Why Hae Min Lee's Boyfriend Don Clinedinst Won't Be In 'The Case Against Adnan Syed'


At the beginning of 2014, Serial transformed high schooler Hae Min Lee's 1999 murder from an aging case into a topic of national discussion. Now, five years later, HBO's The Case Against Adnan Syed is picking up the story and reconnecting with some of the case's key players — but one figure that viewers won't be getting updates about is Don Clinedinst, who was Lee's boyfriend at the time of her death. Paste reports that during the making of the docuseries, filmmaker Amy Berg and her crew managed to track Clinedinst down, but stated that "he declined to participate in the film because 'his health is failing and he has two children and a wife.'"

Still, Clinedinst has commented about the case in the past. On the final episode of Serial's first season, host Sarah Koenig revealed to listeners that while Clinedinst had been hesitant to speak to her prior to the podcast's premiere, he eventually changed his mind. She said that Clinedinst did not want her to play a recording of their conversation, but reiterated what they'd discussed, saying, "Don does not appear to know what happened to Hae, or why it happened to her, or whether Adnan is guilty." (Adnan Syed, Lee's ex-boyfriend, was convicted for her murder in 2000 but has maintained his innocence in connection to the crime. Both Serial and The Case Against trace his attempts to appeal his conviction).

While Clinedinst was eventually willing to talk to Koenig for Serial, there's one figure whose involvement in The Case Against Adnan Syed may have kept him from wanting to participate at all: Rabia Chaudry, a friend and advocate for Syed whose book Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After ‘Serial' alleges that the police did not properly investigate Clinedinst. (Bustle reached out to the Baltimore police department regarding these claims, but did not hear back by the time of publication. Clinedinst has asserted he was not involved in Lee's murder, and could not be reached by Bustle for comment).

As reported by People, Clinedinst was cleared by police as a suspect because he had an alibi — he was working at Lenscrafters at the time Lee disappeared. Chaudry, however, claimed to People that this alibi was provided by a store manager who was the girlfriend of Clinedinst's mother, and that police were unable to reach him until 1:30 a.m. the day after Lee disappeared. Chaudry clarified to the outlet that she thinks his actions were "incredibly suspicious" and that this warrants further investigation, but that she "won't leap to the conclusion that [Clinedinst] is guilty."

As for Syed, he was granted a retrial in 2016, but after two appeals by the state, Maryland's Court of Appeals ruled on Friday to uphold Syed's conviction, CNN reported. His attorney, Justin Brown vowed to keep fighting for Syed in a statement posted to his website, but it's unclear how the case will move forward. And though Clinedinst declined to participate in The Case Against, his name is permanently entangled in Hae's story.