THE NUMEROUS SOLUTIONS OF
est. New York | c. Los Angeles
est. New York | c. Los Angeles

Field Reports

How A Detective And A Sports Blogger Worked Together To Solve A Crime

Posted October 4th, 2015 in Field Reports, Investigations by Billy Jensen

Twitter Detectives

It was by all accounts a brutal beating.

 

On September 11, 2014, 28-year old Zachary Hesse and his 27-year old boyfriend Andrew Haught were going out for pizza on a Thursday night in Philadelphia’s trendy Center City neighborhood. They walked past a group of about a dozen well-dressed males and females. Clean cut, preppy types. The women in dresses. The men in oxfords and polos, one in a loud orange vest.

 

There was bumping. According to testimony in the criminal case that followed, words were exchanged. “Is that your fucking boyfriend?!” one of the people in the large group yelled. “Yeah he is my fucking boyfriend. Do you have a problem with that?” replied Hesse. “So you’re a dirty, fucking faggot?” said one of the men. “Maybe I am a dirty, fucking faggot,” said Hesse.

 

Then it went haywire. The assailants allegedly yelled, “You dirty faggot!” as punches and kicks rained down on the two men. At one point, Hesse claimed his hands were held while a woman in a white dress scratched his face, yelling, “Fuck you faggot!”

 

Haught eventually passed out in a pool of his own blood.

 

Hesse and Haught spent the night at Hahnemann Hospital, Haught in surgery with two broken cheekbones, getting his jaw wired shut and patching up the deep lacerations on his face.

 

Police analyzed a video surveillance tape of the individuals they believed were part of the attack, but could not identify them. So they released the tape to the public. The case then morphed into one of the best examples to date of crowdsourcing leading to an arrest. And it was the Twitter relationship between a snarky sports blogger and a police detective that was one of the main keys to the tale…. Read the rest of the tale at Vocativ.

 

 

Urban Outfitters’ Kent State Sweatshirt: Blood Splatter Oversight or Statement?

Posted September 14th, 2014 in Field Reports by Billy Jensen

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Kent State Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters is selling what they are calling a “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt” with what appears to be blood splatter splashed on the front. It is part of their vintage collection, which features one-of-a-kind items. Reads the description: “Washed soft and perfectly broken in, this vintage Kent State sweatshirt is cut in a loose, slouchy fit. Excellent vintage condition. We only have one, so get it or regret it!” Is this the beginning of a series, with a UT Austin sweatshirt not far behind?

Al Jazeera story on citizen sleuths

Posted June 11th, 2014 in Field Reports by Billy Jensen

Al Jazeera America just published a story about online citizen detectives. It covers animal crush cases, websleuths.com, Animal Beta Project, NAMus and a bunch of other things. Here is one of my quotes quotes from the story.

 

“Currently, there is no national database of cold murder cases, but Jensen is developing one, which he said will provide basic information for the 200,000 unsolved murders in the U.S. “Right now, many of these cases are sitting in a box in a warehouse gathering dust,” he said. “Why not let the public give it a shot? The people who committed the crime have gotten away with it. They’re ghosts. But the crowd can help. And it doesn’t need to be a witch hunt. The crowd can dig up the information, and funnel it through a detective who can follow up.”

 

Read the whole thing here.

Multiple Shootings Reported At Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas

Posted April 13th, 2014 in Field Reports by Billy Jensen

Shots were also fired at the Village Shalom Retirement Center in Leawood. Both buildings are on lockdown. KC Star tweeted that there was one death on the scene, and at least one wounded. The two locations are about a 1.3 miles from each other.

 

Update: Overland Park Police Chief not releasing name of suspect, only says he is a white male, in his 70s, has a beard, and is not from Kansas. “Suspect in back of car made several statements, he says. “Too early to tell you what he may or may not have said.

 

Update: The suspect has been identified as Glenn Miller, former leader of the White Nationalist Party.

 

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Update: CNN reporting a 14-year-old by is one of the victims.

 

Update: CNN Reports the FBI are investigating.

 

Update: Three people reported dead in Overland Park, Kansas Jewish Community Center Shooting.  

 

Update: KSHB is reporting that one person is in custody. 

 

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Update: KC Star reported that “The gunfire at the west side of the campus came as hundreds of high school singers from across the metro area were expected to audition for the KC SuperStar contest and actors were rehearsing for a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

 

JCC Overland Park

 

 

Jcc Shooting

The Story of The Amateur Detectives Who Hunted Accused Kitten Killer Luka Magnotta–In Rolling Stone

Posted March 20th, 2014 in Field Reports, Investigations by Billy Jensen

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My feature which chronicles the citizen detectives who tracked down a kitten killer turned accused murderer was just posted on Rolling Stone.

 

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SXSW Driver Did Not “Crash Through Barricade” — He Drove In Between Barricade and Curb

Posted March 15th, 2014 in Field Reports by Billy Jensen

First let me preface by saying nothing will take the blame off of the suspect in SXSW Red River vehicular murder which has claimed two lives, has eight still in the hospital, and injured 15 others. Nothing. But I wanted to clear up something that is being widely reported.

 

The morning after the incident, I went down to the site and spoke to the men in orange who work the barricades. One of them was just leaving the scene when the crash occurred, but the other was quite possibly the first person to dodge the car as it turned onto Red River.

