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Posts Tagged ‘crime’

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.

Lack of Surveillance to Blame for Gang Rape of 15-Year Old?

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

If you saw a young girl being brutally beaten and raped before your eyes, would you reach out to help in some way, or would you simply stand there and watch?  It seems that more people would rather stand by and watch; at least, this was the case in the recent report that is sending shockwaves around the country.

According to recent news reports, a 15-year old girl was attending her homecoming dance at Richmond High School when she was robbed, brutally beaten and raped by at least a dozen or more people.  What makes the situation even more horrifying is the fact that there were supposedly a total of 20 or so people who either participated in the rape or who watched as the rape took place and did NOTHING.

So, what caused the rape to take place?  Supposedly, the 15-year old (whose name is being withheld) left the homecoming dance around 9:30 p.m. to be picked up by her father.  However, on the way out from the dance, a friend asked her to walk with [them] to the other side of the school property into a dimly lit alley.  Once on the other side of the school building, the girl was met by a bunch of [students] who may or may not have had alcohol.  Just outside of the school, the girl was then robbed, and brutally beaten and raped for over two hours.  The girl only received medical attention when she was found laying unconscious on school property.  Currently, she is recovering in a hospital and does not have any life-threatening injuries.  But many people- especially parents are outraged over this incident.  How could a 15-year-0ld student have been raped on school property for over two hours without any faculty members knowing about it?

The Bystander Effect

According to some criminology and psychology experts, one of the reasons why witnesses may have done nothing to stop the rape of this young woman is due to something called the ‘bystander effect’.  According to Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention:

If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then nothing becomes the norm. [source]

Additionally, Carberry states that witnesses are less likely to report a crime because they reinforce this notion that reporting the crime isn’t necessary.  The other possibility is that witnesses within the group may think that someone else has already taken the opportunity to report the crime.  Responsibility becomes diffused among the group and almost ceases to exist.

So, where were the school officials when all of this was taking place?

No one seems to know.  What we do know is that in January of 2010, surveillance cameras were scheduled to be installed on the school property, specifically in the very area where the rape took place.

In the meantime, rumors are swirling that people were coming out of the dance when they heard that a rape was taking place.  So, can the people who stood by and did nothing actually be charged with a crime? It’s not as easy as you would think.  In order to be charged for a crime, you would have to prove that the bystanders somehow aided and abetted those involved in the rape, robbery and beating of the 15-year-old girl, either by restraining the victim or by participating in some other way such as blocking her path to prevent her from leaving, etc.

Arrests & Suspects

As part of an ongoing investigation to determine exactly who was involved in this heinous crime, investigators are offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information that will aid in the arrest and conviction of those involved in the 2.5 hour sexual assault that the female victim had to endure.  So far, the Richmond Police Department has arrested five people involved in the gang rape, but these aren’t the only people responsible for this crime.

It has been said that the victim could bring a civil suit against the school because, legally, the school has an obligation to protect its students by providing adequate security.  That being said, most of us are still reeling from this horrific event as we are left asking the question: “How could a 15-year-old-student be raped and beaten for 2.5 hours go in a public place without anyone saying anything or calling the police?”  Perhaps, in time, we will know the answer.

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

Intense Search for Missing Florida Girl Results in Tragic End

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

According to recent news reports posted only hours ago, authorities in Orange Park, Florida recovered the body of missing 7-year-old Somer Thompson.  Thompson was a north Florida girl who disappeared while walking home from school.

Thompson’s body was discovered in a Georgia landfill near the Florida state line after local detectives followed some garbage trucks that were leaving Thompson’s neighborhood.  Detectives soon made the gruesome discovery after they first spotted Thompson’s legs and partially covered body immersed under a conglomeration of garbage.  Identification of the body was determined based on clothing and a birthmark that matched Thompson’s.

According to Clay County Sheriff, Rick Beseler, following the discovery of Thompson’s body, more than 70 registered sex offenders in the area have been interviewed.  What is, perhaps, more disturbing is the fact that Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show that there are more than 160 sex offenders who live within a five-mile radius of the Thompsons’ home.

The murder of Somer Thompson has come as a tragic shock for the community she lived in. And as more details on this case emerge, it is the hope of many that police will find the killer soon before anyone else gets hurt.

For one family, it is already too late.

When it came time to break the news to Somer’s mother, Diena Thompson, that her daughter’s body had been found, Beseler was quoted as saying:

I had to make one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make in my career last night. [source]

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