Well, it happened — Jay Wilds, the key and only witness in the state of Maryland's case against Adnan Syed for the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999, gave his first interview in 15 years to The Intercept. Though Sarah Koenig and her producer Dana from Serial were able to track down and talk to Jay during the taping of Serial and discussed his testimony in detail in the episode "The Deal With Jay," Wilds would not allow Koenig to tape or broadcast any part of their conversation. Last week, a Facebook user under the name "Slim Wilds" claiming to be Jay made a post saying that he was willing to talk soon to set the story straight and to expose Sarah Koenig for being a manipulative and biased reporter. It looks like that was Jay, after all.
The problem with Jay's interview with The Intercept, which is the first of two parts, is that though he opened up to Natasha Vargas-Cooper, this new interview gives a vastly different timeline to the one that Jay testified with at trial? Though I agree that Sarah Koenig definitely painted Jay in a less favorable light than Adnan Syed, I think this new interview might be doing more harm than good. It just raises myriad new questions about an already extremely complicated and opaque case. And if Jay really does want to make clear the truth as he stated in his Facebook post, this interview only seems to do just the opposite. Some of the things we were left wondering....
Where did Adnan Show Jay Hae's body?
Jay claimed in his first interview that Adnan showed him Hae's body in the trunk of her own car at a strip mall; in the second interview and at trial, Jay says he saw the body at Best Buy; and in this new interview, he claims that Adnan showed him the body in front of Jay's grandmother's house. Why does his story about thing keep changing?
Why Was Jay Involved at All?
In the past, Jay said that he helped Adnan dig the grave and dump Hae's body and later, Jay tossed the gardening tools they used to dig the hole. In this interview, he says that he helped Adnan dig the hole but refused to help with the body, and waited for Adnan while he dumped Hae's body in the grave.
If Adnan and Jay were barely friends, and Jay did not even help with the burial, what was the point of him being there? He says that he went along with Adnan's insistence that he help, but why would Adnan ask Jay to be a part of the crime? Did he simply need a ride to drop off Hae's car?
What Kind of Relationship Did Jay and Adnan Have?
This question is particularly murky and not made clearer by the new interview. Jay says that he and Adnan were just casual acquaintances that smoked weed together once in awhile, but he also says that he knew what kind of pressures Adnan felt from his family and how he felt like a failure after losing Hae. He gives this very poignant description of Adnan's character and behavior:
And the other thing about it, I mean, there looked like there was real hurt and pain. What else could motivate you to choke the life out of someone you cared about? He just couldn’t come to grips with those feelings.
How could Jay possibly infer that about someone he barely knew?
How Will This Affect Adnan's Appeal, If At All?
Because Jay presents a whole new timeline of events in this interview with The Intercept, saying that he and Adnan did not go to Leakin Park until after midnight, Rabia Chaudry, the woman who initially brought the case to Koenig, believes that this interview will help exonerate Adnan Syed at his appeal in January:
What's the deal with the two cars?
In this new interview, Jay says:
He picks Adnan up at Best Buy in Adnan's. Adnan is not in a car. Hae's car is not present in the parking lot.
They go to "Cathy's" house to smoke.
Adnan says they have to part ways; either he drops Jay off at home or Jay gets a ride from someone else.
Later, after Jay agrees to help Adnan bury the body, they drive to Leakin Park in Adnan's car. But they have to move Hae's car and drive both back—how did Adnan get both HIS car and Hae's car to Leakin Park? This is where the question of the third party really comes into play.
Why Does Jay Keep Changing His Story?
Jay seems to remember very specific details, like what Adnan said on the phone or how Hae's body looked, but he can't seem to get his timeline straight. This is why it often still seems like he is protecting someone else that could have been involved.
The Elephant in the Room: Will Sarah Koenig respond?
At this point, she is kind of obligated to, as Jay's interview is framed as a response to what he thinks was a misrepresentation of himself on the Serial podcast. It's just a matter of when and how Koenig will engage with this interview, and if it will change her feelings about the outcome of the podcast.
We'll update with the second part of the interview, and any more questions we might have (it seems like there are always more and more questions and never answers).