Thursday, December 25, 2014

Another murder suspect is named by Innocence Project 15 years after victim's ex-boyfriend was locked up for her death

The University of Virginia's Innocence Project has identified another suspect who they say could be linked to the death of Hae Min Lee, whose murder was the focus of the hit podcast series 'Serial'.

Ronald Lee Moore, who was released from prison 10 days before Lee vanished in January 1999, could have been responsible for her death, they say, and they are now hoping to test physical evidence in the case against his DNA. He killed himself in 2012.

Lee's body was found in a Baltimore park just weeks after she broke up with her boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was ultimately convicted of murder and is now serving life in prison for the death.

Syed, then 17, has always insisted that he was over their break up and did not murder her, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. But a friend, identified on the podcast as 'Jay', claims Syed told him he had murdered her and helped him bury her body.

His story and the investigation around Lee's murder were the subject of the highly-popular podcast series, Serial, and in the final episode, UVA's Innocence Project suggested other suspects.

In an interview with TIME, Deirdre Enright, the head of the Innocence Project at UVA, suggested that Moore could have had a part in her death.

Moore, who committed suicide while in prison in 2012, aged 40, was identified as a suspect in a 1999 rape and a 1999 cold case rape-murder when his DNA later matched the crimes.

In one case reported in the L'Observateur at the time of his suicide, police said a DNA match in 2006 connected him to a sexual assault in which he broke into a woman's apartment, shocked her with a cattle prod, and forced her to perform sex acts on him.

Earlier this year, the Baltimore Sun reported that another DNA match connected him to a 1999 murder, in which he broke into 27-year-old Annelise Hyang Suk Lee's apartment and strangled her.

He was arrested for burglary in December 2011 - and was listed as one of America’s Most Wanted Fugitives at the time. He ultimately took his life in 2012.

Enright believes he could have had something to do with Lee's murder in January 1999.

'In some ways, he was ideal because he had been released from prison and fit the timeframe for Hae's murder because he had been out for 10 days when she was murdered,' she told TIME.

But Enright said she and her team are also pursuing other theories and looking into other potential suspects - who cannot be named because they are still alive - while they wait for the courts to test the evidence, which could take months.

Enright admitted there were some problems with Moore as a suspect, including that he had been tied to sexual assaults but Lee was apparently not sexually assaulted. However, Enright said that she knows a rape kit was carried out on Lee's body - and that it was not tested.

'What we know is that Hae had her clothes on, although I know her shirt and bra had been moved up,' Enright told TIME.

'And her skirt was on but pushed up... There were hairs on her body, two of which were microscopically compared to Adnan, and he was excluded and they didn't belong to her either.'

If it comes back as a match with Moore's DNA, it should show Adnan is not guilty, she said.

Alternatively, it could match someone else who's already locked up, or it could belong to someone not known to the authorities - but that, too, should clear Syed of her murder, she said.

'If there was semen and it was not her boyfriend and it was not Adnan, and we still couldn't point out a serial killer or a serial rapist, I would still argue - depending on what that physical evidence there was - that that should also exculpate Adnan,' she told TIME.

One problem with Moore as the suspect is that Jay led police to Lee's car after he said he and Syed buried her body, and Enright cannot yet account for this.

'But I wonder about whether Jay somehow got involved with people who had some other entire scheme going on and it's them he's afraid of,' she said.

Original report here

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