Jay From Serial Podcast Speaks
He says he thinks podcast unfairly represented him
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2014 9:32 AM CST
"Serial" logo from podcast's website.   (Serial)

(Newser) Serial fans are getting a Christmas present a few days late: Jay, the key witness in the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee and one of the main people around whom the podcast's story centered, has given an extensive interview. Jay, for those who didn't listen to the 12-episode series, is the person who, at 18, told police and the court that he helped his friend Adnan Syed, Lee's 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, dump Lee's body after Syed murdered her. Syed was convicted of the crime and is serving a life sentence, though he's always maintained his innocence; the podcast—a spinoff of This American Life—investigated the question of whether he did it. Host Sarah Koenig was only able to speak to Jay once, and not formally, but now he's given an interview to the Intercept. (Koenig never revealed his last name—it's Wilds.) Highlights from Part 1:

  • Why he's talking: He "feels strongly that he was unfairly depicted by Koenig and that she painted a highly misleading portrayal of him and his role in the case," writes interviewer Natasha Vargas-Cooper.
  • Why he helped Adnan: "At the time I was convinced that I would be going to jail for a long time if he turned me in for drug dealing, especially to high school kids. I was also running [drug] operations from my grandmother's house. So that would ruin her life, too," Jay says, adding that Adnan knew he was scared of that exact thing. He also notes that Baltimore culture played a role: "This is where the 'Stop Snitching' video comes from. ... This is where people would have their house firebombed and still tell the police they knew nothing about it."
  • How he lays out the timeline: He says he and Adnan were ditching last period together when Adnan decided to lend Jay his car and cellphone so Jay could go buy a present for his girlfriend while Adnan went back to school for practice. Later, Adnan calls asking Jay to pick him up at Best Buy, where Adnan tells him he killed Hae, but Jay doesn't see Hae's body or her car. This is between 3pm and 4pm, he says. Jay and Adnan leave the Best Buy to smoke pot at Jay's friend Cathy's house, and after Adnan gets a call from the police, he starts panicking and wants to part ways. He drives off; Jay gets home around 6pm, but at some point Adnan calls from outside Jay's grandma's house and at that point shows Jay Hae's body. After Jay agrees to help, Adnan leaves and comes back hours later. They go to Leakin Park close to midnight, where Jay helps Adnan dig the grave but refuses to touch Hae's body. He also helps Adnan move Hae's car.
  • Why his story has changed over time: He says he wasn't willing to cooperate with police at first, and only became "more transparent" when they told him they weren't interested in prosecuting him over drugs. He also says he wanted to protect his family and friends, so he changed details like seeing Hae's body for the first time in front of his grandma's house.
Click to read the full interview. No word yet on when Part 2 will be posted.