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


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,, 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.

SLA Shootout with LAPD, May 17, 1974

Posted May 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Billy Jensen

Today is the 40th anniversary of the shootout between the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Glenn Miller, former White Nationalist leader, Identified as suspect in Kansas Jewish Center Shooting

Posted April 14th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Billy Jensen

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a 73-year old from Aurora, Missouri who also goes by the name Glenn Cross, has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the suspect in the shootings at two Jewish centers in suburban Kansas City.


Miller is the founder of the White Patriot Party in the early 1980s.




In 2012, he spoke to a group of students at Missouri State University. He covered various topics, including the Holocaust, Henry Ford, and what he perceived as the Jewish dominance of government. In a “heated exchange” with a Jewish student, Miller told her Hell yes, I hate you and all Jews, and you all deserve my hate for what your people have done to mine”.


(Incidentally, other guests included Dan Gayman of the Church of Israel, who I interviewed as part of my Master’s final project at the University of Kansas.)

Kansas Jewish Community Center Shooter Reportedly Yelled “Heil Hitler” When Taken Into Custody

Posted April 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Billy Jensen

Overland Park Police Department are reporting three people dead in the shooting. A press conference will be held at 5pm central time.



KSHB, who had people on the scene faster than any other media outlet, reported that the shooting suspect yelled “Heil Hitler” as he was being taken into custody.




Screenshot from KSHB site, showing suspect in custody.

Screenshot from KSHB site, showing suspect in custody.

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.




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. 


Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 12.50.31 PM


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

In The Company Of Misery: How I Became a Manchester City Supporter

Posted April 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized by Billy Jensen
  • This is an essay I wrote 7 years ago, which was published in an American newspaper. Yes, things have changed (most notably, the bank account of City), but the meat, marrow and meaning remains the same.




    No matter what the sport, I will hand over three hours if the two teams on the field are rivals, the fans in the stands sporting chewed-up knuckles, relishing all the barbarism and carnage to come, along with the hope of bragging rights for at least one night. And when the rivalry is provincial—two teams, home bases only miles apart, supporters born into the faith, house by house, street by street—the game is that much more grand, meaty and rare, tapping into the primal instinct every human is instilled with: the instinct to protect your turf.


    It was this type of rivalry that had me drinking a pint of Guinness in an East Village bar at 8 in the morning a few Sundays ago. The thing about a rivalry like this is you can’t simply pick a side. You’re born onto a side. When my daughter came home from school and asked me why we have to like the New York Mets baseball club, I could have placed blame on my grandparents for escaping the Lower East Side and downtown Brooklyn for the pastoral landscape of the Hempstead Plains. That pilgrimage, which ended (at least for me) with two teenagers meeting in the East Meadow High School cafeteria, cast me down the wobbly road to that triumvirate of Long Island’s new kids on the block, the Mets (baseball), the Jets (American football) and the Islanders (ice hockey). 


    I have always been keenly aware of the second-class citizenship that such loyalty has bestowed upon me and my family. And for close to 20 years, I have been keenly aware of losing. The New York Rangers finally winning the Stanley Cup (and their fans subsequently shoving it down the Islanders fans’ throats). The Yankees destroying the Mets time and time again, culminating with the heart breaking Subway Series in 2000. And of course, the Jets, while not having a rival as sharp as the others, still rip out my heart and show it to me on a season-by-season basis, coming up with new and creative uses for the well-worn phrase “same old Jets,” a motto that might as well be on the team’s crest. In those three sports, these are my teams till I die.


    In 2001, I was flipping through Saturday morning cartoons when I stumbled upon an English Premier League soccer game. I had heard stories of English football, the hooligans, the chants, the blood dribbling down the chins of haggard-toothed fans. Rivalry. So even though it was soccer, I watched. The next week, I watched again. Then again. I actually began to enjoy it: the rude-boy chants spilling out from the stands, the eruption when the odd goal was finally netted. But sport is unlike art or music. You can enjoy it–lose yourself in the rhythms and the textures and melodies, but at some point, you must pick a side. I spent hours watching matches and reading soccer-mad websites. I was about two weeks into my search when it hit me: Here was my chance to choose a winner.


    I was not born into any of these regions, let alone ever been to them. I knew Leeds from the side streets Morrissey spoke of slipping down; Blackburn, Lancashire from the 4,000 holes Lennon read about in the news. 


    After a month, I came up with some prime choices and called Colin, the only British fellow I know. “I think I’ve got a team,” I said. “Arsenal.”


