The blockbuster podcast Serial raised questions about whether convicted killer Adnan Syed was responsible for a Maryland murder along with questions about whether another man, Ronald Lee Moore, may have instead been the murderer. Now police in South Carolina are offering a new twist to the case. They’ve announced Moore’s DNA matches evidence collected at the scene of a 1996 Myrtle Beach murder.
In a press conference Thursday, Myrtle Beach police said Moore’s DNA was found on towels and a bedspread at the condo where Shawn Marie Neal was found strangled. Some also was on the 23-year old’s clothing. Police say when the cold case was reopened in November 2017, they put the evidence into a database and it returned a match for Moore. He lived in Maryland at the time of the killing, but they speculate he may have been in Myrtle Beach on his way to Louisiana to visit friends.
Moore’s name is probably familiar to anyone who listened to the Serial podcast. His name came up as a possible suspect in the murder of Hae Min Lee. Her 1999 murder was the subject of the podcast’s first season. Police eventually arrested her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for the crime and he was convicted in 2000 of killing Lee, and burying her body in a Baltimore park. He’s currently serving a life sentence. Even if Moore is linked to both crimes, he won’t face a judge. Moore died in a Louisiana prison in 2008 while being held on unrelated charges.
Syed’s attorneys filed a series of appeals based on the argument that his now-deceased trial attorney violated Syed’s constitutional right to counsel since she failed to contact an alibi witness. In November the Supreme Court rejected a petition asking he be given a new trial.
It was Serial’s investigation into Syed’s case that brought a fresh review of the trial and conviction. The 2014 podcast, hosted by Sarah Koenig, was downloaded 300 million times. It was also a break-out moment for podcasters everywhere as the medium suddenly attracted widespread attention and helped spur the past five years of growth.
It has also spawned a television show. Last spring HBO aired a four-part documentary series about Syed’s case. “The Case Against Adnan Syed” was created by documentary filmmaker Amy Berg. She described herself as a “fanatical listener” to the Serial podcast.
Serial Productions was created in 2017 by Koenig, Julie Snyder and Ira Glass three years after Serial was born as a side project to their work at the WBEZ Chicago-based radio show “This American Life.” They are now reportedly considering a sale. The Wall Street Journal said last month that Serial Productions is being shopped to several potential buyers. The New York Times is reportedly among those considering making an offer.
Serial has so far been as successful in its follow up second and third seasons. The show’s website says the producers are currently accepting pitches for a story to focus on for Serial’s fourth season. But it says no decision has been made on when season four will be released, telling fans the producers are currently working on other projects.