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10 Bodies Later, Police Face Tough Questions in Sowell Case

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

After serving 15 years in jail for the rape of a 21 year-old female back in 1989, it seems that Anthony Sowell didn’t learn anything when he was released from prison in 2005 except how to kill innocent victims.  And now, after finding ten bodies and one skull in Sowell’s Cleveland home, questions are being raised not at Sowell but at police.

After being released from prison in 2005, Sowell moved into a 3-story house in southeast Cleveland, which he shared with his mother.  A registered sex offender, Sowell was required to check in regularly at the sheriff’s office, and while officers didn’t have the right to enter Sowell’s house, they would occasionally stop by to make sure that he was there.  If you could get past the awful stench that permeated throughout the entire neighborhood, things seemed otherwise quiet and relatively normal…that is, until a woman went to police in late September 2009 to report that she had been raped by Sowell in his home.  Ironically, the last time that police had stopped by to “check up” on Sowell was just hours before the rape was reported.

When police went back with a search warrant and entered Sowell’s home on October 29th, they were surprised to discover six decomposing bodies.  According to Lieutenant Thomas Stacho, one body was found in a shallow grave in the backyard, one body was found in the basement, two bodies were found in a third floor living room, and two bodies were located in an upstairs crawl space.  All of the bodies were identified as black females who had been strangled to death. Police located Sowell approximately one mile from his home on October 31st and immediately arrested him.

According to Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office, the bodies that were found could have been dead for a matter of months or possibly years.  It will take them time to figure out the identities of some of the victims due to how badly decomposed the bodies are.  Additionally, since the first six bodies were discovered, an additional four have also been found, leading investigators to believe that the total count of victims may not be over just yet.

The bigger question on everyone’s minds, however, is “How is it that police didn’t do something about this earlier, especially when neighbors in the area had been complaining about a foul odor?”

Records show that city councilman, Zack Reed had called the city health department back in 2007 after a resident in Sowell’s neighborhood told him about an odor that “smelled like a dead body”.  For a while, residents thought that the abhorrent odor was coming from a local sausage and head cheese factory named Ray’s Sausage.  Renee Cash, whose family has owned Ray’s Sausage for over 50 years, said that the smell was even offensive to them.  Suspecting that perhaps they were the cause of the odor, they had both their sewer lines and grease traps replaced.  But the smell was still there.

Too Little; Too Late?

The recent charges against Sowell come after years of complaints about Sowell’s frequent attacks on women.  The owner of a local business located just across the street from Sowell’s house, Fawcett Bess, claims that he found Mr. Sowell in the bushes just outside of his home, naked and standing over a woman who was bloodied, beaten and also naked.  Mr. Bess called 911, and an ambulance came to take the woman away.  However, when police showed up over an hour later, they never interviewed Sowell.

The lack of investigation into Sowell is quickly taking center stage as more bodies are being discovered and more questions are being left unanswered.  Had it not been for the recent rape accusation, would police have ever discovered the bodies in Sowell’s home? How many more people would’ve had to die?  Records indicate that it took several weeks to assign an officer to the case involving the woman who accused Sowell of raping her.  Why did it take so long for police to catch on to what was going on?  And more importantly, if police were “checking in” on Sowell all along, occasionally stopping by his home, how could they have missed the unmistakable smell of decomposing bodies? Shouldn’t it have served as a warning that something was amiss?

For more information about criminal investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.