4 Murdered in Detroit, Online Dating Service Common Link

One week. Two car trunks. Four women dead.

Detroit police may be on the hunt for a killer who might be targeting escorts after it was discovered that three of the four women found dead this month are linked to sex-related advertisements on Backpage.com, police said Monday. The website includes dozens of come-hithers from metro Detroit escorts offering exotic fantasies and erotic playtime.

“This tie for us is disconcerting,” Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said Monday. “We’re stopping short of calling it a serial pattern.” 

I’m not. This is a serial killer. The only other option I can think of is a pissed off pimp and I am not getting that feeling from this.

The women were found dead in pairs: Demesha Hunt, 24, and Renisha Landers, 23, both of Detroit, were discovered about 3 p.m. Dec. 19 in the trunk of a 2009 Chrysler 300C on the 14900 block of Promenade.

Two more women, their names not yet released by police, were found burned beyond recognition about 1 a.m. Sunday in the trunk of a 1997 Buick LeSabre parked in a garage on the 14900 block of Lannette, according to Godbee. They were 28 and 29.

Detroit police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens declined Monday to say how police figured out the escort connection or who owned the cars the bodies were discovered in. The cause of death has not yet been determined, police said, but they are treating the incidents as suspicious deaths and have homicide investigators working the cases.

Considering the bodies were locked in trunks and at least 2 were burned I should hope that the police were not considering natural causes.

Godbee said during a news conference Monday that police had a “moral obligation” to share the information about the deaths with the public. “With the vast increase in the utilization of social media and the Internet, we must continue to be vigilant in identifying any website which may potentially pose a threat to individuals,” he said.

Backpage.com is like Craigslist, offering ads ranging from pets for sale and computer services to real estate and body rubs.

The Detroit Police Department had not made contact with the website’s administration, Godbee said Monday.

Chicago attorney Samuel Fifer, a lawyer for Backpage.com, declined to comment Monday night.

The website is owned by Phoenix-based Village Voice Media. Efforts to reach relatives of Hunt and Landers by phone or via Twitter were unsuccessful.

“They’re devastated,” Godbee said, describing the reaction of the victims’ families.

At the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, an unidentified employee declined to comment on any details surrounding the four deaths.

This is not the first time Backpage.com has turned up in a criminal matter. Earlier this month, a woman was indicted in federal court in Detroit after police said she sent a 16-year-old girl on hundreds of sex dates and pocketed 40% of her earnings. The FBI learned about the woman, Satoria Youngblood, after responding to an ad on Backpage.com that read: “New To Your Town — Hot! Sexy! & The Best Around.” Turned out, the escort was a minor, who was caught in an undercover operation Nov. 4 at the Extended Stay Hotel in Southfield, records show. Her arrest triggered child pornography charges against Youngblood, who remains incarcerated pending trial. Backpage.com was not charged in the incident.

A similar tale recently unfolded in Missouri. However, in that case, a minor sued Backpage.com, saying the website aided in child prostitution by allowing her pimp to post nude photos of her in ads, records show. In August, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, holding that while the minor endured “horrific victimization” at the hands of her pimp, Backpage.com was protected by the Communications Decency Act, which shields online companies from liability for what others post online. Meanwhile, the pimp in the Missouri case was sentenced last December to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to prostitution charges.

Tampa attorney Paul DeCailly, who represents escort services in a variety of litigation, said he strongly doubts that Backpage.com will face any liability in the Detroit deaths, should it turn out the women were targeted because they were escorts. “The ads are what bring two people together,” he said. “To start holding everyone liable for what happens in response to that ad would be quite an extension of liability.”

Last September, Craigslist yanked its ad section for sex-related services after years of pressure, including a letter from 17 state attorneys general who argued the site was rampant with prostitution ads.

With Craigslist out of the picture, Backpage.com became the new leader in adult services ads, making $24.3 million in the last 12 months in revenues from those ads, according to research from the Advanced Interactive Media Group in Altamonte Springs, Fla.

