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tv   Sex Slaves The Deadly Game  MSNBC  April 21, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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on the streets of detroit someone is hunting and killing young women two at a time. >> we have four homicides, of which a serial pattern is developing. >> the first set of women were found on december 19th, dead in the trunk of a car on promenade street. >> it was extremely brutal. >> i'm just tired of us losing our children. >> lurking in the online ads for sex. >> is this kim? >> and luring the unsuspecting to a rendezvous with death. >> hey, how are you doing? >> while pimps and hustlers sell young women on a promise of protection.
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>> hey, let me holler at you for a minute. >> somebody that's involved in this business should be able to protect anybody that gets down with them. >> they're not protectors. they're exploiters. >> they were selling my granddaughter. >> and whenever something goes bad or goes wrong, they're going to abandon you. >> msnbc goes undercover for a closer look at life and death in the deadly game of sex for sale. >> people are closing their eyes. open your eyes. before it's your child. ♪ today in detroit on street corners and on the internet, selling sex to strangers has become a deadly proposition. >> recently there have been two separate incidences where two
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young ladies in each incident have been discovered deceased in vehicles on the east side of detroit. >> we have four homicides of which a serial pattern is developing. >> the first set of women were found on december 19th, dead in the trunk of a car on promenade street on detroit's east side. investigators now believe three of the victims may have met their killer online in the adult services section of the website >> this tie for us is disconcerting. >> it's alarming. and obviously, women in the city of detroit, you know, were very concerned. >> the murders are a brutal reminder of the constant danger and fear that stalks girls and young women every single day they work in the underground sex trade. >> this is a dangerous proposition. there's no way to tell who you're dealing with, what their motives may be, and the ultimate risk could be loss of life. >> given the sometimes deadly
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nature of the game, it's not surprising that some young women might feel the need to turn to characters like this for protection. >> most people refer to me as either master mico or machete. and i feel somebody that's involved in this business should be able to protect anybody that's down with them. >> meet mitchell braddock, also known as mico. he's a 45-year-old ex-con who did ten years in a michigan state penitentiary for robbery and assault. >> so i feel people that are weak and not in shape and can't protect their girls shouldn't be in this business. >> front side. he's got the money. white male, black top. keep an eye on him. >> we first met mico in 2010. >> step out. >> hands up. hands up. >> when he was arrested by michigan's human trafficking task force for pimping out a 19-year-old woman named heather giardan. >> my god!
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>> get your shirt on. >> also known to police as lil' barbie. >> please. i didn't do anything. >> put your pants on. >> let me put my clothes on. >> at the time mico rejected the pimp label, choosing instead to describe himself as a bodyguard and chauffeur, offering guidance and protection to women working in the sex trade. >> i've never had one girl ever been hurt being with me. not one. you guys look at it differently, but i truly believe that i'm doing a good deed by protecting them. technically, okay, i can see what you're saying. well, you're contributing to the problem by driving them on calls, this and that. and i understand where you're coming from if you look at that view. but i kind of think -- i look at it kind of like i'm protecting them and doing a good deed because a lot of these girls only -- no one looks out for them. >> he's just like every other pimp. >> the police are not impressed by mico's guardian angel routine. as far as they're concerned, a pimp is a pimp.
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with mico as our guide, we decided to see what we could learn about the sex trade from the inside. >> kind of like in a jungle, whoever is the biggest and baddest lion kind of keeps the balance. >> on a miserable winter night in detroit, mico drives us down a stretch of his turf, where the city's hardcore prostitutes work. >> everyone knows in the detroit area go to 8 mile. >> despite the nasty weather our tour guide predicts there will be women out working the streets. >> i'd be really surprised if we don't see a couple because like i said, this is the main stroll for people that know that any girl, any type of shape, figure, or look, can come on 8 mile usually, 24/7, and get action, or you know, make some money. >> mico spots a young woman who appears to be working near a gas station. >> hey, how are you doing?
