A 20-year-old Madison Heights, Michigan, woman has been charged with first degree murder, felony murder, armed robbery and illegal use of a credit card after being accused of killing a man she met on Craigslist.
The Sterling Heights Police Department claims that Bria Corrine-Janelle Blackmon dated and later attempted to rob Michael Scott Freeland, 57, which led to his death.
Police say that Blackmon set fire to Freeland’s house with him still inside – though investigators claim he was dead prior to the fire.
"The motive appears to be robbery,” police Lt. Dave Smith told My Fox Detroit. Police believe that the intention of Blackmon was to murder Freeland, steal his credit cards, and then set the house on fire to cover the crime.
“They collected some information on scene, which along with the autopsy results, indicated this was not a natural death and he did not die from smoke inhalation,” Smith said.
“From our perspective, when we found the body, it appeared to be accidental, that the homeowner may have succumbed to smoke,” said Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin. “But once the arson investigators started their work, they found there circumstances not consistent with what we originally had believed.”
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said the following in a news release in which he announced the charges:
“Sadly, the dangers affiliated in conducting business with a complete stranger through Craig’s List has resulted in another tragic loss of life.
“My office will take every step necessary to bring justice to the family of Michael Freeland.”
Police are still investigating whether another person was involved.
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