In October, 36 clergy ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, demanding Village Voice Media remove the adult ads from Backpage.com. A coalition of 21 attorneys general, including Michigan’s, made a similar request in a 2010 letter. Backpage.com refused and contended on its website: “Backpage.com is committed to preventing those who are intent on misusing the site for illegal purposes.”

On Monday, Godbee advised that if you are thinking about meeting someone from the Internet, tell someone you know exactly when and where you plan to meet the person — and then do so in a public place. “Deciding to meet unknown persons via the Internet can be extremely dangerous,” he said. “Our sole purpose is for the public to be cognizant of this website when engaged in adult activities.”

At 7:57 p.m. Monday, someone posted a warning on Backpage.com. In part: “Never go any where with just anybody … If U no some crazy person that U have seen recently & he tried to really harm U, I would contact the Detroit Police Department.”

More than two dozen women who posted ads on Backpage.com did not return calls from Free Press reporters seeking comment.

Map and Source

This is not the first time Backpage.com has been linked to a “possible” serial killer. Kylan Laurent (Louisiana) also mt women using it.

In the Jefferson Parish cases, Laurent is thought to have contacted women who posted advertisements on the website backpage.com, met them at their motel rooms, bound their hands and choked them. Only the Harvey victim survived, and officials said she has since identified Laurent as her attacker. As in McDonald’s killing, Laurent didn’t have sex with Hudgins or the Harvey victim, the Normand said.

Full story here.

Pictures and more information on the dangers of Craigslist and Backpage here

Video Here

For $33,000 Shermantine Will Talk

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A convicted serial killer claims he can lead police to the remains of dozens of murder victims, but he has demanded thousands of dollars before he will give out the information.

Sacramento-based bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputies began searching a remote area Thursday in an attempt to find the remains of 16-year-old Stockton girl Chevy Wheeler, who disappeared in 1985 and may have been buried in the area, if a letter from death row inmate Wesley Shermantine is to be believed.

“I buried Chevy on my parent’s property, out where Chino lived on the other side of the dam,” Shermantine wrote, including a crude hand drawn map to the location.

Shermantine further claimed in the letter that more than two dozen cold case murders could be solved if he reveals the location of a “bone yard” belonging to his childhood friend and convicted killer Loren Herzog, who was released on parole in the San Joaquin Valley earlier this year.

“Once Chevy is recovered, I expect my restitution to be paid, then I will take the next step in recovering Herzog’s bone yard,” Shermantine added.

Shermantine wants a total of $33,000 for the information — $18,000 to pay off his victim’s restitution and another $15,000 to buy headstones for his parents and provide spending money in prison.

Shermantine was convicted along with Herzog for a 15-year-long methamphetamine-fueled killing spree that earned them the name “Speed Freak Killers.” Herzog was originally sentenced to 78 years in prison but had his sentenced reduced to 14 years after an appeals court ruled that his detailed confessions were illegally coerced.

“We believe that now we can find the bodies,” Padilla said. “He’s on death row. His whole world right now is the next candy bar.”

Padilla has been offering Shermantine cash for the last 12 years in an effort to crack the cold cases, arguing that the closure of knowing what happened to missing persons would be priceless for the victims’ family members.

Shermantine has maintained his innocence against all accusations of murder, but witnesses have stated that he bragged about killing as many as 19 people.

According to published reports, the family of Chevy Wheeler does not believe Shermantine has any useful information.

There is a slight chance that Shermantine will eventually tell the truth and even release the information about the bodies. It has to be killing him that Herzog is out. Herzog betrayed him and was then released. Shermantine’s anger and his desire for Herzog to ‘pay’ might push him to talk.

I doubt (hope there won’t be) there will ever be an agreement to give him the money that he is asking for. I don’t care what he claims the money will be for. He has pulled this before, asking for more money, art supplies or to be released. It is a game to him.

The only way that he will get that money is if those bounty hunters give it to him in the hopes of fame and glory. I doubt that they would get what they pay for though. If he gets the money he will be comfortable for a while and probably not tell them anymore information. He enjoys the attention, the cat and mouse game he gets to play. He feels powerful and knows that he is causing pain to the families and he gets off on that.



