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Michigan Man Convicted of Four 'Backpage Murders'

A Michigan jury Friday convicted the so-called Backpage Murderer of killing four women he met through an adult website and stuffing their bodies into car trunks.

Gasps, cheers and sobs erupted in Macomb County Circuit Court in the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens as James C. Brown, 25, was declared guilty of all 10 charges against him — including first-degree murder, arson and disinterment, the Macomb Daily newspaper reported.

Brown, who killed the women in the basement of his home in Sterling Heights in December 2011, faces life without parole at his sentencing April 1.

The homicides became known as the Backpage Murders because Brown met the women — Natasha Curtis, Demesha Hunt, Renisha Landers and Vernithea McCrary, all in their 20s — through backpage.com, an adult classified ad website.

"We are very pleased," McCrary's mother, Denise Higgins, said after the verdicts, according to the Macomb Daily. "It was obvious this guy was guilty. The prosecution had him from day one."

The bodies of Landers and Hunt were found Dec. 19, 2011. Six days later, on Christmas, police found the bodies of Curtis and McCrary burned beyond recognition in a second car.

Therese Tobin, chief trial attorney for the Macomb County prosecutor's office, told jurors Thursday that Brown "did it because he enjoyed it. He did it because he got some thrill out of it."

"He went on with his life like nothing happened," Tobin said in her closing argument. "He opened his presents on Christmas Day."

Medical examiners were never able to pinpoint an exact cause of death, But they said they believed the women were all asphyxiated by Brown, who's nearly 7 feet tall and weighs almost 350 pounds.

— M. Alex Johnson