Jay Wilds, the key witness from the murder case at the center of the popular “Serial” podcast, has spoken out publicly for the first time about the podcast and his role in the case.
In an interview with The Intercept, which will be published in several parts, Jay said he was portrayed unfairly and that the “Serial” podcast was misleading.
Jay was a major focus of journalist Sarah Koenig’s investigation that became the wildly popular, 12-episode “Serial” podcast. Jay testified against his friend, Adnan Syed, who was later convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee when they were both high school students in Baltimore in 1999.
Jay was only identified by his first name in the podcast, and he became the focus of many conspiracy theories on Reddit, in part due to Koenig’s criticism of his testimony. There were some inconsistencies in the statements Jay gave police after Hae’s body was found, and the prosecution had no forensic evidence tying Adnan to the crime.
Jay stood by his story when he talked to The Intercept, saying Adnan talked about hurting Hae a week before she disappeared.
Her body was eventually found in a Baltimore park, and prosecutors argued that Adnan killed her because they broke up and he was jealous that she had a new boyfriend.
“[Adnan and I] were in the car, we were riding, smoking,” Jay said. “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.'”
He said he didn’t take Adnan’s threats seriously at the time and thought he was just blowing off steam, but tells the Intercept:
From the way he carried himself, at least, it looked like he had never lost anything before. And it was really hard for him to deal with being on the losing end. In that situation, he was the loser. And people were starting to find out he was a loser, ‘Oh, you and Hae aren’t together anymore. She got a new boyfriend?’ And he didn’t know how to deal with that.
Throughout the podcast, there were moments when Jay’s story changed — details about locations, times, etc., were swapped or muddled — this was supposed to be proof that Jay had something to hide.
But Jay’s side of the story carries a different explanation.
In the interview, he says:
Well first of all, I wasn’t openly willing to cooperate with the police. It wasn’t until they made it clear they weren’t interested in my ‘procurement’ of pot that I began to open up any. And then I would only give them information pertaining to my interaction with someone or where I was. They had to chase me around before they could corner me to talk to me, and there came a point where I was just sick of talking to them. And they wouldn’t stop interviewing me or questioning me. I wasn’t fully cooperating, so if they said, ‘Well, we have on phone records that you talked to Jenn.’ I’d say, ‘Nope, I didn’t talk to Jenn.’ Until Jenn told me that she talked with the cops and that it was ok if I did too.
Adnan is currently in prison for Hae’s murder, but he is still trying to prove his innocence.
The Innocence Project at the University of Virginia is investigating the case and has reportedly identified several alternative suspects. They are now aiming to test previously untested DNA from the case to see if the evidence will exonerate Adnan.
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