CLEVELAND (AP) - Remains of four more people were unearthed from the backyard of a rapist's home Tuesday, raising to 10 the number of bodies found in and near the house, as police also searched boarded-up homes in the neighborhood where residents complained for years of a stench that one even said "smelled like a dead body."
Anthony Sowell, 50, a registered sex offender who lives in the home, was charged Tuesday with five counts of aggravated murder.
"It appears that this man had an insatiable appetite that he
had to fill," police Chief Michael McGrath said.
He said the four bodies were found buried in the backyard of the home and a skull was found in a bucket in the basement.
Authorities do not know whether the skull belongs to an 11th
victim, said police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho.
The search was to continue through the night and into Wednesday, with fire department crews planning to search in the walls and ceiling of the home, McGrath said.
Police discovered the first six bodies Thursday and Friday after a woman reported being raped at Sowell's home. Investigators said they found one body in a shallow grave in the backyard. The rest were inside the house - one in the basement, two in the third-floor
living room and two in an upstairs crawl space.
The Cuyahoga County coroner is attempting to identify those
women through DNA and dental records. All six were black, and five
Sowell was also charged Tuesday with rape, felonious assault and
kidnapping related to the woman's complaint.
He is to be arraigned Wednesday, Stacho said.
The bodies could have been there anywhere from weeks to months
to years, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the coroner.
"What kind of man was this?" wondered Regina Woodland, who
lives about two blocks away.
"He couldn't have been human."
Detectives used cadaver dogs and digging equipment to scour the
home and backyard Tuesday, looking for evidence to connect Sowell
to the bodies, Stacho said.
Police turned up nothing in an initial search of a quarter-mile
swath of abandoned homes near Sowell's residence, which sits in a
crowded inner-city neighborhood of mostly older houses.
Investigators have brought lights and heavy equipment to the
home and are putting a tent around the yard, WKYC-TV reported.
They plan to scour another quarter-mile area Wednesday, McGrath
said. He said Sowell did not have a car would have had to take a
city bus to travel.
A crowd of about 100 people milled about and chatted near the
home Tuesday evening. A short while later, about 50 people joined
hands and put their arms around each other in the middle of the
street and prayed aloud.
One of those in the crowd, Antoinnette Dudley, 29, lives a few
houses away. She said she could smell a terrible odor like
something was dead all summer. She said she saw Sowell only a few
times, mainly drinking beer while he sat on his porch.
"I didn't think he was that sick," she said.
Sowell is a registered sex offender and required to check in
regularly at the sheriff's office. Officers didn't have the right
to enter his house, but they would stop by to make sure he was
there. Their most recent visit was Sept. 22, just hours before the
woman reported being raped.
For the past few years, Sowell's neighbors thought the foul
smell enveloping their street corner had been coming from a brick
building where workers churned out sausage and head cheese.
It got so bad that the owners of Ray's Sausage replaced their
sewer line and grease traps.
City Councilman Zack Reed, whose mother lives a block from the
area, said he called the city health department on more than one
"What happened from there, we don't know," he said. "It was
no secret that there was a foul odor. We don't want to point
fingers, but clearly something could have been done differently."
Reed said he and other community leaders want an investigation
into whether police and health inspectors missed signs that could
have tipped them off to the bodies.
Reed said he can't imagine how police officers and sheriff's
deputies could have missed the smell. His office records show that
he called the health department in 2007 after a resident told him
about an odor that "smelled like a dead body," he said.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)