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>> but she is understandably spooked by our cameras. >> i think she was a little gun-shy about getting filmed. >> a quick turn off 8 mile and onto john r. street puts us in the middle of another hot spot. >> this is the john r. stroll. on your average night there's usually like starting at 8 mile you'll see one or two girls at the gas station, one at the party store. i see a couple crack dealers. a lot of dope houses down here. a lot of girls hang out in dope houses. >> how are you doing? nice boots. >> nice boots. nice tits. nice ass too. >> is that a guy or a girl? >> in the dark, it's unclear if this person is male or female or possibly both. >> how much tonight? >> either way, he or she appears to be quite cold and desperate to make a quick 20 bucks. >> i'm freezing. >> have a good night. >> can i get a ride? >> she wants a ride. >> the majority of dates on the stroll are oral sex dates.
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however, that's not to say there isn't any sex. i mean intercourse. but the majority is oral sex. >> just a few minutes later, mico spots another woman out in the cold working the corner. >> hey, what's up? how are you doing? hey, let me holler at you for a minute. are you all right? >> up close even mico's a bit surprised by the woman's advanced age and apparent mental condition. >> okay. all right. >> that girl to me looked to be about 50-something. usually, a lot of the ones that are on the street at that age, they usually aren't playing with a full deck, for lack of a better term. either they have extreme, you know, drug addiction or mental illness. >> it's hard to imagine a more dismal stretch of concrete than detroit's john r. stroll on a cold winter night. this is in every imaginable way a road to nowhere.
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>> very few girls. i mean, there are very, very few stay on top. most of them end up addicted to drugs and kind of in a constant emotional state of turmoil and distress. >> coming up, the strange tao of master mico. is he a pimp or a prophet? >> i try to show those that are lost. i try to guide them back into the light. aaah! aaaaah! theres a guy on the window! do something, dad! aaaah! aaaah! what is happening? they're rate suckers. their bad driving makes car insurance more expensive for the rest of us. good thing there's snapshot from progressive. snap it in and get a discount based on your good driving.
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step out. >> hands up. hands up. >> in a motel on the edge of detroit police make a routine bust for prostitution. >> my god! >> get your shirt on. >> and ex-con mitchell braddock, aka mico, is cuffed on suspicion
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of pimping. >> technically, i feel i'm doing a good thing by protecting someone. >> but mico doesn't see himself as a pimp so much as a protector and guardian angel to lost and wayward souls. >> because i'm more -- ever since i experienced the prison experience, since i've been out, i've been totally on a spiritual path. >> yeah, i kind of see myself as like the kwai chang caine of the adult entertainment industry. if you know who that is, that was a kung fu master from the series back in the '70s. i try to show those that are lost, i try to guide them back into the light. i try to teach them martial arts and transcendental meditation, yoga and stuff like that. any girl i'm associated with, i try to build them up. i want them to feel strong. i want them to feel empowered, you know.
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i want them to eventually do something else, go to school. but i think they need someone like me currently to show them the way. >> the saga of master mico began on detroit's east side back in the 1980s. as a teenager into boxing and the martial arts, mico hung around the gyms where local pimps and players would work out and talk shop. >> i started in this business at a real young age. i started bouncing and stuff like that for bachelor parties. got to know a lot of the girls. and one thing led to another. >> at six feet and 220 pounds, mico made a living with his fists as a bouncer, enforcer, and debt collector. until one day in 1991, when he got a little too rough with a debtor and knocked himself right into the state penitentiary. >> i went to prison because an individual was disrespecting one of my relatives on a gambling
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debt and he didn't want to pay and he got kidnapped, beat, and robbed. >> mico did nine years for the kidnapping, robbery, and assault. but upon parole he found himself drifting back into detroit's underworld and his familiar role as muscle for hire. >> basically, when i was at the halfway house, i would visit a lot of strip clubs, and i ran into a lot of people, you know, from the past and stuff like that. and you know, one thing led to another, and i started with this girl candy. she wanted me as a bodyguard because she was having some problem with these bikers. and one thing led to another. >> today mico says he works with half a dozen young women, offering protection in exchange for a percentage of the money they earn from dates and dancing in clubs. but based on his own definition, he insists he is not a pimp. >> i don't ever encourage girls to get into the business.
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only if they come to me and they've already been in the business and they're totally made up their mind, hey, this is what i'm going to do, this is it, right now this is what i'm doing in my life, then i will take a person like that on. but i will never turn somebody out. >> there you go. >> what's going on? >> but mico's self-portrait doesn't square with the account given by heather giardan. >> we're going to sit down and talk, all right? >> all right. >> the young woman he was working with when they both were arrested in the prostitution sting in 2010. >> how much do you get to keep? >> it's a family concept. i just give it all to him. >> he keeps everything? >> i never see any money. ever. if i ask for some money, he'll give me something like $5. >> he won't give you like $100. >> he won't give me enough to run away with, basically. >> okay.
