“Serial” Killer

Serial Podcast has taken the internet by storm. Picture courtesy of Slate.com

“Serial” Podcast has taken the internet by storm. Picture courtesy of Slate.com

Jace Jenican, Opinions Editor

The past three months, something unexpected has become a cult classic on the internet: “Serial”, a podcast about a 1999 murder. The premise is that a reporter, Sarah Koenig, was contacted by Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and aunt to a man convicted of killing his high school ex-girlfriend. Chaudry vehemently believes that her nephew Adnan Syed is innocent and implored that Koenig investigate the inconsistencies of the case. There are twelve episodes chronicling her re-investigation of this cold case: her calls with Adnan, interviews with witnesses, trips to the crime scene. The twists and turns of the case are truly captivating as with each episode one may change their mind on Adnan’s guilt.


Hae Min Lee was found dead in Leakin Park in Baltimore, Maryland on January 13th, 1999. The state’s primary witness against Adnan was Jay, Adnan’s drug dealer, who claimed that Adnan admitted he killed Hae to him and asked him to help bury the body. Jay admits to helping Adnan bury the body, but a lot of his story has changed since its original telling or doesn’t match up with cell phone records and cell phone tower pings. Also, a girl who did not testify at trial, Asia, claims to have seen Adnan in the Woodlawn Public Library (which is adjacent to Woodlawn High School) at the time when Hae was supposed to have been murdered. One big hole in the state’s case against Adnan is his motive. The prosecutors claimed that he was filled with jealousy after Hae broke up with him; however, this is doubtful. The two had been broken up for over a month, and many of Adnan and Hae’s friends claim that they had a cordial relationship. Adnan was even friendly with Hae’s new boyfriend.  These are the biggest inconsistencies in the case, but there are many facts that do condemn Adnan. For example, a call to Adnan’s new girlfriend, Nisha, pinged a tower near the Best Buy by Woodlawn High School where the murder supposedly took place. Adnan claims that Jay had his phone at this time, but Jay had never met Nisha before and would have no reason to call her unless Adnan was there.


Now why did “Serial” become so popular? It is because of its authenticity.  It is a real crime, with a real suspect, and real evidence. People love the fact that they get to theorize about what they think happened and, in a case shrouded in mystery, every theory is equally valid. Mrs. St. Amant says that she likes that it “explores a case that is rife with complexity and ambiguity. It throws listeners into the mentality of both an investigator and a member of a jury, forcing us to ask questions, consider multiple possibilities, and draw conclusions.” Another part of the podcast that attracts listeners is its neutrality. Koenig neither advocates for nor condemns Adnan which allows the listener to form their own opinions about the evidence and often “listeners who feel one way in the first episode may likely feel very differently in the end of the final recording.” So if you have nothing to do one weekend, try binge listening to “Serial”–you won’t regret it.