Courtesy of Detroit Free Press:
Computer and forensic evidence shows at least 70 different escort ads on 22 websites are linked to the investigation involving four women whose bodies were found in the trunks of cars in Detroit recently, the Free Press learned today.
Backpage.com, the website initially linked to the victims, issued a statement today, saying it has provided police with “detailed information” about the numerous escort ads tied to the case that appeared on several sites.
Police have said three of the four victims were connected to escort ads on Backpage.com, but have not specified which women or how many ads they were believed to have placed.
Backpage.com did not disclose details on the ads and only disclosed the websites they appeared on. According to Backpage.com, at least one of the four victims posted escort ads – or someone placed them for her — on the following sites:
“We are not aware of any evidence that would indicate which of these 22 websites may have been used by the suspect to establish contact with his victims,” Backpage.com attorney Steve Suskin wrote in a statement issued today. “As with everyone in the Detroit community, we offer our sincere condolences to the families of these innocent victims.”
In the statement, Backpage.com said it released the names of the other websites in response to public requests for it.
“Having learned this information and ensured that its release would not impact the police investigation, we felt it was our obligation to respond to public requests for this information,” Backpage.com said in the statement. “ Backpage does not believe its website poses any threat to any individual, in the same way that cell phone providers, the postal service and the interstate highway system do not.”
This latest revelation of more escort ads comes as the families of two victims held funeral services this morning. Cousins Renisha Landers, 23, an assembly line worker for Chrysler, and Demesha Hunt, 24, of Detroit, who left behind a 10-month-old daughter, were found dead in the trunk of Landers’ new Chrysler 300. Their bodies were found Dec. 19 at 3 p.m. in the 14900 block of Promenade.
Relatives have insisted the cousins were not involved in the escort world.
Police are awaiting toxicology results to determine the cause of death for Landers and Hunt, noting there were no signs of trauma to the bodies.
The other two victims’ bodies – burned beyond recognition – were discovered on Christmas Day in the trunk of a 1997 Buick LeSabre parked in a garage in the 14900 block of Lannette. Police have not identified the women, ages 28 and 29.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office has requested dental records from the families, whose names have not been disclosed.
Detroit police said they are seeking warrants to search various IP addresses and cell phone numbers in connection with the deaths. Police would not say whose IP addresses or cell phone numbers they want to search.
As of midday today, police had not named any suspects.
Backpage officials said the company started examining its own records after hearing Police Chief Ralph Godbee’s news conference on Monday – during which the Backpage.com connection was revealed. After looking at its own records, which included phone numbers on various ads, the company then conducted other Internet searches to identify similar ads on other sites.