Serial Killer Case Causes Changes in Police Department

SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) — The incoming Suffolk County Executive says that he’s cleaning house in the police department because of what he calls dysfunctional leadership.

That’s the word from Suffolk County Executive-elect Steve Bellone.

Bellone says he’s been astonished at the public bickering sparked by the police commissioner’s claim that just 1 killer is responsible for the murders at Oak and Gilgo Beaches.

“When we have the highest profile case the department’s had to deal with in years, maybe ever, and it’s not being handled the way it needs to be handled that indicates a much deeper problem,” said Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive-elect.

Suffolk County Executive-elect Steve Bellone says he’s been astonished to witness the public dispute the county’s two top law enforcement officers: outgoing Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, who told Eyewitness News the 10 Ocean Parkway bodies were the victims of a single killer, and DA Tom Spota who issued a stern rebuke Wednesday.

“We all have theories of how something occurred. But we don’t advance those theories publicly,” Spota said.

Spota says Dormer’s own detectives disagree with their boss, and believe, as Spota does, that the bodies could have been dumped by two, or even three separate killers.

“Believe me, I am well aware of the fact that matters like this shouldn’t be discussed publicly, but I just felt I couldn’t let the police commissioner say what he was saying. Many theories and they didn’t make sense to me,” Spota said.

For Bellone, who’s been supervisor of the town where the crime scene lies, it’s just the latest reason to clean house at police headquarters.

It’s lately buffeted not just by the beach bodies case, but also by an ongoing federal investigation into its policy on hate crimes.

“When you couple that with the fact that the police department is still under justice department investigation, it starts to paint a picture of a problem in the department that is systemic, rather than just an isolated example. So it concerns me as I’m about to take office,” Bellone said.

Starting the first of the year, Dormer and several top deputies will be out.

Temporarily taking his place will be Chief Edward Webber, a 40-year veteran, who will hold down the fort while Bellone searches the country for a commissioner, who he says will stabilize a department that’s taken quite a beating.

Video and more here.



Man believed to be victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy found alive


Your comments (optioA man whose family thought he had been murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been found alive and living in Oregon, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart said Wednesday. For 35 years, Theodore “Ted” Szal’s family thought they had lost him. But this week they learned he actually was alive and had willingly disappeared years ago while going through a divorce. “I believe Christmas has come early for the Szal family,” Sheriff Dart said. “Being able to tell an 88-year-old father that……..

Another Gacy victim found alive.

Originally posted on This Just In:

A man whose family thought he had been murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been found alive and living in Oregon, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart said Wednesday.

For 35 years, Theodore “Ted” Szal’s family thought they had lost him. But this week they learned he actually was alive and had willingly disappeared years ago while going through a divorce.

“I believe Christmas has come early for the Szal family,” Sheriff Dart said. “Being able to tell an 88-year-old father that his son, whose picture he has been carrying around for 34 years in his breast pocket, has been found alive is something special.”

The sheriff’s office confirmed that Szal, now 59, is living in Beaverton, Oregon, and left town when he was 24 years old.

“He was not reported missing to authorities because Ted had a history of disengaging from his family for periods of time and…

View original 450 more words

Gary Hilton Trial Delayed

ASHEVILLE — With more than a half million documents available for review by attorneys for serial killer Gary Michael Hilton, a judge has again delayed the trial to give them more time to prepare.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger set a hearing date of Feb. 27, according to court documents filed this week. Hilton’s next court appearance had been set for Jan. 4.

The court filings also indicate the possibility of a plea deal with federal prosecutors in the kidnapping and killing of a Henderson County couple.

“Counsel has been diligently reviewing and indexing all documents in this matter, as well as conducting plea negotiations in this matter,” attorney Joseph VonKallist wrote. “Counsel does not believe that review of the discovery and further plea negotiations can be realistically conducted before the start of the upcoming criminal term.”

