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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Investigators believe a young Utah woman was slain in California either because of her involvement with prostitution or because she got caught up in a feud among rappers.
Police warned Lee Danae Laursen, a former child care worker from Payson, that the pimps and would-be rappers she associated with were dangerous and they offered her money to return to Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
But she refused the help and was shot to death Nov. 4 in the northern California town of Fairfield.
Fairfield police Sgt. Dan Pitcher said detectives believe the slaying likely stemmed either from her involvement with budding rappers or her work as a prostitute.
If she were killed for her connections to the music world, it would make Laursen the fourth homicide victim in a series of crimes across three states, police said.
"I don't know if she was brainwashed or what. But the lifestyle she ended up involved in was so far removed from the lifestyle she lived in Utah," said Todd Hendrix, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detective investigating two homicides that may be linked to Laursen's.
Laursen, whom friends and family called by her middle name and who used the name Alana while working as a call girl, reportedly went to California with a man she met in a club in Salt Lake City. Police say that man was Jason Mathis, who is being held in Las Vegas in two slayings there.
Authorities also were investigating whether the Las Vegas slayings in May of rapper Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins, 24, and his friend Jermaine "Cowboy" Akins, 22, were part of a battle between Midwest and West Coast rappers and linked with the slaying in Kansas City of California rapper Andre "Mac Dre" Hicks, 34.
On April 25, Laursen's father contacted Payson police, saying his daughter was being held against her will in Las Vegas and being forced to work as a prostitute, the Tribune said.
A police report said Laursen told her father that one of the men was Mathis.
The next day, according to the report, the father told Payson police that he had his daughter and was heading back to Payson.
Laursen soon left Utah again.
A car belonging to Laursen was reportedly seen frequently at Mathis' home, and police began looking for her.
Police found Laursen July 15 in San Francisco, and Hendrix's partner and a sergeant went there to interview her. Laursen would not answer questions and was defiant, Hendrix said. The investigators offered to pay for Laursen's return to Utah.
"It was explained to her that she could be in danger and the situation she was in could result in harm coming to her, and she didn't want to hear it," Hendrix said.
On Nov. 2, a grand jury in Las Vegas charged Mathis and Andre "Mac Minister" Dow, 34, both described as aspiring rappers or rap promoters, with murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder in the killings of Watkins and Akins.
Mathis is in jail awaiting trial. Dow remains at large.
On Nov. 4, Laursen's neighbors in Fairfield reported hearing four or five gunshots, and a jogger found Laursen in a gutter, Pilcher said.
Pilcher said there was information that Laursen might have been with Dow a few hours before she died.
Investigators found Laursen's cell phone and were fielding calls from people asking for "Alana," the name she posted in an escort advertisement on the Internet, the Tribune said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)