EvidenceProf Blog

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Evidence That Hae Did Not End Up Giving Adnan a Ride on January 13th

In yesterday's bonus episode of the Undisclosed Podcast, I laid out my current best guess for what happened on January 13, 1999. My theory remains similar to the theory that I advanced on the day the final episode of Serial premiered, more than a year ago: (1) Adnan asked Hae for a ride on the morning of January 13th; (2) Hae initially agreed to give him a ride; and (3) something came up for Hae between lunch and the end of school that led to her not being able to give Adnan a ride. In this post, I will lay out all of the reasons we have for believing that Hae did not end up giving Adnan a ride on January 13th.

Becky, Aisha, and Krista

According to their statements and testimony, Becky, Aisha, and Krista exchanged calls on January 13, 1999 after learning that Hae had failed to pick up her cousin. As such, their memories of the events of the 13th seem more reliable than most. This was a big part of the reason why I firmly concluded over a year ago that Adnan asked Hae for a ride on January 13th; the request appears in the witness statements for both Krista and Becky.

This is also a big part of why I am convinced that Hae told Adnan she couldn't give him a ride at the end of the school day because something came up and she had "something else" to do: Krista told me that she discussed this occurrence with Aisha on the night of the 13th, and it appears in Becky's police statement, with Becky saying it happened as Adnan and Hae were walking in opposite directions.*

So, that is three reliable and objective witnesses, all stating that something came up for Hae on the 13th, meaning that she couldn't give Adnan a ride. Could all three be lying and/or mistaken? I suppose that anything is possible, but, if this were the case, it would call into question whether Adnan asked for a ride in the first place because these are the same witnesses supporting that fact. I think it's safe to assume that they are honest and accurate on both fronts.

That seemingly leaves two possibilities: (1) Hae was telling the truth; or (2) Hae was lying. In that latter scenario, you have to assume that (a) Hae decided between lunch and the end of school that she simply didn't want to give Adnan a ride; (b) she decided to lie to Adnan in front of her friends about the reason she couldn't give him a ride; and (c) rather than making up a lie about having to do something at school, she claimed the "something else" was somewhere else and headed to her car soon after school. Moreover, if you think that Adnan did get the ride from Hae under this scenario, you have to believe that (a) Adnan later convinced Hae to give him a ride despite her going to great lengths to lie about why she couldn't give him a ride; and (b) no one else saw/remembered this event in a crowded parking lot after school.

In the former possibility, we have the question of why no one has come forward in the last 17 years to say that they had plans with Hae on the afternoon of the 13th but that she never showed up. The way I see it, the answer is that this person is the person who killed Hae: the person Hae left school to see about 40 minutes earlier than her typical departure time of 3:00 P.M.

Inez Butler

At trial, Inez Butler was presented as the last person to see Hae alive. She said that she saw Hae leaving school in a hurry in the minutes after school on the 13th. Inez's memory is questionable because she ties her memory to a wrestling match that in all likelihood did not take place on January 13th. That said, Inez ran the concession stand and said that Hae stopped by on a daily basis to get snacks. Therefore, it is certainly possible that Inez did see Hae on January 13th and is simply combining events from different days. Her testimony would actually flow nicely with Becky's testimony as both tend to say that Hae was leaving school in a hurry in the minutes after school.

I mentioned the concession stand. As Krista showed in her sketch, it was located in a glass enclosure that looked out upon the bus loop where Hae would have parked before getting her snacks. In her police statement, Inez said that she saw Hae "jump out of her car" before running up to the concession stand. Inez, however, does not mention seeing Adnan in the car, and you can bet that the police and the prosecutors would have asked her about seeing him and included her response if she saw him. Therefore, in all likelihood, Inez did not see Adnan in Hae's car, which further supports the proposition that Adnan did not get a ride from Hae. It certainly contradicts the State's theory at trial that Adnan was actually driving Hae's car.

