September 21, 2022
On January 13, 1999, Hae Min Lee — who was typically responsible — did not show up to pick up her cousin from daycare. Her family was worried and called the police. Less than a month later, a maintenance worker discovered Hae Min’s body in Leakin Park. Someone had strangled her with their hands, and she had been dead for weeks.
“She was Korean. She was smart and beautiful, and cheerful, and a great athlete,” said Sarah Koenig, the narrator Serial, the viral 2014 podcast investigating the murder. Only a few weeks after finding the body, police arrested 17-year-old Adnan Masud Syed and charged him with the murder, kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment of Hae Min Lee, his ex-girlfriend. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. On Monday, September 19, 2022, Syed left prison after spending over 23 years behind bars. A Baltimore judge had vacated Syed’s conviction, saying that the prosecutor’s evidence was lacking and ignored two key suspects. To this day, stalwart camps argue vehemently for either side about Syed’s complicity in Hae Min’s murder. But perhaps that’s not really the point. Syed leaving prison isn’t a cause for celebration. If he is innocent, he’s lost over half of his life. And if he’s guilty, the Lee family has failed to receive justice.