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>> a bitch of mine shall not keep a dime. that's the pimp rules. no bitch shall keep a dime. >> heather tells police she tried to run away from mico but he tracked her down and pulled her back into the game. >> he don't hurt you unless you mess up. >> what do you define as messing up? >> by not listening. >> so if you don't listen to what he says -- >> you get hurt bad. >> okay. >> so you have to obey. especially a girl my size. >> as in all such cases, police made a conscientious effort to get heather away from mico and into a shelter. >> if you want out, if you want us to get you into a shelter, get you in a program to get you out of this life, we can. okay? >> am i being charged with anything tonight? >> no. okay? but we want to make sure you're safe. >> yeah. >> this is your choice, heather, okay? >> but as is often the case, the young woman declined, choosing instead to take her chances with the man who says he's her protector. >> if these people are victims,
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then why don't they leave the situation they're in? >> i think we're putting the spotlight on the wrong person when we expect victims to self-identify. it's very hard to leave a situation of human trafficking. sometimes it's because people are literally behind locked doors. but more often it involves psychological coercion. >> okay. thanks. >> it doesn't take handcuffs to keep someone enslaved. >> is he your pimp or is he your boyfriend? >> he's my boyfriend. he's not my pimp. >> but you wrote him letters, you call him daddy. >> yeah. because he's like a father to me, takes care of me. >> at least for tonight it seems that no one has a better understanding of what motivates heather than the man who has made his living in the dark shadows of detroit's underworld, the man they call mico, the man they call machete.
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>> i think it has to do with eventually familiarity, and i think a lot of them get so used to getting beat that if they're not getting beat they feel unloved. i think a lot of them relate abuse to love. the attitude is, well, he must love me or he wouldn't beat me. as sick as that sounds. >> they're not protectors. they are exploiters. and whenever something goes bad or goes wrong, they're going to abandon you. on an ancient burial ground. [ ghosts moaning ] surprise -- your car needs a new transmission. [ coyote howls ] how about no more surprises? now you can get all the online trading tools you need without any surprise fees. ♪ it's not rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade.
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no they don't. hey son. have fun tonight. ♪ ♪ back against the wall ♪ ain't nothin to me ♪ ain't nothin to me [ crowd murmurs ] hey! ♪ [ howls ] ♪
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hey, what's up? how are you doing? hey, let me holler at you for a minute. >> while men like mico might sells girls on the notion of protection, law enforcement says it's often an empty promise. >> they are not protectors. they are exploiters. they are using you for your body to make them money.
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and whenever something goes bad or goes wrong, they're going to abandon you. >> being trafficked, especially as a juvenile, is an increasingly risky business where young women can fall prey to the violent and the depraved. >> i'll be the first one to say i never thought it could happen. until it hits you on your doorstep. and then it's too late. your world is shattered. >> no one understands the allure of a pimp disguised as boyfriend better than pamela hahn. instead of enjoying her golden years, she and her husband are haunted by what happened to their granddaughter five years ago. >> people are closing their eyes and think that it's not the stone age, that's not happening. yes, it is. open your eyes before it's your child. >> 16-year-old kathleen hahn, known as jasmine to her family, came to live with her grandparents as a toddler. they were the only parents she knew. >> i was her grandmother, but i
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raised her just like mine. i couldn't have loved her any more if i did give birth to her. >> was that necklace hard work? >> no. >> no? who are you making it for? >> for you. >> for me? oh, isn't that nice. >> jasmine was raised in a house of southern manners and strict standards. the hahns wanted to ensure that their granddaughter, an honor student and tomboy, received everything she needed to realize her dream of becoming a veterinarian. >> she wanted to help any animal, big or small, daddy long legs, don't kill it, she'll put it outside. >> at age 12 jasmine suffered a huge emotional jolt when her beloved uncle ernie died suddenly from leukemia. grieving and vulnerable, it was then her family says that jasmine fell prey to a troubled neighborhood girl named danielle. >> i felt bad because the little girl had had a rough life, you know.