 

The way many of the street blockades are set up during SXSW is that there are two or three wooden barricades spanning 2/3rds of the road, and then an orange traffic cone in the final third. That way, workers only have to move the cone when authorized vehicles need to go in or out. An individual is there if anyone tries to turn into the area to tell them to stop. But if someone is coming at a high rate of speed, being chased by police and legally drunk, that’s a tough assignment for a $10-an-hour job.

 

sxsw barricade

 

So as the driver was going the wrong way on 9th evading the police cruiser, he had four options as he approached the intersection at Red River. The first was to stop. Saving everyone–including himself. The second was to keep going straight. We will learn once the cruiser dash cam becomes public if there were vehicle facing his way. The third was to turn right, which as a driver is an easier turn, and when you are being chased, there is a natural instinct to turn the closest corner to get out of sight of the predator chasing you. The final choice would have been to turn left, which is a tougher turn, and he might have seen more activity to the left.

 

The suspect chose right, made a tight turn, squeezed in between the wooden barricade and the curb and rolled over the pylon, according to the worker. The worker says he dove behind the pole to the right of the picture above. He saw the first pedestrian who was struck fly at least ten feet in the air, before landing on his back. Witnesses say the car accelerated as it went straight down the road hitting people, many who were waiting in line to get into the Mohawk. It then went through the 10th street intersection. The two fatalities occurred in between 10th and 11th, say police.

 

On Friday, the barricades were tighter to the curb. You can see a line to get into the Mohawk in the background.

SXSW barricade

 

 

The suspect told police he was scared to pull over because he had a warrants for his arrest. Would the suspect have made the turn had he seen a wooden barricade there instead of a pylon? Was the police officer too overzealous in his pursuit? Should clubs not organize lines in the middle of the street even if that street is supposed to be closed off to vehicle traffic? These are the questions that will attempt to be answered more in the sure-to-come wrongful death suits rather than during any criminal trial. Would a wooden barrier have slowed him down? Police say the driver accelerated after hitting people, and there is no evidence that he applied his brakes.

 

Discarded EMS worker gloves the morning after the SXSW crash on Red River. James Shamard of Austin-Travis EMS said that the five "very critical" victims were headed to hospitals within 15 minutes of the crash.

Discarded EMS worker gloves the morning after the SXSW crash on Red River. James Shamard of Austin-Travis EMS said that the five “very critical” victims were headed to hospitals within 15 minutes of the crash.

 

 

 

Solving Murders with Social Media SXSW Panel

Posted March 9th, 2014 in Field Reports by Billy Jensen
Bill Jensen and Michelle McNamara at the SXSW panel: Citizen Dicks: Solving Murders with Social Media.

Bill Jensen and Michelle McNamara at the SXSW panel: Citizen Dicks: Solving Murders with Social Media.

Le Monde wrote it up in their daily round up. Scroll down, we are in between Oculus and Grumpy Cat.

 

The slides will be up shortly.

 

There was not a single law enforcement representative in the crowd of 125. Something to work on for next year’s panel.

Maura Murray Went Missing On This Day 10 Years Ago

Posted February 9th, 2014 in Field Reports, Investigations by Billy Jensen

On Feb. 9, 2004, Maura Murray sent her professors at UMASS Amherst an email explaining that there was a death in her family and she would be gone for a few days. The 21-year old nursing student then walked out of her dorm room, purchased $35 worth of alcohol and drove her black Saturn into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She took a shaky turn on Rt. 112 in Haverhill and crashed her car into a snow bank. A passing motorist pulled up to the disabled car, and asked Maura if she needed help. She refused. Around fifteen minutes later, a police officer arrived at the scene and found the car locked, its windshield cracked, the airbags deployed—and not a soul in sight. In those fifteen minutes, Maura Murray had disappeared into the New Hampshire night.

 

MauraMurrayMissing

Every day for the last ten years, each detail of the Maura Murray tale is analyzed, dissected and reconstructed with a Warren Commission-like attention to detail on blogs and online forums. The car accident two days earlier in Amherst. The father visiting with $4,000 cash in his pocket. The crying episode. The box of wine. The serial killer. The MapQuest print out. The school bus. The rag in the tailpipe. The sobbing voice mail. The clues are moved around the internet in a parlor game by armchair detectives, debated as either viable clues or vicious red herrings, along with the idea—the hope—that this may not be a crime at all, but rather an elaborate ruse by a young woman wanting to start a new life.

 

Read:

My feature in Boston Magazine on Maura Murray and the internet sleuths determined to find her.

The Downward Spiral of Johnny Lewis: Feature in Los Angeles Magazine

Posted January 31st, 2014 in Field Reports, Investigations by Billy Jensen

My feature on Johnny Lewis, the Sons of Anarchy actor who killed his landlady and then either fell or jumped from her home last September, was just posted on the Los Angeles Magazine website. You can read the story here.

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RJ Lockwood, Killed In Miami On New Year’s Eve, 2003

Posted January 2nd, 2014 in Field Reports, Investigations by Billy Jensen

123859.47Today marks the tenth anniversary of the murder of RJ Lockwood, who was killed in his Miami apartment just after midnight on January 1, 2003. The murder is still unsolved.

 

I wrote a feature story about the murder in May of 2004 for Miami New Times. It is part internet love story, part murder mystery. The only thing it needed was an ending.

 

It went on to win Best in Show Best In Print at the Green Eyeshade Awards, the nation’s oldest regional journalism contest which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

 

Read the story here.