Fangirl Friday today is going to focus on Sarah Koenig and SERIAL. SERIAL you guys. If you haven’t listened to it, you’re missing out. In fact, change all your plans this weekend (Valentine’s Schmalentine’s) and hook up your ear buds to your iPhone as soon as possible. You could even make it a couples activity! Like, listen to it naked or something, whatever, I don’t care, just check it out. SERIAL first premiered in October of 2014 and the final episode was posted on December 28, 2014. I picked it up in January because I kept hearing about how amazing the story was, and by the time the weekend was over, I’d listened to it in its entirety. It helped I had a long drive on Friday, because after the first episode, I was already hooked and I think I listened to 6 episodes that day alone.
SERIAL is a spin-off of This American Life on NPR and follows the story of Adnan Syed, who was charged with and later convicted of the murder of Hae Min Lee. Adnan and Hae were high school sweethearts in Baltimore, Maryland in 1998. They broke up, as high school students often do, and on January 13, 1999, Hae went missing. Her body was found in a city park on February 9. It was later determined that she died of strangulation by hand. Yikes. Now, we’ve all watched enough Law & Order to know that Adnan was going to be the #1 suspect in Hae’s murder. Adnan of course said he didn’t do it, but he also can’t remember exactly what he was doing on that random afternoon in January, so he doesn’t have an alibi (and he admitted he was pretty high the whole afternoon – cautionary tale kids, don’t do drugs). He has this friend Jay who steps forward and tells the cops that Adnan told him he murdered Hae, and asked him to help bury the body, which Jay says he did (PS – Jay is dumb – if a friend asks you to help bury a body the answer is NO, and then you probably need to get new friends). So, Jay goes to the police, tells them everything, and even takes them directly to Hae’s car. Jay clearly know something, and things don’t look good for Adnan. BUT Jay’s testimony is kind of sketchy and changes quite a bit. As a side note – per the podcast, and testimony from the community, Adnan was a pretty good kid prior to being, you know, CHARGED WITH MURDER. One of the things that Koening struggles with the entire podcast is whether she was talking to, and in some ways developing a friendship with an innocent guy or a sociopath.
Jay’s testimony, specifically the fact that he knew where Hae’s car was located, is obviously pretty damning, and Adnan is convicted on February 25, 2000. He plead not guilty. No plea deal. He’s been serving a life sentence ever since.
Sarah Koening first hears about the case in 2013 because some friends of Adnan’s who believe he is innocent sent her an email asking her to take a look at the case. Koenig used to be a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and covered a story about Adnan’s defense lawyer, specifically focusing on the fact that the lawyer was later disbarred for mishandling client money. After reviewing the case, and most notably, the holes in the story, Koenig started investigating. The 12 episodes of SERIAL are the result of her investigation. I won’t spoil it for you and tell you what happens, but I will say that in each episode I was left with more questions than answers. And the whole time you’re listening you’re thinking about the gravity of the situation, that this is a real story, not just a podcast based on a page-turning James Patterson thriller. Adnan is in jail in Baltimore, and a 17 year old girl is dead.
The character of “Jay” is the most confusing. You’ll learn pretty quickly that there’s something sketchy about Jay. And, even more interesting, there is a classmate of Adnan’s who claims she saw him at the library around the time Hae was murdered. The defense lawyer never talked with this witness, and she was not at the trial.
Koenig does a great job on the podcast and is in the works for a Season 2 sometime in 2015. I liked her voice and her reporting style, and her assistant Dana is a total bitch, but good for some laughs here and there. Last I checked the podcast had been downloaded over 68 million times. So after listening, who do you think did it and what are your theories?
Spoiler Alert: After you finish listening, or if you just don’t want to listen, but are curious about the current status of the case, here’s an update.