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so i told jas to let her come over, be friends with her. she may need you, you know, to be there for her. >> but pamela had no way of knowing that danielle had an older boyfriend who was selling danielle for sex. >> and that's where i made my mistake. because that little girl is the one that talked my granddaughter into running away for the first time. and she was never the same after that. >> jasmine would run away for days at a time, leaving her grandparents worried and bewildered. one day, after being gone for nearly a week, a distraught jasmine called her grandmother. she begged to be picked up. it was then that pamela says she knew she had to take extreme measures to keep jasmine safe from danielle and her pimp boyfriend. she committed jasmine to a children's home for ten months
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where with counseling the young teen seemed to pull her life back together. she went back to being a good student and working as a waitress. but pamela says danielle's boyfriend, a man she knew only as g, would not leave her granddaughter alone. >> they were demanding me to put jasmine on the phone. and i -- no. they were cussing me out and calling me all kinds of names, and telling me, you don't know what we can do to you. and i said, you know, i'm an adult. she's a child. do it to me. you know? and when i told jasmine what i had done, argued on the phone with these people, tears came down her face and she said, "nana, you don't know what you've done." >> while jasmine feared the threats against her grandmother's life, pamela remained unbowed until one day g appeared on her doorstep. >> this man had to be in his 30s at least. and he said, "i'm looking for jasmine."
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i said, "who are you?" and he said his name. i said, "oh. really?" i said, "the southfield police department wants to talk to you." >> g beat a hasty retreat that night. but his house call had the desired effect of terrifying young jasmine. >> it was to let her know he can come to her door anytime. he knows where she lives. and nobody could stop him. >> unable to coax jasmine from her grandparents' home, the pimp set his sights on the restaurant where she worked. that's where the teen was headed the day she walked out of her grandmother's front door for the last time. >> gave me a hug, out the door. and i'd always watch her. and she got to the middle of the driveway. she turned around and looked at me. she says, "i love you, nana." i said, "i love you, too, baby." and that was our last conversation.
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>> that night, coworkers said a man drove up to the restaurant and ushered jasmine out the back door while her grandfather waited out front. >> so i had to call my husband and tell him they've got jasmine again. >> pamela hahn reported her granddaughter missing but heard nothing for six weeks. then on the morning of february 3rd, 2007, police and firefighters in the neighboring town of dearborn heights made a gruesome discovery. >> oh, it was extremely brutal. it was probably the worst homicide our city's ever seen. >> sergeant phil wengroski responded to an urgent radio call for a detective. >> as soon as i arrived, they pointed out a deceased female that was on like a back porch area. so i went over there and looked at her and, you know, her body was basically like decimated. >> police identified the body as that of missing teenager kathleen jasmine hahn. her grandparents are called to the station to confirm the i.d.
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>> they said that she was held against her will in this apartment and that she had been raped and beaten and stabbed and thrown over a second-floor balcony in a snow bank naked, nude. and he had used two knives on her. he almost cut her in half. >> it does not get any worse than what happened to this young woman. >> they were selling my granddaughter, and nothing was done about it. [ male announcer ] in your lifetime,
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hello. i'm milissa rehberger. a 5.9 magnitude earthquake has struck near the coast of mexico. it shook buildings in mexico city sending residents running. so far no reports of damage or
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injuries. charges may be filed tomorrow against the 19-year-old suspect in the boston marathon bombings. he's said to be in serious condition with a neck wound that is preventing him from speaking with interrogators. hundreds of volunteers are preparing sandbags to battle flooding in the midwest. now back to "msnbc undercover." for six weeks high school sophomore jasmine hahn was missing, but her family's search ended in tragedy when a battered body was found dumped in the snow only six miles from her home. >> to see a body in that condition was pretty bad. her torso was basically cut in half. >> with some 20 years on the job, sergeant phil wengroski says the crime scene was the most brutal he's ever encountered.
