Three of four women whose dead bodies were found in the trunks of burning cars in Detroit over the past eight days had profiles on the adult services section of Backpage.com, police said today, warning women that the killer may be trolling the site for more victims.
The bodies of two women were found in a burning car on Dec. 19, and then another pair were found on Christmas, police said. They were both found within blocks of one another on the city's east side.
Detroit police chief Ralph Godbee Jr. stopped short of saying the crimes were the work of a serial killer, but said he felt it was important to get the word out about the link investigators had found.
"This tie for us is disconcerting," Godbee Jr. said today at a news conference. "We're stopping short of calling it a serial pattern.
"We are not passing judgment on any individual who is utilizing this website, yet we felt it was imperative to alert the public that deciding to meet unknown persons via the Internet can be extremely dangerous," he said.
Investigators have not determined a cause of death for the four women.
Backpage.com, like craigslist.com, is an Internet bulletin board with listings for everything from child care to auto parts and forums on numerous topics. Craigslist.com stopped carrying adult services ads after several widely publicized cases, including the so-called "Craigslist Killer" case, in which Phillip Markoff was charged with the armed robbery and murder of a masseuse he had hired through the web site, and the armed robbery of two other women he also found through the site. Markoff committed suicide in jail awaiting trial.