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Jay From ‘Serial’ Talks Anonymous Tip, Says Sarah Koenig ‘Demonized Me’

“Anything that makes Adnan innocent doesn’t involve me,” says key witness in first public interview

Serial

Serial

WBEZ Chicago

In part two of his first public interview since the conclusion of the hit podcast “Serial,” Jay Wilds, the state’s key witness in the case against Adnan Syed, said he believes a “spiritual leader” at Syed’s mosque anonymously tipped the police off to Syed’s involvement in the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999.

Speaking with The Intercept, Wilds said his assumption was based off a grand jury hearing, during which a man referred to as Mr. B was called to testify. Mr. B spoke with detectives during the investigation, according to Wilds, but when he was called to the stand, he pleaded the fifth amendment. 

“So that whatever he knew about Adnan, he knew that if he said it in court he could also be in trouble,” Wilds said. “I believe that Mr. B. had some information that we don’t have, possibly because he was a religious leader at the mosque, and Adnan talked to him like a priest taking a confession. I believe it’s possible that he’s the person who made the anonymous call to the police saying to check into Adnan.”

While The Intercept was unable to confirm Mr. B’s position or role at the mosque, they did confirm with two sources that he pleaded the fifth during the grand jury testimony.

This information comes on the heels of Wilds’ revelation in part one that Syed showed him Lee’s body not in the Best Buy parking lot, like he told police, but outside of his grandmother’s house. Such inconsistencies, which marked Wilds’ initial interviews with detectives and subsequent testimony, were a crucial part of “Serial” host Sarah Koenig’s dismantling of the state’s case against Syed. But, now, Wilds explains that at the time he stonewalled and misled police out of a desire to protect himself (he was selling weed at the time) and any friends or family who could possibly be implicated in the murder.

That desire to protect those close to him has returned in the wake of the show’s success. “My wife knows about my involvement in this case,” Wilds said. “Because I eventually cooperated with the police and testified, I know that there are people back home who would consider me a snitch and would hurt me. So, for the most part, we’ve been really protective about our privacy.”

Wilds also recalled his tense meeting with Koenig and “Serial” co-producer Julie Snyder, who showed up at his home unannounced in late August or early September. Wilds never spoke on the record for the podcast, and the events of this meeting were only rehashed by Snyder and Koenig afterwards in episode eight. But like the two producers’ on-tape reactions, Wilds recalled a tense meeting, during which he claims Koenig said there was new evidence in the case — though he told her that nothing would change what he saw.

“[T]his guy drove up in front of my grandmother’s house, popped the trunk, and had his dead girlfriend in the trunk,” said Wilds. “Anything that’s going to make [Syed] innocent doesn’t involve me. Hae was dead before she got to my house. There is a specific point where I became involved in this. What happened before that, I don’t know.”

Wilds also called out Koenig, saying she “demonized him,” and added that he felt if he had talked to her, “it would have given her twice as much ammo to twist my words.” Wilds made his decision to not be interviewed on “Serial” despite an e-mail from Koenig, in which she insisted, “I think in the end, you’ll feel better with the end result if you’re an active voice in the story — rather than someone who’s being talked about, you get to do the talking.” (The whole e-mail is included in the interview as well.)

The final part of The Intercept‘s interview with Wilds is scheduled to go up Wednesday, focusing on the repercussions the show’s massive success has had on Wilds’ life.

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