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>> there were bite marks on her. the type of lacerations that she sustained were indicative of possible torture. so prior to death she was tortured with a knife. she was bit. you name it. >> police say jasmine was tortured and murdered here in this second-floor bedroom and that the killer made a failed attempt to cut her in half. he then threw her out the window, set the bedroom on fire, and fled. >> he couldn't pick her up because her torso was almost chopped in half. so he just left her on the cement patio there and took off. >> detectives quickly learn that the apartment is being rented to a 23-year-old construction worker named ebijmenio gomez. within hours of the murder a drunken gomez is apprehended by michigan state police when he crashes his car in the freeway median 130 miles west of
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detroit. >> the forensic evidence just continued to grow. it was overwhelming. >> police discover a tide of physical evidence linking gomez to the murder. his dna in the victim's body. his fingerprints on the murder weapon. his clothes soaked in jasmine's blood. >> it does not get any worse than what happened to this young woman. >> the job of prosecuting gomez fell to assistant district attorney carin goldfarb. forensic evidence showed that jasmine's death did not come quickly. >> she suffered. she was tortured. she was stabbed multiple times before she was fatally strangled and stabbed. so she was tortured with the knife. small stab wounds all across her throat and chest. so many stab wounds that the medical examiner said that he didn't -- couldn't count them
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all. >> but how did the 16-year-old honors student end up being trapped alone by gomez in his apartment? the answer came from two key pieces of evidence. a newspaper classified ad found in the killer's apartment and a fingerprint lifted from a nearby payphone, where someone called 911 on the night of jasmine's murder. the fingerprint belonged to gregory smith, also known as g, the man pamela hahn says threatened her. police say that smith is a known pimp. when questioned, smith claimed he was merely jasmine's driver and that she was willingly selling herself for cash. >> she worked for an entertainment service. i believe it was called the perfect package. and basically, it was like a prostitution service. she would go to various locations, transported by i guess you could say a pimp, where he would transport her,
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drop her off. he would just kind of hang out, watch, wait, transport her back and make sure that she contained the money. and business would go on. >> smith told police that he and his brother drove jasmine to gomez's apartment on the night of her murder. gomez had found jasmine through an ad in the paper. crystal manuel, a prostitute and the mother of smith's children, admitted she had brokered the deal. gomez agreed to pay $190 for an hour with the teen. >> she said that jasmine made the decision, that she asked to go, that they didn't know that she was 16. >> smith testified that at 11:00 p.m. the night of the murder he walked jasmine to gomez's apartment and waited in the car. when jasmine didn't come out, the pimp told police he called her phone 50 to 100 times with
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no answer. eventually, he banged on the door, and when gomez refused to answer he drove to a nearby pay phone to call police. goldfarb says the notion that pimps provide useful protection is patently false. the girls being sold take all the risk. >> there's no way of protecting someone from murder when they go in alone. sitting outside in the car is not going to protect someone from violence of any kind, let alone a murder with a weapon. >> at gomez's trial gregory smith, the pimp, and crystal manuel testified against gomez. their testimony helped to convict the killer, who received life in prison for murder. but today jasmine's family is still outraged at the portrayal of their daughter as a willing prostitute. >> how can a 16-year-old work for an escort company?
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this is a child. she wouldn't have done that on her own. i know that. because she had too much pride and respect for herself. >> at the end of the day you have to remember, the perpetrators are adults. the victims are children. >> human trafficking expert bridgette carr says girls who have been labeled escorts or prostitutes suddenly lose all sympathy from the public and oftentimes law enforcement. >> we will often say that a child cannot consent to sex at a certain age and therefore if you have sex with them it's statutory rape. but for some reason if we lay a 20 on the night stand, that child has choice and that child is a criminal. you know, it astounds me that laying a $20 bill on the nightstand changes the ability of a child to be able to choose whether this act happens. >> despite gomez's conviction and life sentence, pamela hahn says justice for jasmine has not been served because the pimp,
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smith, and his accomplices were never charged. >> they were selling my granddaughter. and nothing was done about it. >> she says that the people truly responsible for jasmine's death still roam the streets. >> the ones that took her there, the ones that took her out of the car, the ones that drove her there, the ones that supposedly called the police. yes. they are responsible for my granddaughter's death. >> the victims were identified as black females ages 23 and 24. >> coming up, the game gets even deadlier in detroit as a serial killer stalks young women. >> this is a dangerous proposition. the ultimate risk could be loss of life. creamy peanut butter, and a rich dark-chocolate flavor, plus 10 grams of protein, so it's energy straight from nature to you. nature valley protein bars.
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the week before christmas 2011, 23-year-old demesha hunt and her 24-year-old cousin renisha landers went out for a little holiday cheer. when they didn't return home, their mothers, like pamela hahn, began to worry a lot. >> she was very much loved by her family, her friends. >> very sensitive. you know, like i say, loved her family. loved her mother. >> demesha and renisha were not just cousins but best friends. a pair of happy girls who lived at home and were almost like two sides of the same coin. >> they were on the same page. they were just alike because they liked being with each other.