Asia McClain, Her Boyfriend, and His Friend

This one goes without saying. Asia says that she saw Adnan in the Woodlawn Public Library on the afternoon of the 13th. She says that she saw him until 2:40 P.M., and she contradicts the idea that Adnan got a ride from Hae if we believe that she saw Adnan at the library for even just a few minutes as long as we also believe that either Becky or Inez was the last innocent person to see Hae alive.** Moreover, according to Asia, they weren't alone: Her boyfriend and his friend saw the two of them together. That's all I will say about Asia for now. Everyone will get to see what she says during direct and cross-examination in about a month.


Debbie has always been the biggest question mark for me. I tend to think she has the wrong day, but I also think it's possible she's combining events from different days. Let's look at the various permutations. In her first police statement, Debbie says that Hae told her after school on January 13th that she was going to see Don. If we believe this statement, Don was presumably the "something else," and Hae did not give Adnan a ride.

Indeed, this is what Debbie herself thought. In her third police statement,*** Debbie says that she initially suspected that Hae was with Don and that he was responsible for her disappearance. She then says, however, that she had a seven hour phone conversation with Don, during which Don (1) convinced Debbie that he had nothing to do with Hae's disappearance; and (2) told Debbie that he figured Adnan had something to do with her disappearance.**** 

In her third statement, Debbie says that she saw Adnan at the guidance counselor's office at 2:45 P.M. on January 13th, which could be corroborated (or not) by the guidance counselor's testimony that she gave Adnan his recommendation later on the day. In this statement, Debbie again says that she talked to Hae but no longer says Hae was going to see Don. In this version, Debbie recalls "Takera" and no one else asking Hae for a ride, with Haw responding that she can't give anyone a ride because she's picking up her cousin.

Under this version, if Debbie is right about seeing Adnan and wrong about seeing Hae, Adnan didn't get a ride from Hae because he's at the guidance counselor's office after Hae has left school (as per Becky and/or Inez). If Debbie is right about seeing Hae, then Hae wasn't giving anyone a ride.

Coach Sye

At trial, Coach Sye testified that he had no way of knowing whether, on January 13th, Adnan was at practice, which started at approximately 4:00 P.M. That said, in his police interview, Coach Sye recalled Adnan being on time for practice on a day that only could have been January 13th, with Sye seemingly telling both the cops and the defense PI that practice started at 3:30 P.M. I will admit that this is far from a sure thing, but there is certainly a plausible argument that Adnan was at practice at 3:30 P.M. on January 13, 1999. And, if he was, the timing really doesn't work for Adnan to have gotten a ride from Hae and killed her. For one thing, it would completely rule out The Nisha Call.


That's nine witnesses, all of whom can be said to support the proposition that Adnan did not get a ride from Hae on January 13th. All of them can also be said to support the 9 point theory I laid out in a comment on yesterday's post:

(1) between 2:15 and 2:20 P.M., Hae said that she couldn’t give Adnan a ride because something came up and she had “something else” to do; (2) Hae left school before 2:40 P.M.; (3) Adnan saw Asia at the library and/or Debbie at the guidance counselor’s office until after Hae had left school; (4) Adnan went to track practice; (5) Jay picked Adnan up from track practice; (6) Adnan smoked a blunt; (7) they got food, they possibly went to Cathy’s place, and they drove around for a while so that Adnan could get rid of his high, with the cell phone being somewhere (outside Leakin Park) in the broad coverage range of L689B at 7:09 and 7:16 P.M. (or the phone was outside of the range of L689B, with the incoming pings not being reliable for determining location); (8) Adnan dropped Jay off at the mall or his house soon after 8:00 P.M.; and (9) Adnan went to the Mosque, where he prepared his prayers with Bilal for the next night.

As I also noted in that comment, 

There are only two pieces of evidence that possibly contradict this version of events: (1) the 3:32 P.M. call to Nisha; and (2) Jay. As for the call to Nisha, she says it occurred when Adnan was visiting Jay at his shop, and Jay’s first day of work at ANY job in 1999 was on January 25th. Therefore, (1) is really part of (2) because it is only Jay’s version of The Nisha Call which is incriminatory, and (1) Jay didn’t mention this call until his second interview, after being shown the call log; and (2) pretty much nobody believes Jay’s version of The Nisha Call (Forest Park golf course).