Hilton, 65, was charged in July with the slayings of John and Irene Bryant, who disappeared while hiking in the Pink Beds area of Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County on Oct. 21, 2007.

Prosecutors have filed court papers indicating they plan to seek the death penalty. The trial is to be held in federal court in Asheville.

VonKallist said he has obtained more than 250 CDs and 44,000 pages of text related to the case against Hilton.

“Counsel has been given access to an additional 500,000 documents prepared and gathered by the prior defense team who represented Mr. Hilton in Florida,” he said in the request for a continuance.

Hilton has already been sentenced to death in Florida for the murder of a nurse out for a hike in that state, and he was sentenced to life in prison for the slaying of a hiker in Georgia. Authorities said those cases have similarities to the killings of the Bryants.

Searchers found the body of Irene Bryant, 84, near a trail off Yellow Gap Road in the national forest north of Brevard. She died of multiple blows to the head and had her right forearm severed, according to an autopsy.

Someone used the Bryants ATM card in Ducktown, Tenn., the day after she was killed.

The skeletal remains of John Bryant, 80, were later found by a hunter about 30 yards down a bank off a U.S. Forest Service road near Franklin. An autopsy determined that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Article here 



Ian Brady Continues to Cause Families Pain


By James Murray

The brother of Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett has launched an impassioned plea to stop serial child killer Ian Brady from having his day in the public eye because it would be a travesty of natural justice.

Alan Bennett says Brady’s human rights are being viewed as more important than his and today accuses the killer of mounting a macabre publicity stunt.

Keith was just 12 when he was taken to Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester, and murdered by Brady and his evil accomplice Myra Hindley in 1964.

“I see no reason why the system should pander to his whims when my brother still lies on Saddleworth Moor, having been abused and murdered by Brady in that lonely place,” said Alan.

Brady, 73, wants to be moved from Ashworth high security prison in Merseyside to a prison in Scotland, where it is thought he believes he would be allowed to take his own life. Astonishingly, Brady persuaded mental health tribunal Judge Robert Atherton to allow the public to see his face and hear his arguments.

It would be the first time he has been seen in public for 45 years after he was jailed in 1966 for killing John Kilbride, 12, Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17.

Alan’s mother Winnie, 78, has said she wants to attend the hearing to ask Brady why he killed her son and where he buried his body.

Alan told the Sunday Express: ‘‘Although this is a public hearing, I doubt very much whether I, or any other members of the victims’ families, will be permitted to attend.

Brady’s human rights have long been regarded as more important than ours. I also suspect that this wish for a public hearing is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Let us not forget how he used the press before, and the system, in order to gain release from prison and into a secure hospital.

Now he wishes to do the same in reverse because he hasn’t found Ashworth an easy option.

“His disgusting whinging and repulsive ever-present complaints are being rewarded once more. In all the years that Keith has been missing, Brady has never genuinely tried to help us find his body.”

Terry Kilbride, 57, whose brother John disappeared in November 1963, said: “This hearing should be done behind closed doors and the public should be told about it afterwards. I think he will upset people again and I don’t think people want to hear it.”

Judge Atherton granted Brady’s request to have the hearing made public in October but the ruling was only revealed last week.

The date and arrangements are still being arranged but one possibility is that it will be held in a secure room at Ashworth with limited seating available to the public.

There is an option of having the proceedings filmed to allow journalists and the public to follow events in an adjoining room.

Under the terms of tribunal hearings the judge would sit with a consultant psychiatrist and a specialist lay member.

The psychiatrist would examine Brady and verbally report on his mental state to the judge in private.

At the public element of the hearing the judge would tell Brady’s lawyer about the findings of the psychiatrist.

Brady denied killing Keith Bennett for many years but eventually confessed to the murder and that of Pauline Reade, 16. Hindley died behind bars in 2002, aged 60.


I feel so bad for these families.

If it was up to me I’d just let Brady die. His only contribution to society is now to bring pain.

I doubt he will ever tell Keith’s family where his body is. Brady enjoys the control and power he gets from it.

