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Detroit deaths tied by net escort service

Dec. 27, 2011 at 8:12 AM

DETROIT, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Detroit police stopped short of saying a serial killer was targeting escorts after finding a link in the deaths of three of four women this month.

Police said the women, three of whom advertised on Backpage.com, were found in pairs in car trunks, with two bodies discovered Dec. 19 and the second pair found Christmas day, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.

"This tie for us is disconcerting," Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said Monday during a news conference. "We're stopping short of calling it a serial pattern."

Three of the victims were tied to ads on Backpage.com that "specifically dealt with prearranged adult dating services," Godbee said.

Officials said the cause of death has not yet been determined, the Free Press said.

Because of the explosion in use of social media and the Internet, "we must continue to be vigilant in identifying any Web site which may potentially pose a threat to individuals," he said.

Backpage.com is similar to Craigslist.com and offers a variety of goods and services for sale, including ads from Detroit-area escorts.

CNN said in 2010 Backpage.com officials said the site responds quickly to law enforcement inquiries and includes links to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children if potential abuses are found. The site also has links to the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Polaris Project, a program set up to help victims of human trafficking.

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