The Nisha Call isn't the only thing that Jay failed to mention in his first interview. In that interview, Jay says that he has no idea how Adnan got in Hae's car; he only knows that Adnan had Hae's car at the Best Buy. It isn't until after Krista's interview, in which she mentioned the ride request, that a very similar story becomes part of Jay's story in his second interview: Adnan told Jay before the murder that he would tell Hae his car was broken down so that he could get a ride and kill her.

So, was Jay simply parroting what Krista said, with no actual knowledge that Adnan got a ride from Hae? On Serial, Chris said that Jay told him a version of the murder where there was no ride, or at least no ride away from Woodlawn. According to Chris, Jay said the murder took place in the library parking lot. In Episode 12, Jay's co-worker Josh remembered a similar story. More recently, Neighbor Boy told Bob Ruff a version of the story where Jay claimed Adnan came to Hae's workplace and killed her, which would also mean that there was no ride. In between, Jay gave an interview to The Intercept, in which he said that (1) Adnan did not tell Jay ahead of time that he was going to kill Hae; (2) he did not see Hae's car in the Best Buy parking lot; and (3) he now believes the murder didn't take place at Best Buy. The ride story is gone. In other words, there are several witnesses who say that Adnan could not or did not get a ride from Hae and no one other than Jay who says that he did get a ride, but only in some versions of his story.

After all this time and everything considered in this case, that's what everything comes down to in the end: Jay. His story is the only piece of evidence that contradicts an "innocent Adnan" version of events like the one laid out above. As I noted yesterday,

Any other piece of evidence about the afterschool events of January 13th is only relevant as it relates to Jay’s various versions of events. The (un)broken windshield wiper lever is only relevant if we believe Jay’s story that Adnan told him Hae kicked it while he was strangling her. The lividity evidence is only relevant to contradict Jay’s claims about Hae being “pretzeled up” in the trunk for 4-5 hour and buried in the 7:00 P.M. hour. And so on and so forth.

So, basically, if you think Adnan is guilty, you accept that Jay has lied about several things, been mistaken about several others, and changed his story based upon being given new information (e.g., shifting McDonald's to Cathy's). You know that he was told by police that he would be charged with murder if he didn't point the finger at Adnan, you know that his pro bono attorney thought he would be subject to the death penalty in Baltimore County if he didn't play ball, and you know that he would have received no prison time and an expunged conviction if he stayed out of trouble for two years or less. And yet, despite all this, you believe the spine of Jay's story, which is nothing more and nothing less than that Adnan killed Hae. Meanwhile, if you think that Adnan is innocent, you think that everything listed above and other possibilities, such as Jay being the CrimeStoppers tipster, makes it so that you can't trust anything Jay says, including his core allegation that Adnan killed Hae.


*In Becky's trial testimony, she mentions Hae heading to the door that led to her car right after school because she had somewhere else to be and does not mention Adnan being present. I don't know whether this was an oversight by Becky or a failure by Gutierrez to ask the right question. If it was an intentional choice by Becky, it's possible that Hae told Becky and/or Aisha that something had come up but failed to communicate this fact to Adnan. In this alternate scenario, we would have a pretty good explanation for why Adnan told Adcock on the night of the 13th that he didn't get a ride from Hae because he figured she got tired of waiting and left.

**Both say Hae left school in a hurry in the minutes after school ended.

***The notes/transcript of Debbie's second police interview are missing.

****I find this statement interesting. Don testified at trial to their interaction being cordial and said the same to Sarah during Serial. Debbie also told the police that she had no awareness of Adnan asking Hae for a ride on January 13th. So, why did Don tell Debbie that he figured Adnan had something to do with her disappearance?



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I'm on board with your theory. One clarifying question from the bonus episode. When Susan says that phone records show other calls to Jay's drug friends during Wednesday track, does that mean in the few Wednesdays between 1/13 and Adnan's arrest? Just trying to understand the evidence. If not, what records is she referring to? Very interesting addition to the case and helps certain things make a lot more sense. Thanks!

Posted by: Sassy | Jan 5, 2016 10:00:43 AM

On Wednesday, January 27th and Wednesday, February 3rd, there are calls during track practice from Adnan's cell phone to the person whom Jay called seeking drugs on Wednesday, January 13th (January 20th was an exam day, so it's unclear whether there was practice that day).

