Monday, March 11, 2019
Yesterday was the premiere of the first episode of "The Case Against Adnan Syed" on HBO. We also just dropped our first Undisclosed episode on the series (and will release additional episodes the day after each successive episode premieres). One big topic of discussion on the podcast was the appearance of Detective Darryl Massey on the HBO series. So, what was Detective Massey's role in the case, and why was what he said last night so important?
Detective Massey was not one of the lead detectives on Adnan's case; the lead detectives were Detective Rtiz and Detective MacGillivary. Ostensibly, Detective Massey had only one major role in Adnan's case, and that was (allegedly) receiving two anonymous phone calls on February 12, 1999, three days after Hae's body was discovered. Here is Detective Massey's memo on those calls:
Now, if you believe what Detective Massey said on the HBO series last night, these calls were huge; they explained why the police honed in on Adnan and did not focus on other possible alternate suspects such as Mr. S and Don.
But do I believe what Detective Massey had to say? One of my big questions back in 2015 was what Detective Massey meant by the word "Asian" in his memo. Could he have meant "South Asian," covering countries such as Pakistan, meaning that the caller could have come from Adnan's Mosque?
Well, as Detective Massey made clear last night, by "Asian," he meant Korean. But how does that make any sense? The caller allegedly referenced what Adnan said to "Baser Ali A/M/17," a clear reference to Adnan's friend and Mosque-mate Yasser Ali. But what person with Korean (or at least East Asian) roots knew both Adnan and Yasser and would have known what Adnan allegedly told Yasser?
It wouldn't make sense for this to be anyone in Hae's family because we know that Adnan and even Hae's friends never went to Hae's house. As far as we know, there weren't any people with Korean roots at Adnan's Mosque and Adnan didn't have any acquaintances at school (other than Hae) with Korean roots. So, there seem to be real reasons to question the credibility of Massey's memo.
What makes that memo even more suspicious is what happened at trial. Adnan's trial counsel clearly had questions about this memo and repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) tried to track down Detective Massey to get him on the witness stand:
And then, there's the fact that Detective Massey has been involved in various scandals that have led to various convictions being thrown out (see, e.g., this article).
So, if Massey's memo is a fabrication, why does it exist? One theory is that it was used as a basis to get Adnan's cell phone records. Another is that it was an attempt to cover for the fact that there was a CrimeStoppers tip made on around February 1, 1999. We have confirmation from a member of Metro CrimeStoppers that there was indeed a tip in the Hae Min Lee case made on or around February 1, 1999 with the tipster subsequently being paid on November 1, 1999:
Excerpt from the e-mail from the Metro CrimeStoppers memo
This information was never disclosed to the defense, and I've long maintained that if we had information about this tip we could solve this case.
It will be interesting to see whether we hear more from Detective Massey in this series and to see whether we ever get an answer to the CrimeStoppers mystery that has lingered for years.