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they didn't consider each other cousins. they considered each other sisters. >> as the new year approached, the young women's lives were looking up. demesha was the proud mother of a baby girl. and renisha's job on the line at chrysler helped her save enough money for a down payment on a chrysler 300. >> she said to me, mom, this is a good year coming for us, 2012. she was mentioning 2012. she said, this is going to be a good year for us. >> december 17th, 2011 was a saturday night. the young women decided to go out on the town with some girlfriends. >> i watched her get ready and, you know, did her hair and found her an outfit. and she just looked so pretty to me. >> i guess we said, "i'll see you later," and that was the last time i saw her. >> the following morning denise and chikita awakened to empty beds in their daughters' rooms and a bad feeling in their stomachs. >> sunday morning when i didn't hear from her, when it got like
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10:00 or 11:00, that was just too unusual. >> and we don't know why. they're not calling. they're not answering their phones. >> on sunday afternoon the mothers notified police that their daughters were missing. the following day chikita feared the worst when her daughter renisha failed to show up for work. >> her job that she was so very proud of, she wasn't going to miss work. that's when i knew for sure that something was wrong, because she's not going to miss work. >> meanwhile, on the down and out streets of detroit's east side, a boy spots a late-model chrysler backed into the driveway of an abandoned home. curious, the teen moves in for a closer look. >> to see this newer-model vehicle in a driveway backed in, it was out of place. as the young person approached the vehicle, the trunk was slightly ajar, and the young person made the discovery, and the police were called right
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away. >> the first set of women were found on december 19th, dead in the trunk of a car on promenade street on detroit's east side. >> the girls' families worst fears became reality when the 6:00 news broadcast details of the boy's terrible discovery. >> they said that they found two girls in the trunk of a 300. and i just started screaming and hollering. >> oh, my goodness. that could possibly be them. it was like that was them. because that was the car and it was two girls. and we hadn't heard from them. so it was like, it's them. >> detroit police begin the search for clues. what they find at the crime scene is somewhat unusual. >> at first blush, there were no obvious signs of trauma to either body. the entire vehicle and bodies were removed and taken to the wayne county medical examiner's office. and upon further review confirmed what we were able to see visually, that there was absolutely no trauma to either
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of the young ladies' bodies. >> with no indications of gunshot or stab wounds nor evidence of strangulation or suffocation, police suspect the women may have been killed by a lethal dose of a tranquilizing drug, perhaps laced into their drinks. then just one week later and only two blocks away police are called to an almost identical crime scene. this time the victims are 28-year-old bernethia mccrary and 29-year-old natasha curtis. two more young women apparently killed in the same manner but this time left in the trunk of a car set ablaze. >> when you take a look at that situation, very quickly we decided that this was very potentially a serial case. >> chief godbee is very careful to point out that the toxicology reports have yet to confirm what seasoned cops already suspect. a serial killer is on the loose
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in detroit, hunting and killing young women two at a time. >> when you add to that there was a connection between three of the four deceased to a website called, the a-ha moment came very quickly in our investigation. >> recently there have been two separate incidences -- >> on december 26th chief godbee calls a press conference to alert the public to the clear and present danger of what the local media have now dubbed the backpage killer. >> there is an immediate danger. there is a person that's potentially preying on women of a specific age in their early 20s that have utilized or maybe other similar websites. >> this tie for us is disconcerting. >> it would have been irresponsible for us to have that information, take a chance
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on another young lady losing their life in similar fashion. that was a tough call, but i made a decision that we were going to go public. >> the story receives national attention but leaves the victims' families upset by the implication that their daughters may have been selling sex online. >> they were not prostitutes. they were not prostitutes. >> coming up, a closer look at the facts and a grieving family's desperate plea for justice. >> somebody knows something. i'm just tired of us losing our children. i'm tired. [ both ] ugh! when it came to our plants... we were so confused. how much is too much water? too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. yeah, they're bigger and more beautiful. guaranteed. in pots. in the ground. in a ukulele. are you kidding me? that was my idea.