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 10:12:39 AM

This something else that is supposed to have come up seems to me an excuse from getting out of giving a ride to a pestering ex-boyfriend. Do you have any concrete evidence that something else really came up.

Posted by: S | Jan 5, 2016 10:21:35 AM

S: It’s certainly possible that Hae was lying about having “something else” to do, as I note in my post. But, as I also note, this would seem to make it even less likely that Adnan was (a) later able to convince Hae to give him a ride (b) without anyone else seeing/remembering that this took place.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 10:48:23 AM

Regarding the "Nisha Call": there doesn't seem to be a day that "works" for this call that coincides with Jay working at the porn shop. However, looking at his F&M work schedule, it looks like the call could have been made on February 1, if it's possible Nisha is mistaken about the type of shop she recalled Jay working at. Looking at the call records, the call on 2/1 would have been just as Jay was ending work (which would make sense if Adnan was picking him up). The next call was to Steph, which could have been Jay calling his gf right after Adnan called Nisha.

Did Nisha ever specifically say the call was made from the porn shop? Is it possible this was suggested to her?

Posted by: NishaMcNisha | Jan 5, 2016 10:54:20 AM

NishaMcNisha: Yes, this is an intriguing theory. Nisha does mention the adult video store at trial, but it’s possible that Adnan told her during the call that he was visiting Jay at work and told her at another point in time that Jay worked at an adult video store (or maybe the cops told Nisha this). It’s a short call, which is consistent with Nisha’s testimony. There’s no subsequent call that day, and there is a call the next day, which is consistent with her police statement. It is toward the evening, which is consistent with her trial testimony. The cell tower pinged is consistent with a call from F&M, and, as you note, the next call is to Stephanie. So, it’s certainly possible that this was The Nisha Call, with Adnan visiting Jay at F&M, followed by Jay or Adnan calling Stephanie.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 11:09:09 AM

Didn't Hae's friends say she was quiet at lunch? I think she and Don argued the night before (possibly about Adnan giving her his new phone number), it was bothering her and she had to talk it out with Don as soon as she left school.

Posted by: JoAnn | Jan 5, 2016 11:54:39 AM

Nisha call: Nisha said that the only call from Adnan in which he put Jay on the phone was a couple of days after he got his cell phone. The phone was purchased Jan. 11

I don't think the video store reference is reliable, because Jay and Adnan also told "Cathy" on the same day 1/3 that they had been to the video store. Why they said this is possibly an attempt at building an alibi.

We know Cathy had the correct day 1/13 that Adnan and Jay were at her house acting strangely, (Jay and Jen were there later that night also acting strangely), because it was Stephanie's birthday on that date and Jay was talking about it.

Posted by: Badger | Jan 5, 2016 11:55:05 AM

I for one still think Don needs to be investigated more.
7 hour phone call....sorry, who talks for 7 hours.
Just my gut feeling but I say, check into Don.

Posted by: NavyMomo | Jan 5, 2016 12:03:22 PM

Thanks Colin! Exactly the clarity I was looking for. Great work. Looking forward to details about the next hearing and Asia's testimony, especially in regards to Urick.

Posted by: Sassy | Jan 5, 2016 12:11:37 PM

EP, do you think we can get Hae's pager records to see who paged her?

Posted by: Sisyphus | Jan 5, 2016 12:14:42 PM

JoAnn and NavyMom: I’m inclined to believe that Don was not involved, but I’m hoping that Debbie agrees to talk at some point because there are a lot of questions regarding her statements/testimony and interactions with Don.

Badger: At trial #1, Nisha says that the call was at some point in January. At trial #2, she says it could have been at any point before Adnan got arrested. There are (misdated?) notes from one of Nisha’s police interviews preceded by a double asterisk that could indicate that (1) Nisha thought the call was in the days after Adnan got his cell phone; (2) Nisha thought it was possible the call was in the days after Adnan got his cell phone; (3) the detective thought/hoped the call was in the days after Adnan got his cell phone; or (4) something else. Without a transcription, it is impossible to tell exactly what was asked and answered. What we do know is that Nisha’s trial testimony tends to rebut the idea that (1) is correct, as does her consistent statement that Adnan was visiting Jay at his shop at the time of the call, with Jay not working at any job in 1999 until 1/25.

