Korean-American teen, Hae Min Lee, was killed in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 1999. Although Adnan Syed was charged, found guilty, and convicted to life in prison over her death, the case left a lot of unanswered questions.
No physical evidence connected Adnan Syed to the murder, but he was still convicted despite maintaining his innocence. To this day, the case of Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee is still a mystery to a lot of people.
All the evidence used in the case was circumstantial, but the jury still found Adnan guilty of the murder, and he was locked up in prison in 2000.
Adnan was accused of killing Hae Min, his ex-girlfriend, while they were still students at Woodlawn High School. They kept their relationship a secret due to the many religious and cultural differences between them until their break up in December 1998.
It was believed that the fact that Adnan was a Muslim played a considerable role in his conviction as a murderer. Here is a look at the link between Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee.
Hae Min's Life And Tragic Death
Hae Min was born in Korea but went to America with her mother and brother when she was 12. Her father was against the idea, so he remained in Korea and eventually cut off contact with the family.
While attending Woodlawn High School, she was part of the lacrosse and field hockey teams. She also managed the wrestling team.
Hae Min was last seen on January 13, 1999. She was 18 at the time, and she was driving her Nissan from school to pick up her 6-year-old cousin before going to work at LensCrafters.
She worked at LensCrafters, intending to become an optician someday.
The young girl was reported missing after she did not manage to pick up her cousin from daycare at around 3:15 p.m. Hae Min also failed to show up at work.
Hae Min never made it home, and on February 12, 1999, her body was found at Leakin Park in Baltimore. She was suspected of having been murdered because she appeared to have been strangled.
She was found at a location associated with homicide victims. Hae Min's family was devastated on hearing about her death.
James Wilson, the principal of Woodlawn High School, remembered her as a warm person, liked by all students.
How The Serial Podcast Reevaluated Adnan Syed And The Murder Of Hae Min Lee
The questionable connection between Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee got renewed interest in 2014, thanks to Sarah Koenig's podcast, Serial.
Koenig took a year investigating Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee.
The podcast looked at the mystery behind Hae Min's murder in Maryland in 1999.
It focused on finding out how the criminal justice system had failed to prove that the alleged connection between Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee had any basis.
The story got so popular that it was downloaded more than 40 million times in 2014 and even managed to win a Peabody Award.
How Authorities Connected Adnan Syed And The Murder Of Hae Min Lee
When they first found Hae Min's body, the police did not think Adnan had anything to do with it.
They thought the teenager's death was connected to another girl from Woodlawn High, Jada Denita Lambert, who had been found strangled a year before.
Their suspicion that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee had a connection started when they got an anonymous phone call saying that 17-year-old Adnan had killed Hae Min.
Adnan was put under arrest on February 2, 1999, and charged with committing first-degree murder.
To make matters worse, his friend Jay Wilds said that Adnan had asked him to help bury Hae Min's body. Initially, Wilds denied anything to do with the case before making the shocking revelation.
The police also thought that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee were connected after they saw him as a jilted lover. As far as they were concerned, the broken relationship was a good motive for the murder.
Authorities were able to subpoena AT&T Wireless for Adnan's call records. The evidence from his phone records suggested that Adnan was at the scene of Lee's body when she went missing.
The Problem With Linking Adnan Syed And The Murder Of Hae Min Lee
According to some, the vast inconsistencies in Wilds' story suggest that he might have been a coached witness. Initially, he said he had been to McDonald's that afternoon but later said he visited his friend Adnan.
The taped interviews he had with the police also had unusual features. For instance, prolonged pauses and strange taps suggested that he was directed on what to say.
He made an incriminating claim during these bizarre taps and even said sorry to those with him. These details only came to light several years after the end of the case that determined that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee were linked.
In 2014, he admitted to lying to the police out of fear that his friend would get him into trouble because he was a drug dealer.
Adnan's lawyer, Maria Christina Gutierrez, also became a big problem. The judge called her a "liar" within the jurors' earshot as the two argued on the bench.
The first trial was declared a mistrial, and another one began. Adnan's family still maintained Gutierrez as Adnan's lawyer.
Jury Believed Adnan Killed Hae Min Over "Hurt Pride"
After the first case ended in a mistrial, the second case started in January 2000.
Assistant Attorney Kevin Urick linked Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee by claiming that he chose to kill because his pride was hurt. Others believed that the end of the relationship made Adnan kill Hae Min.
Many felt that he had shared details about their relationship as a fact of their romantic life. According to some, he was just helping the police with their investigations into the case.
These claims were also made by Chaudry, the author of Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial. She was also an Undisclosed co-host.
Nevertheless, the jury was convinced that Adnan killed Hae Min because his pride was hurt.
