Jay From The ‘Serial’ Podcast Opens Up For First-Ever Interview
On January 13, 1999, Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student from Baltimore, Maryland went missing. About six weeks later, her body was found in a nearby park buried in a shallow grave. Autopsy results would later conclude Lee died from manual strangulation. Her ex-boyfriend, 17 year old Adnan Syed became the primary suspect in the case and in December 2000, Syed was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Journalist Sarah Koenig is the host and executive producer of the Serial Podcast, which tells one true story week-by-week. The wildly popular podcast debuted in October and has developed a cult-like fan base of listeners addicted to the show. Koenig and her team were first introduced to Syed’s case one year ago by a friend of Syed who believes he was wrongfully convicted, and decided to report on the facts not to exonerate Syed. The 12-episode podcast begins by putting together the pieces of the case starting from January 13, 1999 and runs up until present day with interviews from Syed’s family, friends he went to school with and Syed himself.
The prosecution’s key witness against Syed is Jay Wilds, a former classmate who in exchange for testifying that he helped Syed dispose of Lee’s body, received no jail time for his part in the crime.
Despite Koenig and her team showing up at his door step unannounced to speak to him about his account of what took place 15 years ago, Wilds would not allow Koenig to interview him for the podcast, which is a spinoff of “This Is American Life” series. Now that the podcast has ended, fans are searching for answers and acting as amateur gumshoes to fill the gaping holes in the case. Since then The Intercept contacted Wilds and convinced him to come forward. Wilds, now in his 30s, maintains his version of events is accurate and believes Koenig painted him in a misleading light.
What did you know about Adnan and his relationship with Hae Min Lee?
I think that was his first real girlfriend, and I think that’s why his reaction was so strong. I don’t think it meant that much to her. I don’t think that’s wrong, it’s high school, you know. She’s a high school girl, ‘Oh, he’s cute, Oh, whatever’—things fizzle out. I think there was another dude or something, or whatever. I really didn’t know much about their relationship, if they hung out, where they hung out, when they hung out.
How do you remember Hae?
For our age group, she was really independent. I believe she had a job also. But she seemed to be more mature, like she was two, three, four years older than us. Like she was a junior in college. The way she moved and went about her day. She just seemed like an older chick who happened to be in high school. She also wasn’t on the magnet side of the demographic.
When did he first talk to you about hurting her?
It was at least a week before she died, when he found out she was either cheating on him or leaving him. We were in the car, we were riding, smoking. He just started opening up. It’s in the evening after school, we never hung out in the morning. Just normal conversation like, ‘I think she’s fucking around. I’m gonna kill that bitch, man.’ Nothing real pointed or anything, not like, ‘I know his name,’ or ‘I caught her.’ But I just thought he was just shooting off like everyone else shoots off when they’re mad at their girlfriend. He never said anything like, ‘Hey, what gauge gun should I use?’ or ‘How many minutes am I supposed to hold somebody under the water for?’ or, ‘Is there a statute of limitation on murder?’ I thought he was just blowing off steam and bullshitting. I thought at worst he’d throw a rock through her window or something. Normal high school ‘I’m mad at her and I’ll scratch her car’ sort of stuff.
I had never known anybody who had killed anybody else, so there’s no way I could have known.
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