Also, Cathy did not say that Jay told her they had been to a video store on 1/13. She said that Jay told her they were going to go to a movie store and then meet up with Stephanie, prompting Cathy to wonder who was coming to pick them up. So, this does not match up with Adnan having already visited Jay at a video store at 3:32 P.M. The alibi theory also requires Adnan and/or Jay to come up with the story about Adnan visiting Jay at a job he wouldn’t start until 2+ weeks later. And then, there’s the fact that Adnan never mentions this alibi before or after he’s arrested.

Sassy: Thanks.

Sisyphus: Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem possible now.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 12:27:13 PM

During the bonus episode you stated your theory about why Adnan was letting Jay borrow the car. If there was some sort of deception going on to cover up for some sort of drug activity why wouldn't Adnan just come clean about that now? Surely after 15 years there wouldn't be consequences? What reasons could he have to not come completely clean about it?

Posted by: Sarah | Jan 5, 2016 12:32:24 PM

Sarah: There’s a pretty big danger with switching your story years later. People might believe your new version or think that it calls into question the veracity of everything you’ve ever said. For example, look at Jay with his Intercept interview. It seems plausible to me that there was some deception with the ride request and that Adnan doesn’t want to admit to that deception for fear of looking worse. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that Adnan was legitimately asking for a ride on 1/13 such as a ride to track practice and is either (1) mistaken like so many other witnesses in this case and every case; or (2) not considering a “ride” across campus to track practice to be a ride.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 12:38:24 PM

Thanks Prof,

Why would Cathy wonder who was going to pick them up when they had Adnan's car sitting outside, I wonder. How did she think they got to her apartment? Odd.

I don't give a whole lot of weight to the video store story. As I said, it may have been an attempt at an alibi, but after Jay spoke to police, there was no alibi Adnan could use that involved Jay.

Posted by: Badger | Jan 5, 2016 1:04:23 PM

Badger: I don't know what to make of Cathy. For instance, she is 5'8" and says that the person who came to her place with Jay was 5'7" when Adnan is actually 6'0". And, as you say, why would she think someone was picking them up if they drove there? Did Jay say someone was picking them up? Her whole interview/testimony is so confusing, which is why I think she's confabulating different events.

Also, Adnan told the police at least as early as 1/25 that he went to track practice after school, rather than mentioning a trip with Jay to a video store in between. I just really don't see how this could have been an attempted alibi.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 5, 2016 1:12:40 PM

There is another person (now deceased) known to Jay who looked a lot like Adnan, but was much shorter, something close to 5'7". It seems obvious to me that Cathy remembers a time Jay came to her apartment with this person, not Adnan.

Posted by: James Madison Bumgarner | Jan 5, 2016 8:42:41 PM

Hey Colin, in the bonus ep when you said possibly a former (graduated) Woodlawn student involved in Hae's death, do you have anyone specific in mind!?

Posted by: Trae | Jan 5, 2016 9:42:47 PM

Do you have any views/leads on who the "someone" who paged Hae is, or is that simply unknowable after all this time?

Posted by: Alex | Jan 6, 2016 1:53:02 AM

Thank you Colin. The fact that Hae's pager was also never found would add to your theory about someone (the murderer) contacting her in the early afternoon and that they didn't want to be identified.

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Jan 6, 2016 1:58:01 AM

Fascinating podcast – came to it over last couple of months having listened to Serial when it was originally released.

I have looked at this in a different way – more as trying to understand how things came to pass.

To me, the critical factor in explaining the course of events is the “I’m going to kill” note. This suggests to me that the Crimestoppers call may have been from whoever knew about that note. This seems the most plausible way for the heretofore inexplicable decision by the police to focus so intently on Adnan, as the content of the note also provided a motive.

Perhaps it also prompted the contact between the BPD and the teacher at Woodlawn who knew Adnan and Hae, and who conducted a few enquiries of her own.