Police Commissioner and D.A. Argue Over How Many Killers

Spota Discounts Lone Long Island Serial Killer Theory


Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota told county legislators at a hearing that he disagrees with Police Commissioner Richard Dormer’s latest theory that a single serial killer left the remains along several miles of highway between Long Island’s Jones and Gilgo beaches.

Spota said he was “shocked and surprised” when he received a telephone call from a reporter several weeks ago asking about Dormer’s change of heart.

“I had no idea what that reporter was talking about,” Spota said, adding that Dormer has yet to discuss the revised theory with him personally.

“I would never even discuss this publicly, except I think that the facts that have been disclosed so far do not bear out the single killer theory at all,” said Spota, who had previously declined to comment through a spokesman.

The district attorney and Dormer were in agreement in May when they appeared at a joint press conference to say that authorities believed multiple killers were likely responsible for the deaths of eight women, a man and a toddler.

The remains were found in the thick underbrush along the beach highway between December 2010 and April. Investigators later determined that some remains found near the parkway were linked by DNA to remains of homicide victims found more than 40 miles away as far back as 1996.

Dormer said in interview with The Associated Press earlier this month in advance of the anniversary of the Dec. 11 discovery of the first body that he had revised his theory. He now believes one killer is likely responsible.

Dormer discounted that some of the victims had been dismembered while some had not, arguing that serial killers often evolve and change their tactics. He pointed to the likelihood that all the victims were linked to the sex trade as another indicator that one killer was likely responsible.

On Thursday, Spota countered that because five of the 10 victims have yet to be identified, the police commissioner is not able to confirm that all had a link to the sex trade.

The toddler who was found is believed to the child of one of the unidentified dead prostitutes, Dormer has said. The male victim was found wearing women’s clothing, which Dormer said indicates he may have been a prostitute. Spota countered that men can be cross-dressers without being prostitutes.

The district attorney said not only does he disagree with Dormer’s view, but contended that many of the homicide detectives investigating the case do not share the commissioner’s opinion. Dormer has conceded that others, including some in his department, may not agree with him and has left open the possibility that he could change the theory if additional information is received.

Dormer, who is leaving office at the end of this month, had testified before the legislature’s public safety committee prior to Spota’s appearance Thursday morning but left before the district attorney’s testimony. A spokeswoman said later that Dormer had no comment on what Spota said.

The district attorney said he felt he had been blindsided by Dormer’s revised theory. He said his chief assistant assigned to the case didn’t even know about it.

“I have to tell you that in our office, the DA’s office and the homicide squad work hand in hand,” Spota said. “The moment that any police are called to a crime scene and they determine it to be a homicide, the prosecutor is called out immediately. They’re right there. And that’s the way we’ve always worked.

“And for me to have to call a prosecutor to answer a question from somebody in the media, that we now have a different theory, it’s disturbing. It really truly is disturbing.”

The legislative hearing of the criminal justice committee took place days after police found another set of remains that they believe are the corpse of Shannan Gilbert, the prostitute whose disappearance spurred the search.

An officer and his cadaver dog were searching along Ocean Parkway last December when they happened upon the first skeletal remains. Two days later, three more bodies were found. By April, the body count had risen to 10. Police have not identified any suspects.

Investigators have said they think Gilbert’s death is probably unrelated to the other deaths. She vanished into a wetland after fleeing a client’s home in a panic, for a reason that is still unclear.

Dormer said the skeletal remains discovered this week were in a location that suggested that Gilbert became exhausted and drowned while trying to force her way through the marshy thicket to a nearby road. He said unlike the other remains, which were dumped from the nearby roadway, there would have been no way for someone to leave Gilbert’s remains where they were found because of the daunting thicket and underbrush. 


Not sure what I think. The dismemberment of some while wrapping others in burlap bags does seem like a jump in ritual but it is not impossible for a serial killer to do that.

That also makes me wonder if the NJ victims are not once again possibly linked into these bodies.

It is so hard to make a firm opinion considering the lack of so much information and so many details.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 464 other followers

%d bloggers like this: