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Man charged with Backpage murders bound over for trial

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By Amy Lange
Fox 2 News


STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) -- Detroit Police Detective Derryck Thomas interviewed James Brown, the 24-year-old from Sterling Heights charged with the Backpage murders.

Four women were killed in December 2011.  Three of the four had advertised as escorts on Backpage.com.

Detective Thomas explained to the court that Brown told him Demesha Hunt and Renesha Landers came to his Sterling Heights home in December 2011.  They partied.  He said he passed out and the women were unresponsive when he woke up.

Thomas testified Brown said he was too scared to call 9-1-1, so he dumped the bodies.

"He said he backed the car up that the two girls came in into the garage and loaded the two ladies into the trunk of the vehicle," said Thomas.

A car he allegedly abandoned on Detroit's east side, then walked to his mother's church and got a ride home with her.

Less than a week later, the bodies of Natasha Curtis and Vernithia McCrary were discovered.  This time the car had been set on fire.  Brown allegedly told the detective he stopped for a cup of gasoline before disposing of their bodies.

"He poured the gas on the vehicle, in the vehicle, the trunk area where the two young ladies were and he lit the car on fire," Thomas said.

They were identified through dental records, but for each of the victims, there was no obvious cause of death.  The women are believed to have been smothered.

There was testimony linking blood in Brown's basement and his DNA under the women's fingernails and cell phone records that put the women at Brown's home.

Even though he admitted to disposing of the bodies, he never admitted to the murders.

"Mr. Brown admits to killing any of these four young ladies?" Thomas was asked.

"Killing?  No."

The judge bound Brown over for trial.  His next court date will be later this month.  Meantime, his defense attorney plans to challenge those alleged confessions.

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