On the other hand, I’m not sure when the note was actually retrieved by the police.

As far as Jay is concerned, I think your explanation of his actions went a little off the rails once you had fingered him for the first Crimestoppers call with the money for the motorbike motive. To me, that pathway never made much sense, particularly as you later changed the motive to dodging the death penalty.

A more plausible explanation to me would be Jay was facing charges over his arrest in late January, the police from some time after Feb 1 had Adnan as their main suspect over Hae, and they at some point discovered Jay was with Adnan on the day Hae disappeared. They therefore had the leverage over Jay to start offering deals.

Things moved from there – maybe Jay fully expected Adnan at any point to refute what he had told the police, but it appears he never satisfactorily did, and neither did Gutierrez, so Jay’s story flew. I think the cell tower evidence, now known to be unreliable, may well have looked quite damning to all who heard it at the time, particularly as there was no alternative timeline to present because Adnan could not provide one. This may have led his defenders down different paths to try and discredit Jay’s story that didn’t really have the same power. I also suspect the Asia McClain business may have been overlooked because the defence confused her with Aisha.

As far as Gutierrez is concerned, her actions may be partially explained by that, but the rest of her contribution to the case doesn’t seem particularly difficult to explain. She was clearly unwell, and her practice appeared to be disintegrating during 1999. She appeared to rely heavily on her right hand man who left in June 1999, and she possibly couldn’t afford to hire a replacement. She was taking numerous cases to try to sustain what remained of her practice, but couldn’t pay for the backup she needed to get the job done in each case. Plus she was battling MS and diabetes. I have no idea how she managed to get anything done at all, or what state she must have been in.

So that’s why I think things happened as they did. More was needed from the defence, but more was needed from Adnan too. Do I think the evidence that convicted him is unsound? Yes. Do I think he did it? I don’t know.

Posted by: Greencourt | Jan 6, 2016 4:08:45 AM

James: Who is that?

Trae: No one specific. At this point, I don’t know of any particular recent Woodlawn grads with whom Hae was friendly.

Alex: It’s unknowable. For a high school senior, the best bets would seem to be classmates, recent grads, co-workers, and neighborhood friends.

Dawn Johnson: Exactly.

Greencourt: The note was confiscated by Adnan’s teacher, who happened to be married to one of the BPD detectives. I don’t know when exactly it was turned over to the police.

I wouldn’t say that I (we) changed the motive. As I said in a comment to my prior post, I think this was the carrot and/or the stick. Maybe Jay was threatened by the cops unless he pointed the finger at Adnan and was also enticed by the CrimeStoppers reward. Or maybe Jay sought the reward and ended up implicating Adnan and himself. Or maybe he wasn’t the tipster. If he’s not the tipster, though, I still don’t know who would be entitled to the full reward in this case.

Posted by: Colin Miller | Jan 6, 2016 6:54:51 AM

Has anyone explained the condition of Hae's car - clean wheels etc despite being outside - how does that fit in?

Posted by: Chris | Jan 6, 2016 6:55:14 AM

Colin why are you inclined to discount Dons involvement? What's the reasoning behind this semi-conclusion. I tend to agree but curious as to your rationale. Also, why was Jay so afraid of the white van? That's an unaddressed piece from Serial that has always seemed like a real clue to me

Posted by: Nancy Andrews | Jan 6, 2016 7:35:02 AM

Colin - thanks for all your work on this case and for your blogging and podcasting. I am enjoying it. I have a question. Have you and/or Susan spoken to any of the jurors that rendered the guilty verdict in this case? I wonder a lot if any have followed this case with the growing media attention and popularity and how they might feel now seeing all these discrepancies and inconsistencies. Thanks!

EP NOTE: This is the 25th and final comment that will appear on this post.

Chris: It’s still a mystery.

Nancy: I tend to think that Debbie has the wrong day, and she’s the one who said Hae was going to see Don. That’s why I want to talk to Debbie.

Mitzi: If they were to reach out to us, I’d be happy to talk, but I don’t want to pester them.

Posted by: Mitzi | Jan 6, 2016 7:44:41 AM

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