On Jan. 17, 2012 news about yet another Detroit woman’s murder began making headlines when it was learned that she, too, had been at the Blackberry Bar and Grill, where two other women in their 20’s had last been known to be before being found dead on Detroit’s east side of town.
Claudia Benson, 21, was shot outside the Grand River bar early in the morning on Saturday, Jan. 14 and died after a man wielding a gun took the Oakland County Community College student’s purse.
Benson now joins Demesha Hunt, 24, and her cousin Renisha Landers, 23, as being patrons of the Blackberry Bar prior to their deaths. But Benson’s killer shot her to death instead of putting her body in the trunk of a car, as happened in the Detroit car trunk murders.
The bodies of Hunt and Landers were discovered in the trunk of Landers’ Chrysler 300 on Detroit’s Promenade on Dec. 19 after an alleged stop at Blackberry first.
Backpage link now joined by Blackberry Bar and Grill?
NCWN reported previously that Detroit law enforcement investigators had previously felt a tie might exist between the trunk car murders plaquing the city (Hunt, Landers, McCrary and Curtis) and Backpage.com, where adult ads had been placed by 3 of the 4 victims. It is unknown, however, if Claudia Benson, the most recent victim, has such a tie to the online site.
But it now appears that Blackberry Bar could be a link to the Detroit car trunk murders occuring to women in their 20s. Of the 19 murders that have taken place in Detroit thus far this year, 1 of the victims has been a patron to the establishment where 2 other women frequented before their deaths in December.
The two other women who were found on Detroit’s east side, blocks away from where Hunt and Landers’ bodies were found–and also placed in the trunk of a car–are Vernithea McCrary, 28, and Natasha Curtis, 29. Both women were burned beyond recognition by their killer(s). But it is not known if these two women frequented Blackberry or not in the past.
The crime characteristics are vastly different in each of the three murders of women in their 20s in Detroit:
- 2 were burned beyond recognition
- 1 was shot and
- 2 others were left for dead with no obvious sign of how they died
But there are several commonalities between the five murders, too:
- Each woman was in her 20s
- Four were found in car trunks
- Each either visited Blackberry Bar and Grill prior to her death and/or posted an ad on Backpage.com.
In addition, two of the victims (one from each of the two separate trunk car murder scenes) were known to be about to celebrate a birthday. It is unknown, however, if Claudia Benson was about to celebrate a birthday or not.
Despite the birthday angle, which could somehow connect the victims to their killer–or the Blackberry Bar in Detroit–police cannot rule out a potential Blackberry Bar and Grill killer connection to Benson’s murder or that of these other female murder victim in Detroit.
References: My Fox Detroit, NCWN