that Hae was killed by someone she was intimate with isn’t in keeping with any known, reliable evidence.

        If you buy into the theory that Hae was killed by an angry lover or ex-lover, Adnan actually looks better for the crime than Don does. Don was still hitting it, Adnan had been pushed out—and Adnan’s alibi isn’t bullet proof either.

        But the motion explains what is currently happening.

        • Something that intrigues me about this crime is the time of day when it occurred.

          Once Adnan is cleared of involvement (and for me he is cleared), then suddenly the time of day stands out as being particularly odd and awkward for a violent crime of this nature to be carried out.

          Hae Min Lee had to have been initially attacked between 2:30 pm and 3:15 pm (depending on which witness you believe).

          That means whoever killed Hae, at the very least, abducted her in broad daylight.

          Why would anyone choose to commit a crime like this in the middle of the day?

          (If the killer knew Hae they would also know that she worked late, and 10 pm would be a much better time to perpetrate an ambush.

          So why did the killer go after Hae right at the time she leaves school?

          Whether the motive is rape, theft, both or other—why then?

          Why had that time been chosen? At this point, the killer is in charge. He/She crafts their plan. Why was a daytime attack his/her best option?

          • Aloha Kat,
            Maybe this person A) new that Hae picked up a child every day at this specific time, B) they didn’t know Hae’s schedule at work, probably because it was inconsistent… She was only part time. C) maybe this person had do be at work by a specific time, so this was the only time that worked for them and Hae picking up her cousin was consistent. D) they ( if young) had a curfew or ( if older) is expected to be home by a certain time?
            Just my opinion😊
            Have a great day!
            Mahalo Nui Loa!

          • Mahalo,

            Do you recall where the counter complaint is on this or another site? I missed that. I’d love to read it. Oh, I bet it’s on the Undisclosed doc site. If you know off the top of your head, that would be great.

            I just saw this from you (sometimes it’s hard to see posts on this blog):

            “Maybe this person A) new that Hae picked up a child every day at this specific time, B) they didn’t know Hae’s schedule at work, probably because it was inconsistent… She was only part time. C) maybe this person had do be at work by a specific time, so this was the only time that worked for them and Hae picking up her cousin was consistent. D) they ( if young) had a curfew or ( if older) is expected to be home by a certain time?”

            I would agree with all the above.

            I’ll just add to the list:

            If the killer is a repeat offender, it may be that they found that victims are more trusting in the day. Easier to lull into a false sense of security. 3 pm is daylight, but a lot of people are still at work, so streets and roads might not be as trafficked. If the MO is to ask for directions from the side of the road, that sort of thing, 3 pm might be the perfect time to catch a victim off guard and carjack someone.

            If the killer knew Hae from a distance, say someone who worked at Woodlawn or had graduated or dropped out, the only time they might be certain of her schedule would be this time slot because she was so predictable. They might not know her well enough to ask her about work.

            The killer might be able to sneak away from work during the day, but has a partner they live with and can’t be out at night.

            Perhaps the killer regularly follows young girls from their schools. Maybe this is a child predator.

            3 pm-ish is an unusual time for a murder, but when you get right down to it, there are lots of reasons the crime might have occurred in broad daylight.

            Clearly it did.

          • Aloha Kat,
            I’m not sure where I read it… It may have been a link off of Twitter. However, if you go to C. Justin Browns web site it’s all there @ Brown & Nieto Law Firm

            Also it was posted yesterday: Scheduling Order by, Judge Martin P. Welch
            Status Conference 1/12/2016
            Hearing for Post-Conviction 2/5 – 2/8/2016

        • Aloha Kat and Dan,
          If you read The counter complaint, by the state. It’s clear they don’t have a leg to stand on. They didn’t even site other cases.
          C. Justin Brown is my hero, he ripped the states case apart. Just a little on the original, but after the counter by the state. Justin took it to an all new level… I even found it humorous 😃
          It’s obvious that Adnan will either be exonerated or given a new trial… I’m hoping and praying for the first!
          I know you don’t agree with me Kat, but Don is still high on my list of suspects… Along with, maybe 2-3 others. I can only hope, that after Adnan is freed someone continues to try and find Hae’s killer and not let this case go cold.
          I recently wrote Adnan and suggested, that when he gets out.. He should go to Law School, to continue to fight for other wrongfully convicted ppl, since he has experienced it himself, it would make him an incredible asset to this country and someone to fear in the legal system😊
          Have a great day to both of you!
          Mahalo Nui Loa!

          • Mahalo,

            I hope Adnan is exonerated as well. Rabia has mentioned an Alford Plea, and though I understand why this might be necessary just to get Adnan out sooner than later, my prayers are for full exoneration.

            I agree. Adnan appears to be an exceptional person (judging from the Serial interviews). It will be exciting to see what he does once free. And I do believe he will free.

            Hope it’s soon.

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