Backpage.com Escort Service May Be Linked to Deaths of Young Detroit Women

A popular online site has been linked to the deaths of three young Detroit women who were found stuffed inside of burning cars last week. The victims had profiles on the popular website, Backpage.com that maintains a listing for escort services.

A fourth victim does not have a profile on the website, but was also found in a burning vehicle. No obvious signs of trauma was found on the victims, according to police.

Late yesterday, Detroit homicide detectives sought the Internet and cellphone records of the victims to zero-in on a suspect. Backpage.com is cooperating, said Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens.

The next step is getting search warrants for the IP addresses connected with the victims the police sergeant added. A computer’s IP address is a unique number assigned to that computer, and can be traced by law enforcement officials to a particular router, or user and/or address.

The investigation is ongoing, and thus, the police did not reveal which victims IP addresses would be traced, or which victims were affiliated with Backpage.com.

In a released statement by Steve Suskin, on behalf of Backpage.com, the site contends that it has more than 100 content monitors and is concerned with safety. Suskin added:

“After we heard about these terrible crimes, we reached out to the Detroit Police Department, even before we heard from them, to offer assistance in the investigation. Our team has already provided the police with detailed information about the ads that the suspect or others posted on numerous web sites.

“Law enforcement authorities now have evidence that the investigation appears to connect to at least 30 different ads or other postings on at least 15 different websites, separate and distinct from ours. We are not aware of the existence of any evidence that would indicate which of these many sites were used by the suspect to
establish contact with his victims.

On Sunday, firefighters discovered the bodies of two women, only identified as 29- and 28-years-old, were found inside a burning Buick LeSabre.

On Dec. 19, and in the same neighborhood, 23-year-old Renisha Landers and her 24-year-old cousin, Demesha Hunt, were found stuffed in the trunk of a Chrysler 300. Landers had recently accepted a job at the Chrysler plant and was looking forward to getting an advanced degree to move up at the company, sources said. The Chrysler was her new car.

Last night friends and families members of the slain cousins held a vigil, and pleaded with the public for leads.
Landers’ mother, Chikita Madison, told reporters, “We want to find whoever did this to our children.”

Despite the similarities with the murders, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee did not consider the crimes to be evidence of a serial killer.

Former prostitute and stripper Anny Donewald disagreed, and told reporters, “There’s a serial killer in Detroit, and women who work in this area need to be careful.” Donewald founded Eve’s Angels, a nonprofit support group for women in the sex industry.

Zondra Hughes

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out



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