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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.

15 Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know

October 8, 2009 1 comment

photo source: Arbron on Flickr

The following is a collection of 15 safety tips for women:

  1. If you carry a purse, avoid ones that dangle from the shoulder.  These types of bags can be easily yanked off by a thief.
  2. If you do carry a purse, always be aware of your surroundings.  Keep your bag close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow.
  3. If you must walk somewhere, try to minimize the amount of money that you carry around.  If you have to have a ton of cash on you, try to divide it up so that some is in your purse and some is in your pockets.
  4. Avoid shortcuts that are not well traveled- especially ones that aren’t well lit.
  5. If someone drops you off at home late at night, ask that they wait until you get inside.
  6. Pay attention to your surroundings and know what kinds of stores or other buildings look safe in the area just in case you need to duck into one for safety reasons.
  7. Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area; and always make sure that you look around prior to entering your vehicle.
  8. Before you enter your car, glance into the back seat just to make sure that there isn’t anyone hiding in the back seat.
  9. As soon as you enter your vehicle, make sure you lock your doors immediately.
  10. Prior to exiting your vehicle, make sure that you have your housekeys in your hand.
  11. If you live in an apartment, use your judgment to decide  whether or not to get into an elevator with someone  you don’t know.
  12. When walking somewhere, always walk briskly and look like you know where you are going.  If you look distracted, it may make it easier for someone to attack you.
  13. Make sure that you are appropriately dressed when you go out.  For example, you may not be able to defend yourself quite as well while wearing high heels.  If you have to, wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes to work and then change shoes once you are safely inside the building.
  14. If you are in your vehicle and suspect that someone is following you, never stop or pull your car over to allow them to pass.
  15. If someone is following you while driving, use a cell phone and continue to the nearest police station.  Do not get out of your vehicle  until police officer step outside and comes over to greet you.

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

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