Billy Jensen

Meet the Facebook Detective

October 23, 2018   Tags: , ,
Apple Podcasts
A citizen sleuth who's helping solve murders with social media. 

When I first meet Billy Jensen last summer in Los Angeles, he’d just returned from covering one of the most gut-wrenching cases he’s ever worked on. The head of digital operations and an occasional on-air reporter for the (now canceled) syndicated true-crime show Crime Watch Daily, Jensen was in Columbus, Ohio, to shoot a segment on the unsolved 2016 homicides of two young women. As we settled in for dinner at a busy Irish pub not far from his apartment, he recounted the gory details—how the pair’s bodies were found, a month apart, in different fields in nearby Fairfield County. One was basically a skeleton.

“Nobody deserves to be thrown away like a piece of trash,” he says. The killer or killers remain at large.

Jensen, 46, has spent the better part of his journalism career focusing on unsolved cases like this. Meaning, as he likes to put it, most of his stories have no endings.

“Whenever people ask me why I only work on unsolved murders, I tell them it’s because I hate the guy who got away with it,” Jensen says.
The idea that someone could kill another human, denying them life’s everyday pleasures—Jensen always returns to the idea of eating a hot fudge sundae or listening to a David Bowie record—enrages him.

When I met Jensen in L.A., he was focused on a new case: the death of a 31-year-old mentally disabled man at a liquor store in Inkster, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. An unidentified man repeatedly shot Hassan Ibrahim Tanana following an argument, according to state police. Tanana lived in a nearby group home and was reportedly a fixture outside the store, where he would ask passersby for spare change.

Although Jensen leans toward investigations that have gone cold, Tanana’s case had only been open for a week and he jumped on it immediately.