Friday, July 17, 2015
Hae's brother Young has posted another comment:
As was the case with his prior comment, this comment gives us some valuable additional insight into the investigation.
Here's the discussion of Hae's computer on the Serial website. Here are the relevant portions of the two Progress Reports referenced in that post:
So, at some point on or before February 9, 1999, (1) Detective O'Shea (Baltimore County) seized Hae's computer "in hopes of retrieving information that may have been relative [sic] to his missing persons investigation;"* and (2) Detective Rau (Baltimore County Computer Crimes Unit) "served a subpoena for computer records of America On Line in reference to the victim's E-mail account."
Thereafter, on or before February 16, 1999, Detective Rau "was told to cease his investigation into the information related to the computer by his supervisor...as a result of the missing person investigation being upgraded into a Homicide case assigned to Baltimore City." On February 16, 1999, Lieutenant Keel of the Baltimore (City) Homicide Unit requested assistance from the Baltimore County Computer Crimes Unit, which led to "Detective Rau stat[ing] that he would obtain a Search and Seizure Warrant for the contents and information."
As noted by the folks at Serial,
And that’s the last we hear of it. There are no more reports on the topic and nothing in the case file relating to the results of the search and seizure warrant.
The Baltimore City Police Department told us they never had Hae’s computer in their possession. So we asked the Baltimore County Police Department where it ended up. After four months and some gentle reminders about public information laws, the County got back to us: "At this time, we have not found any additional items including the computer, records, or reports."
Adding Young's comment to the mix, I think that everything makes sense: Baltimore City never got Hae's computer, and Baltimore County no longer has the computer because they returned it to Hae's family a couple of weeks (or so) after it was seized by Detective O'Shea. So, the computer likely would have been returned sometime in February or early March, 1999.
It is unclear whether Detective Rau ever obtained a warrant and, if so, whether that warrant was for a search of Hae's computer and/or her AOL account. There's no documentation in the MPIA files of such a warrant being obtained, and there's no documentation of information about Hae's computer/AOL account being passed along to Baltimore City. Of course, there's also no documentation about the computer being released to Hae's family.
Given the timing of the computer's return and the lack of documentation, the safest assumption seems to be that Baltimore City never received any information about Hae's computer or her AOL account.** It seems like Detective Rau and/or Lieutenant Keel would be in the best position to contradict that narrative. Assuming they can't, it seems clear that the Baltimore City police lost the opportunity to investigate a possible goldmine of information that could have pointed toward Adnan's innocence or guilt.
*According to the folks at Serial, this was in part because "Hae wrote in her diary that she had copied parts of the diary into her computer."
**The other scenario would be that this information was received but never documented/disclosed.