    “Not very rock star, Arsenal,” Colin said. I didn’t quite know what he meant.


    “I don’t quite know what you mean,” I said.


    “C’mon,” said Colin. “They won it all last year.”


    “Okay,” I said.


    He was right. What’s the fun jumping in bed with someone who just won? I want to be part of the build-up.


    “How ‘bout Liverpool?”


    “What are you doing?” Colin said.


    “Why don’t you just give in and support United.”


    Manchester United. The most visible squad in the football universe. The world’s richest sports franchise. Fifteen league championships. Their exhibition games have sold out Giants Stadium. You could call them the New York Yankees of the football world.


    But where there is a Yankee, there has to be, in the shadows, a Met. A runt. A second-class citizen. I bit my tongue and asked Colin the inevitable.


    “Isn’t there another team in Manchester?”


    “Yes,” he replied. “Manchester City.”


    Years of pain and torment. Forty-seven million pounds in debt. Blowing it at all the wrong times. Last major trophy, 1976. I have never been to Manchester, knowing it only from Smiths lyrics and the Gallagher brothers. “I would rather kick my daughter out of the house than let her support Manchester United,” Noel Gallagher once said.


    A few days later, I saw Colin. “Manchester City,” I declared.


    He raised an eyebrow. “Well, if that’s the way you want to go…But be prepared for heartache.”


    About 10 people are standing outside Nevada Smith’s in the East Village on a cold February morning, shivering under a sign that reads, “Where Football is Religion.” In the vernacular of the natives, it is called a Derby. The Manchester Derby, United vs. City. Most of the crowd is wearing the red of Manchester United. I spot one older guy with a light-blue ski cap of City.


    At 7:45, the door opens. The bar is a typical New York railroad number, long and narrow. I follow the man with the ski cap to the back of the bar, pull up a stool next to him and pull off my sweater to reveal the City jersey I picked up on eBay. An older gentleman comes in with his two young sons. I get but one sentence out of my mouth about the upcoming match, something about how good keeper David James played the previous week against Chelsea, when he interrupts me.


    “You American?” he says with a bewildered look.


    “Yes,” I say.


    “Why do you support City?”


    “Well, because I’m a Mets fan and a Jets fan,” I say.


    He smiles. “The underdogs, huh?”


    More City fans enter, giving each other the same sad looks I used to see at Shea Stadium before Jet games in the late ‘70s. United fans, staked out in the front of the bar, outnumber us 4-1. The game, beamed by satellite from City’s home pitch, begins and City is playing hard. A beautiful cross by Shaun Wright-Phillips is headed wide by Steve McManaman. Should have been a goal. City fans hold their heads. Won’t get many chances like that. Then the chants start. They are mostly nursery rhymes, sung in English accents, with naughty words. “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Scousers right on top/Put the city in the middle and burn the fuckin’ lot.” It goes on like this for the rest of the game. Our chants are a happy “City Till I Die” number and “Blue Moon,” as in “Blue moon, you saw me standing alone.”When 48,000 sing it at City of Manchester Stadium, it sounds quite majestic. When 10 sing it at a bar in the East Village at 8 on a Sunday morning, it sounds like crap.


    In the second half, United’s teenage prodigy Wayne Rooney breaks through and rolls the ball under the Man City keeper. One-nil, which is a tantamount to death at this stage. A United fan jumps on top of the bar and the chants get more severe. “City’s going down like a Russian Submarine,” sung to “Yellow Submarine,” along with, “Twenty nine years… F**k all,” which I quickly understand is United’s version of the Yankee fan’s once reliable “1918” (sung to Red Sox fans in reference to their last World Series win).

    Rooney Dives

    City’s heart is out of it. One of their defenders tries to stop a cross and inadvertently kicks it into his own net. The red side of the bar erupts with a part cheer/part laugh that is difficult to describe, other than to say that I have been on the receiving end of its torment before at Shea Stadium.


    The game ends quickly after that, and most of the City fans exit. I stick around with the last men standing, listening to the chants still being pelted our way. I actually get angry. We need better organization. Better chants. C’mon guys.


    After a fourth Guinness, I sidle next to a doughy-faced City supporter at the urinal.


    “Ah,” he says, shaking his head in disappointment.


    “I know,” I reply. “So many chances early on.”


    “Yeah,” he says “Typical City.”


    I settle my tab and walk into the chilly mid-morning of the East Village with a smile on my face.


    I never had a choice at all. I may have never been to Manchester.


    But I was born there.

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

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 3.32.21 PM

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



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.