EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Maryland State Police Aviation Unit Declined a Request to Search For Hae's Sentra Via Helicopter

This is neither here nor there, but I came across this document in the MPIA files from the Adnan Syed case:

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.17.47 AM

I wonder why the request was denied. It seems like a murder case is pretty high priority, and Hae's Sentra was eventually found pretty close to Leakin Park. According to the Aviation Unit/Command,

The Maryland State Police Aviation Command is a public safety organization. Its mission is to protect and improve the quality of life through the airborne delivery of emergency medical transportation, law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security and disaster assessment services to citizens of the State of Maryland and its neighbors 24 hours a day.



| Permalink


when did Jay take them to the car?

Posted by: Matt Aronowitz | Sep 14, 2015 9:01:54 AM

Interesting. So the police clearly didn't know where it was still as of 2/17. Still very interested to know if they found it first or if Jay really knew where it was, either because he came across it at some point during his normal routine or because he was actually involved.

Posted by: Narizarielka | Sep 14, 2015 9:03:14 AM

The car has always been the sticking point for me. As corrupt as I believe these cops to be I find it hard they would sit on the evidence until a point where they could have Jay "lead them to it". It is possible Jay discovered the car during his normal routine but seems more plausible that he was involved and knew of its location prior to "taking the cops to it".

Posted by: Mike B | Sep 14, 2015 9:41:50 AM

Help with one of the dates.
Occurred 02/09/99 What is this date referring to? I assume it is a progress report date, but it occurs before Det. Macgillivary requested the helicopter support in locating the car 8 days later. Wouldn’t the progress report be produced on or after the 17th to capture what had transpired? Perhaps progress reports are due at set intervals and the notes for the 17th were added to fill out a required report?

Posted by: Greg | Sep 14, 2015 10:15:56 AM

Or, I suppose, they did know where it was as of 2/17 and were thinking creatively about how it might be "found". Surely a question expecting the answer "no" in any case - unless it's got distinguishing features like a big orange number on the roof, tricky to find the one car you're looking for in woodland and/or residential area from (what?) 1,000 feet up in the air? Not to mention the cost and who picks up the tab.

Posted by: WLJ | Sep 14, 2015 11:01:30 AM

Matt: Early on the morning of February 28th.

Narizarielka: Yes, that is the million dollar question.

Mike B: I really want the content of the 2/1 tip to assess things.

Greg: February 9th is the date on which Hae’s body was discovered.

WLJ: Yes, I imagine it would have been difficult to pick out from a helicopter.

Posted by: Colin | Sep 14, 2015 11:16:32 AM

Another thing to consider about the car is that MacGillivery seems to claim in an update memo written on 3/15 that Jenn told them where the car was on 2/27. Of course, it is confusingly-worded so like everything else it's inconclusive.

Posted by: carnotbrown | Sep 14, 2015 11:42:54 AM

Why wasn’t the car searched for from the day she went missing? Why did they wait so long? Did they go out & drive her routes that day? Most missing persons cases the car is found first, then the body but, not here! I think the whole ‘missing person’ investigation set up the way the murder investigation went, backwards. If they got detailed statements during the first days of when Hae went missing, then the homicide investigators would have clear accounts from people who saw her that day. Instead they interview the people 3/1 after they arrest Adnan?

Posted by: Sunny | Sep 14, 2015 11:54:16 AM

How does one search for a car by helicopter? Are they hoping to cover fields and other areas? Cop cars and even buses usually have ID on the roof because you can't see details from above.

Posted by: boo | Sep 14, 2015 12:21:23 PM

Might be a bit of politicking/making-a-point going on. The Baltimore police aviation unit was grounded in November 1998 because of a fatal helicopter crash, so the city police had to ask state police or county police for helicopters until the city police aviation service was funded again in 2001.

Posted by: WLJ | Sep 14, 2015 12:25:25 PM

It seems like finding an extremely common car like a Sentra would be tough and time consuming, and the cost of helicopter time quite high.

Posted by: francis | Sep 14, 2015 12:26:13 PM

It seems even more unlikely that Jay knew where the car was during questioning because surely the cops would want to ask Jay on the record and for him to offer up the location details while recording. Instead, the transcript reads, "Before during the interview prior to turning the tape on, you stated to Detective MacGillivary and myself that you'd be willing to take us out and show us where the vehicle's parked..... Can only imagine what was said and discussed in that pre-interview???

Posted by: Mike B | Sep 14, 2015 12:31:46 PM

One other question I had was whether anyone confirmed the trunk lock worked via the key? Jay testified that at the "trunk pop" Adnan used the key not the remote release. If the cops found the car I assume they did not have the key and would have been forced to use the release. Might have already been considered/answered but thought I would confirm.

Posted by: Mike B | Sep 14, 2015 12:39:37 PM

Requesting a state police helicopter would make sense if the Nissan Sentra had an activated LoJack system - searching for a LoJack signal, not a visual on the car.

Posted by: WLJ | Sep 14, 2015 1:11:46 PM

Hopefully this comment sticks. It has always seemed to me that Jay's confession did not align with the timeframe of them locating the car. The confession would be so much more credible if they had located the car earlier. I do not believe that Jay knew where the car was before they fed him the information. I have always been suspicious that they may have had the car earlier, but had not connected it to Hae and were embarrassed to be truthful about it.

Posted by: San | Sep 14, 2015 7:46:42 PM

I know this is a bit more "CSI" than common procedure but IF the police knew the vehicle's location (via tipster/ Jay / Jenn / etc) would they consider sitting on it in hopes of someone returning to it? I know it doesn't seem very likely given the risk of losing possible evidence.... But it doesn't seem as tho they were ever concerned with "real" evidence.

Posted by: CareBear | Sep 15, 2015 11:54:13 AM

I hate to take up another comment spot, but by "sitting on it" I am obviously referring to surveillance on the vehicle. When that doesn't pan out they can cover their bad investigation decision, give Jay more credibility, gain much needed access to the car, AND have more circumstantial evidence against Adnan by feeding Jay the info. It seems as tho it might answer a lot of lingering questions regarding Jay knowing Hae's car's location.

Posted by: CareBear | Sep 15, 2015 3:13:54 PM

Post a comment