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in a cemetery on detroit's west side, two women struggle with tragedy. lying side by side are the bodies of their beloved daughters, demesha hunt and
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renisha landers. they were cousins, best friends, and now victims of what detroit police believe to be a serial killer. >> i wouldn't wish it on anyone. i wouldn't wish that they feel this pain. >> she meant everything in this world to me. everything in this world to me. >> why? why? they wasn't a threat to anyone. so how could you do something like this? >> one week later police say the killer struck again, claiming two more women and spreading fear in the streets of detroit. >> it's alarming, and obviously women in the city of detroit were very concerned. are these random acts?
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is it someone just snatching people off of the street? >> investigators discover a crucial circumstantial link between the two cases. three of the four victims had posted profiles online in the adult services section of the classified ad website >> when there was a definitive tie to, and adult escort services, from a serial pattern standpoint it helped us to understand who the targets are. >> this tie for us is disconcerting. >> the backpage connection helps police focus their investigation, but it also riles the victims' families, who bristle at the implication that their daughters may have been selling sex online. >> they were not prostitutes. they were not prostitutes. >> they were young girls that had goals in life. my daughter was a mother. my niece worked. and they just wanted to go out and have a good time like most young girls do. >> in fact, there is no backpage
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link to demesha hunt. and chikita reminds us that her daughter renisha came from a solid family, had a well-paying job at chrysler, and no logical reason to sell her body for cash. >> they have a very large family. everybody helps everybody. if either one of them needed anything, they could have gotten it. >> but as far as them meeting with someone on an escort to get a couple of dollars, no, i don't believe that at all. >> but police say renisha landers and the other two women found a week later were posting ads on backpage. >> it's prostitution. and you know, not to cast any aspersions on the deceased. that is no reason for anyone to lose their life. that is no reason for any deviant individual to be able to
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manipulate a system and hurt someone who does not deserve to die. so i just wanted to be very clear, when we came public, especially to the families of the deceased, we were not passing any kind of character assessment or moral assessment on their loved one, but given the nature of the business that was being conducted on backpage, like i said, it would have been unconscionable for us not to go public with what we knew. >> in may 2012 their hard work pays off. police arrest 24-year-old james brown in the detroit suburb of sterling heights. brown is held for several months on charges of arson and mutilation of a dead body. in november 2012 he's formally charged with four counts of first-degree murder. brown pleads not guilty and is currently awaiting trial. the case in detroit and a similar string of online escort
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murders in long island have reignited a national debate about the role of ad-based websites like backpage and redbook in facilitating the business of human trafficking. >> regardless of the disclaimers, regardless of the legalese that these sites hide behind, the reality is the resultant behavior is illegal. >> while many men view the smiling women in online sex ads as independent contractors selling their wares, bridgette carr says americans need to wake up and face reality. >> what do you see when you see a young teenager advertising online? >> i see what really happens in the background, which is the abuse, the exploitation, the violence. we unfortunately in america have a conversation around the pimping culture as if it's glamorous and fun. if we really understood what it's like for girls and boys in these situations, we would never describe it as glamorous or fun. >> i think the internet has ruined the game. >> even master mico, the old school hustler from detroit,
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says the boom of online ads has made the game more risky for everyone by attracting more wannabe pimps, more deviant customers, and ever younger girls with absolutely no street savvy. >> i think there's a tendency now for little susie in the suburbs at 16 years old, she's online, oh, what's this, backpage, those girls look kind of cute. she has low self-esteem. she thinks that maybe she could, you know, fit in somewhere. next thing you know, hey, you want to make this money, blah, blah, blah. and a lot of them guys will tell them, oh, you're so pretty. and they use that sweetheart angle, that love angle on them. and next thing you know, she thinks this guy loves her and she's doing dates out of a hotel room. >> for now, police nationwide just want the public to be aware of the very real dangers that lurk among the online ads for sex where the simple click of a
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mouse can sometimes bring a rendezvous with death. >> this is a dangerous proposition. there is no screening. there is no way to tell who you're dealing with, what their motives may be. and i would just make a very impassioned plea to anybody who feels that the allure of a quick buck is worth the risk. the ultimate risk could be loss of life. >> regardless of the circumstances, four young women have been brutally murdered, leaving their families torn apart with grief. >> i just want them to know that my daughter was someone. she was someone very special. especially to me. >> i'm just tired of us losing our children. i'm tired.


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