This perception of him was not helped by the fact that Hae Min specifically talks of Adnan as being possessive and incapable of being unable to let her go.
On February 25, 2000, the claim that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee were connected was established after he was found guilty of the murder and given a life sentence plus 30 years.
The Jury's Decision Took Two Hours
The trial ended in Adnan being sent to jail, took six weeks, and the jury deliberated for 2 hours.
After the ruling and the conviction, Adnan expressed optimism and claimed that he had faith in the Lord because he knew he did not kill her.
Charles H. Dorsey III replaced Gutierrez as Adnan's lawyer after the conviction. He tried to argue that the murder was a crime of passion.
Dorsey probably made the connection between Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee seem more real by claiming that Adnan had "made a bad decision."
Nevertheless, Adnan still insisted that he was innocent of the charges he was facing.
Hae Min's mother, Youn Wha Kim, said that she left a difficult life in Korea to ensure her kids would have a decent education and future.
She also forgave Adnan and said that her daughter would be buried in her heart for as long as she lived. After leaving the stand, Hae Min's mother almost collapsed.
Another Look At Adnan Syed And The Murder Of Hae Min Lee
The authorities found no proof that Adnan was a violent man. Therefore, it was assumed that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee had a connection because he had the potential to be violent because of his religion.
Fortunately, Adnan got a post-conviction hearing in February 2016, which looked at the critical things left unaddressed during his initial trial by his defense team.
Previous attempts by Adnan to appeal his ruling had all failed.
His new lawyers pointed out Gutierrez, his initial lawyer, had forgotten an important witness who could have helped prove that Adnan was many miles away from the crime scene when the murder happened.
Ultimately, his initial conviction was vacated, and Judge Martin Welch ordered a new trial. However, the decision was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2018.
His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2019 but attempts to get him a new trial continues.
The Serial podcast is believed to have played a considerable role in helping raise important questions about the link between Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee.
Evidence Proving There Was No Connection Between Adnan Syed And The Murder Of Hae Min Lee
Asia McClain, Adnan's friend, explained that he was in the library until 2:40 p.m on the day Hae Min died. However, this was in contrast to the testimony given by Hae Min's wrestling co-manager.
The co-manager had claimed that Hae Min had been at a wrestling match. Further investigations found out that there had been no wrestling match that night.
It was also discovered that the autopsy report was in contrast to the accusations Adnan faced during his trial. The report suggested that her body was placed face down for at least 8 hours after her death before being buried at Leakin Park.
Additionally, the calls used to accuse Adnan of being present at the scene of Hae Min's burial were found to be unreliable. Only outgoing calls can be used to determine location, yet the two main phone calls used against him in court were incoming calls.
Guiterrez did not act on this information during the trial, giving the prosecution a chance to use the incoming calls in bad faith to connect Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee.
Additionally, there was evidence that Jay Wilds may have been coerced into testifying against Adnan, given the inconsistency of his claims.
He might have also been motivated by money, as there was a $3,075 reward for information leading to the arrest of Hae Min's killer. In fact, during his interactions with authorities, he talked about a motorcycle that was on sale for about $3,000.
So, Who Killed Hae Min Lee?
To date, it's not apparent who killed Hae Min Lee, but there are many theories about the mysterious murder.
Some believe that Adnan and Wilds were behind the young woman's death since Wilds was able to lead the police to Adnan's car.
Some believe that Adnan intended to frame Wilds for the murder, but Wilds managed to get to the police first.
Adnan called Wilds "pathetic" while he went to the witness stand in court. Due to this, many people wonder why he wouldn't have called him a liar instead if Wilds was making false accusations against him.
The other theory is that Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee were linked because he was unable to move on after their breakup. Some people also suggested that Hae Min's new boyfriend, Don Clinedist, whom she had started dating in January 1999, was the reason Adnan murdered her.
Unfortunately for Adnan, only his mother could verify his alibi when Hae Min died.
Some people also think that the stranger who found Hae Min's body, Alonzo Sellers, might be responsible for her death.
It was curious that he walked 127 feet into the park to pee. However, he passed a polygraph test, and it was concluded he had gone into the woods for privacy.
What Next For Adnan?
Despite all the unanswered questions about Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee, Lee's family still believes he was responsible for her death.
They were happy when the court rejected Adnan's attempt to get a new trial, saying they were looking forward to celebrating her memory rather than her killer's freedom.
Adnan remains in prison to this day, and he is probably the only person who knows the truth about Hae Min's murder. There are no signs that he will be a free man soon.
As of 2022, DNA testing is being considered a solution to the many unanswered questions about Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee. This came after the State Attorney agreed that DNA testing was necessary to determine if Adnan had killed his ex-girlfriend.