MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit-area man has been convicted of killing four women whom he met through online escort ads.
Police say 25-year-old James Brown killed the women in pairs a week apart at his Sterling Heights home. The bodies were stuffed in car trunks and left miles away in a Detroit neighborhood in 2011.
Brown was convicted of four counts of first degree murder, four counts of disinterment and mutilation of a dead body, one count of arson of real property, and one count of arson of personal property in Macomb County court on Friday.
He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Brown acknowledged to police that the women died in his basement and admitted to getting rid of the bodies. But he denied a role in the deaths, instead suggesting it may have been a bad reaction to marijuana.
The bodies of 23-year-old Renisha Landers and 24-year-old Demesha Hunt were found in the trunk of a car left in Detroit in December 2011. Six days later, on Christmas Day, the bodies of 29-year-old Natasha Curtis and 28-year-old Vernithea McCrary were found in a burning car in the same neighborhood.
Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith said Friday’s verdict came as a relief to the victims’ families.
“If this happened one time, maybe you could claim it was an accident of some sort, but when you murder four , four women…two separate, you know…two at a time a week apart and you know, he’s dumping the bodies and calling the next set to come out to his house — he obviously got a thrill out of it,” Smith said.
The victims met Brown through Backpage.com, which carries personal ads for people looking for sex.
Dr. Francisco Diaz, an assistant Wayne County medical examiner, testified that the women died of asphyxiation, a lack of oxygen to the brain. Diaz said it’s possible for someone to be asphyxiated without a struggle, especially if the attacker is larger than the victim. Brown is a large, muscular man who could have killed the women as he sat on them, Diaz said.
Brown will be sentenced mid-April.
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