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Editor’s note: “Unmaking a Murderer,” scheduled for Friday night, was canceled on Wednesday. The Waco Hippodrome will contact ticket holders with details on receiving a refund.

As attorney, podcaster and author Rabia Chaudry knows, sometimes solving a crime comes after a jury’s decision. And as investigator Sarah Cailean knows, solving a crime sometimes happens years after criminal investigators have closed a case.

Waco fans of true crime stories and podcasting will see how insights from the two women’s work and experiences overlap in their live presentation “Unmaking a Murderer” Friday night at the Waco Hippodrome.







Rabia Chaudry

Rabia Chaudry


“She does cold cases, I do innocence cases. I do criminal justice and talk about how to undo a conviction. Sarah does justice work. There’s a lot of overlay,” explained Chaudry, whose name may be familiar to those who’ve followed the long case of Adnan Syed.

Syed was a Baltimore high school student convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1999 murder of a classmate he had dated, Hae Min Lee. The case drew national attention thanks to the podcast “Serial,” whose first season explored flaws in the investigation and subsequent trials, and put podcasting on the map for millions of listeners.

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Chaudry, a childhood friend of Syed, initially brought his case to the attention of “Serial” producer and host Sarah Koenig, then followed “Serial” with her own podcast, “Undisclosed,” in which she, Susan Simpson and Collin Miller examined the Syed case in more detail. That more detailed story Chaudry captured in her book, “Adnan’s Story,” which became a New York Times best-seller, and in the HBO series “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”

The response to “Undisclosed” steered Chaudry deeper into innocence work and podcasting, with Chaudry and her “Undisclosed” colleagues exploring other cases of unwrongful convictions. At last count, “Undisclosed” has led to the exonerations of more than a dozen people in prison, with some 400 million downloads by listeners.

She and Simpson collaborated on the podcast “The 45th,” which looked at the policy developments and consequences during the administration of President Donald Trump, and she hosted two others coming out of her own interests and literary tastes: “The Hidden Djinn,” folk stories in Arabian and Muslim mythologies told about the Djinn, and her current collection of spooky bedtime stories, “Nighty Night.”

There’s also a new book on the way this fall, “Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat and Family,” her account of food, body image and growing up in an immigrant Pakistani family.

Cailean, a former police officer, comes to Waco as a civilian special investigator for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama and heads the consulting firm Cailean Investigations, with more than a decade’s experience in criminal investigation. She also created the documentary series “Hell in the Heartland: What Happened to Ashley and Lauria?”







Sarah Cailean

Sarah Cailean


Friday’s presentation with Cailean came after the two had been booked for a Magnolia executive event. While in Waco, they thought about doing a public presentation on their work, resulting in the Hippodrome event.

“We’ll walk through a case and see how do you approach old evidence?” said Chaudry, speaking by phone from New York. “What Sarah and I do is go back to the beginning. What steps would I have taken if I were the investigator?”

Chaudry will share from her work with the Syed case, while Cailean will present a case that Friday’s audience likely has not heard about.

While the two seek justice from different ends of a case, Chaudry after a jury conviction, Cailean for cases that never get that far, there’s common ground in the problems they find that steer investigators and prosecutors away from finding the true criminals. Chaudry ticks off the usual suspects: tunnel vision that keeps investigators from exploring alternate explanations, poor documentation of evidence or investigatory steps, no forensic testing, bad police practice or poor legal work.

It’s territory they’ve explored in sound through podcasts, only Friday’s audience will get to see the documents and photos they use this time.

For those who love unraveling mysteries, innocence justice work and cold cases offers those sort of stories, but often with the happy ending of justice accomplished and innocents freed. That’s the motivation for Chaudry. “I love it. I love the work,” she said.

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