Jay Wilds From “Serial” Gives First Interview To The Intercept


Jay Wilds, the mysterious essential witness in the prosecution’s case against Adnan Syed in 1999, which was the subject of the first season of the “Serial” podcast, has given his first interview to The Intercept! I AM HAVING ALL SORTS OF FEELS THAT I AM JUST GOING TO VOMIT HERE. Okay, so, in this first part of what is going to be a multi-part interview (!!!!!!), Wilds clarifies just how friendly he was with Syed — “There was never a real friendship. I only smoked with him two or three times” — what he remembers about Hae Min Lee (Syed’s ex-girlfriend, whom Syed was convicted of killing, though he maintains his innocence), and why on Earth he assisted Syed in burying Lee’s body. Given that Wilds did not agree to participate in the “Serial” podcast, and listeners’ impressions of him are largely based on audio from his police interviews, court testimony and other people’s descriptions, this interview is of course quite illuminating … but it’s also confusing as fuck.

For starters, it’s important to note that after 12 episodes of “Serial” which, whether you buy it or not, leaned heavily in Syed’s favor, Wilds has a lot of … convincing to do. Mostly that his story, whatever it is, should be believed. By all accounts, Jay’s version of what happened the day Hae Min Lee disappeared (and is believed to have died) changed multiple times during the case, and Sarah Koenig’s “Serial” investigation seriously called into question the prosecution’s timeline for that day. Well, 15 years later and Wilds’ story is still changing. He claims that Adnan showed him Hae’s body in the back of Hae’s car after Syed drove the car to Wilds’ grandmother’s house, which is not what Jay told investigators. “I didn’t tell the cops it was in front of my house because I didn’t want to involve my grandmother,” Wilds told The Intercept.

According to Wilds, he was selling enough weed out of his grandmother’s house at the time that he was genuinely worried about going to jail, and his grandmother also getting in trouble, if the police were to find out. In fact, Wilds says both his fear of going to jail for selling drugs and loyalty to those in his inner circle is what motivated him to tell the police so many little lies and half truths as they were investigating the crime:

[U]ntil they told me they weren’t trying to prosecute me for selling weed, or trying to get any of my friends in trouble. People had lives and were trying to get into college and stuff like that. Getting them in trouble for anything that they knew or that I had told them — I couldn’t have that.

I guess I was being kind of a jury on whether or not people needed to be involved or whatever, but these people didn’t have anything to do with it, and I knew they didn’t have anything to do with it.

Hmm. Wilds uses the same rational for why he helped Syed bury Lee in the first place:

At the time I was convinced that I would be going to jail for a long time if he turned me in for drug dealing, especially to high school kids. I was also running [drug] operations from my grandmother’s house. So that would ruin her life too. I was also around a bunch of people earlier the day [at Cathy’s], and I didn’t want them to get fucked up with homicide. So I said, ‘Look man, I’m not touching [Hae]. You’re in this on your own. I’m being manipulated into what’s being done right now.’

There are more inconsistencies as well. While Wilds’ earlier interviews and testimony attested that Syed planned to murder Lee and had been discussing it for a week prior, but in his interview with The Intercept, Wilds seems to be backtracking a bit on that bit, saying that Adnan might not have been serious when he was talking about killing her initially. Wilds also says that he and Syed only hung out a few times to smoke and barely knew each other, but in this interview alone, Wilds refers to that many specific instances of hanging out with Syed during just that week. And while he says he doesn’t want to try and speculate on Syed’s motives for killed Lee, he does just that, referring to Adnan feeling like “a loser” because Lee had a new boyfriend shortly after they broke up. Something about it just feels off to me. But again, this is just the first in a multi-part interview, so maybe Wilds’ story will get clearer as the rest of the interview is published. [The Intercept]

[Photo via The Intercept]