Two Detroit women who were abducted last month may have revealed their captors' identities by text-messaging relatives from inside the trunk of a car, as authorities confirmed Monday that their bodies were found in a shallow grave.
Brooke Blackwell, spokeswoman for the Wayne County medical examiner, told The Associated Press the bodies discovered Sunday are Abreeya Brown, 18, and Ashley Conaway, 21. Police were brought to the area after receiving a tip and found them women along the Rouge River.
Witnesses say the two housemates were forced into a car trunk at gunpoint nearly a month ago, and they were found dead Sunday gagged and bound with duct tape. Both were shot in the head, Blackwell said. Their bodies were clothed when they were found.
The cause of death was homicide, Blackwell said.
Brown and Conaway were grabbed Feb. 28 from their front porch by two men who traded bullets with Brown's stepfather before getting away, according to relatives. In what may have been a final, frantic act, Conaway texted relatives an hour later, saying they were trapped in the trunk of a car. They were never seen again.
Relatives said the women named their abductors in the text messages, and police have zeroed in on two men who have been named as persons of interest.
One, Brian Christopher Lee, 24, was to appear Monday morning before Judge Roberta Archer on attempted murder charges from a Feb. 8 incident in which he allegedly shot and wounded Conaway, but that hearing was postponed unti Friday.
Lee, along with Brandon Cain, 26, Conaway's ex-boyfriend and a co-defendant in the Feb. 8 shooting, are persons of interest in the disappearance of the two women.
"We should not lose our daughters to evil and nasty men," Latrina Conaway, mother of Ashley Conaway, told the Detroit News. "Two beautiful young women who never had the opportunity to grow, to have families, to have life. It's just a shame. Everyone should be touched by this traumatic thing.
Outside court on Monday, Conaway's sister, Latrina Conaway, said "it's a sad day, a very sad day.
"Two beautiful young women who (will never have) the opportunity to grow, to have families, to experience life. It's a travesty. It's a shame," she said.
Family members believe the abductions were carried out to prevent the women from testifying about the earlier shooting. According to reports, Brown and Conaway had been offered $5,000 not to testify against Cain in the earlier incident.
Cain and Lee are in custody but have not been formally accused in the women's disappearance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.