Step into the shoes of ‘Serial’ podcast’s, Sarah Koenig, by taking yourself on a self-guided driving tour through Baltimore, MD, and see if YOU think the timeline against Adnan stands up.

Serial logo and podcast: https://serialpodcast.org/

Why are we so obsessed with crime!? And the more dramatic the better, right? Settle in, because we’re talking about a two of our favourite things – podcasts and true crime stories! Specifically, let’s look at Serial, the Godfather of true crime podcasts.

We’re big fans of Serial here at Story City and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should. Sarah Koenig is such a skilled storyteller, and the listener gets to discover new details as she discovers them. Sarah investigates true crime stories from beginning to end, with all of the minute details of each case. It’s not like so many other true crime dramas where the bad guy is obvious from the beginning. Sarah uncovers so many discrepancies and asks all the questions no one else seems to be asking. And all of it calls into question whether the accused is actually guilty.

Journalist Sarah Koenig, of “This American LIfe” and “Serial” podcast, gives a talk in March 2015.

Launched in 2014, there are 3 seasons – each as awesome as the last. Season one captivated audiences around the world. It was a deep dive into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend, was accused and convicted of her murder. Serial went through. Every. Single. Detail. of the investigation and uncovered how badly the case was handled. Sarah did such a great job Adnan was even granted a new trial in 2016 (although the highest court in Maryland stopped it from proceeding in 2019).

If you love true crime – and a good mystery – as much as we do, it’s time to test out your investigative chops. We were so curious about Adnan’s supposed timeline, we actually mapped out the locations and episode time stamps from season one so we (I mean… ah, you!) can follow Sarah’s steps as she investigates Adnan’s case.

Are you ready to take yourself on a 120-minute self-guided driving tour of Adnan’s alleged whereabouts in and around Baltimore, MD from season one!? If you’re not local, it’s time for a road trip.

What You Will Need

  • Pre-downloaded Episode 5, Route Talk, from Serial Season One here
  • Google Maps: we give you the pin drop for each location – just click on the link when you are headed there, or if you’re checking this out online, you can see all the locations in one map here
  • A car
  • A sense of adventure!

Let’s get started!

Location 1: Woodlawn High School

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:00:31 – 00:06:07

A normal school in a normal town on a normal day. Woodlawn High School will forever be linked to the murder of Hae Min Lee. Adnan Syed maintains his innocence and we are introduced to questionable evidence against him right from the start. The prosecution’s case was made on the assumption that Adnan could get out of school at 2:15 with over a thousand other students, drive to the location of Hae’s murder about a mile from the high school in the Best Buy parking lot, murder her, move her body, and call Jay (the prosecution’s star witness) in under 21 minutes. Oh, and this was all in broad daylight.

Sarah and producer Dana tried to time themselves and it just doesn’t seem possible. Ready to time yourself and move to location 2?

Location 2: (former) Best Buy

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:05:50 – 00:15:23

Notes: The Best Buy no longer exists. In its place? An Extra Space Storage!

In a secluded part of the parking lot on the far side of the building. Jay said that’s where Adnan took him to where Hae’s body was. It also happened to be where Adnan spent time hanging out with friends after Hae’s murder – because “nobody’s going to be over there.” Jay said he met Adnan at the pay phone outside in front of the building before he took him around to Hae’s body. If you don’t see a payphone there now, it’s not surprising. Pay phones aren’t around much anymore, but – there is also no record of there ever being a pay phone in front of that store (check out the architectural plans the Serial team posted here).

The prosecution says that after he murdered Hae, Adnan made a call from that pay phone to his own cell phone, which was in Jay’s possession, asking Jay to come get him. The call was five seconds long. At 2:36.

Do you think it would have taken longer than 21 minutes?

Jay claimed that he and Adnan then left Hae’s car for a few hours at the I-70 Park and Ride. It’s 2:51, let’s go.

Location 3: 1-70 Park and Ride

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:15:03 – 00:16:45

If you were going to murder someone and put them in their trunk, you would want to stash the car somewhere inconspicuous, right? How about a public commuter lot? Jay maintains that Adnan parked the car and then proceeded to get a bunch of things from the trunk of her car – where Hae’s body was – before getting in his own car with Jay and heading out. All of this shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Jay calls his friend, Patrick, and they head to Forest Park.

Location 4: Forest Park Golf Course

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:16:45 – 00:19:38

The timeline now starts to show major inconsistencies in Jay’s accounts. The call log shows he made a call to Patrick – at 3:59. Much later than the timeline would suggest. There are a number of calls made during this time. In spite of the fact that Jay says they were at Forest Park, the cell tower data doesn’t match the location – a detail Adnan’s defense attorney doesn’t really focus on.

It’s time for a hike! Head over to the next location.

Location 5: The Cliffs at Petapsco Valley State Park

Location: Google Map Pin Drop for parking area for The Cliffs hike. Pin for the Cliffs themselves.

Episode Timestamp: 00:19:24 – 00:24:26

Notes: We’re sending you to the start of the hiking trail that Dana and Sarah take, but have also noted the cliff’s themselves for curiosity sake!

Adnan has track practice at 4 PM. If we are going by Jay’s account, it’s between 3:45 and 3:50 and they have decided to go for a hike. Jay says they arrive around 4:30 PM and Adnan tells him all of the details about Hae’s murder.

Just kidding… By the time the trial hits, Jay doesn’t say anything about this location. Apparently, now he says all of this discussion happens in Adnan’s car.

Let’s say that his original interview stands… Next, Jay says they head back to the school for Adnan’s track practice… that started at 4 PM. Meet you there!

Location 6: Woodlawn High School

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:24:27 – 00:28:14, then we suggest skipping to 00:30:38 – 00:30:47, and then skipping again to 00:32:57 – 00:34:28 to try and keep on time!

Back at school for track practice and we learn that missing or being late for track practice is a big deal. Punishment means running extra laps the next day. Witness testimony puts Adnan at practice, but the coach can’t say for sure if he was there – only that it was pretty normal for Jay to drop off and pick up Adnan from practice.

By now, there are so many questions surrounding Jay’s account, Adnan’s account, and the cell phone data. But we’ll keep going on to the next location where Hae’s body was discovered.

Location 7: Leakin Park

Location: Google Map Pin Drop

Episode Timestamp: 00:34:29 – 00:38:26

Notes: Based on many a Serial officianado’s research, we believe this is close to where Hae’s body was found.

Cell data clearly puts Adnan’s phone in Leakin Park around 7 PM. Adnan’s memory of the day is vague. Jay’s testimony has so many inconsistencies and does not match the cell data. But this is where Hae’s body was buried and someone had to put it there.

Do you think Adnan did it? Does the timing and detail match up?

If this is your first dive into Serial, you should definitely listen to the whole of Season 1 (plus the other two!) here.

Ready for more? Story City helps bring your favourite podcasts and other storytelling content to life by literally allowing you to walk these stories in the real world. Just download the  Story City app to find more adventures near you!

Are You a Podcast Creator? Here’s a New Way to Monetize Your Podcasts….

If you are a content creator, you can even create your own interactive experiences from your content like what we did here with Serial today, and sell it on the Story City platform as an extra way to monetise!

Except with the Story City app, unlike a blog, each new location automatically unlocks when you reach the right spot – all you have to do as a creator is set up the journey using our simple creator tools! It’s a great way to bring your content to life as a storyteller or podcast creator, and allow your audience to literally walk (or drive!) your stories in the real world.

Sign up for the creator waitlist for our exclusive beta launch to try it out! There are limited spots available! http://about.storycity.app/itstime