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Charges expected in grisly Ohio bodies discovery

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio police chief says charges are expected Monday against the suspect being held in an investigation into the discovery of three women's bodies in trash bags.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts says there are no plans to resume searching in and around abandoned houses in the neighborhood where the bodies were found separately on Friday and Saturday.

Spotts on Sunday identified the suspect as 35-year-old registered sex offender Michael Madison. He said Madison is expected to be formally charged Monday, but did not elaborate.

A medical examiner says the bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition, and it will take days to identify the women and determine how they died.

Sunday's search of about 40 abandoned houses and other areas turned up no more bodies.

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An Ohio coroner says three bodies found wrapped in plastic bags in a suburban Cleveland neighborhood are female.

Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said Sunday that the bodies found in East Cleveland are in advanced stages of decomposition. He says it will take several days to identify the women and determine how they died.

One body was found Friday, and two others were found Saturday. A registered sex offender who authorities say is suspected in their deaths is in custody but hasn't been charged.

Police Chief Ralph Spotts told volunteers combing through vacant houses and high weeds in the neighborhood that they should be prepared to find one or two more bodies. He declined to elaborate.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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The police chief in a Cleveland suburb has told searchers that he believes there could be one or two more victims in addition to the three bodies found earlier.

Police Chief Ralph Spotts told volunteers checking vacant houses Sunday to be alert for smells of rotting. He declined to elaborate on other possible victims. East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton says authorities have a lot of reasons to suspect there are more, but he refused to say why.

Norton says a registered sex offender is now in custody and suspected of killing three people in about 10 days. He hasn't been charged.

Two more bodies were found Saturday in separate locations in the neighborhood. Each was wrapped in plastic bags.

The mayor says the suspect has indicated he might have been influenced by the earlier case of a Cleveland serial killer convicted of 11 women's deaths.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Police have resumed searching for possibly more victims after three bodies were found wrapped in plastic bags in a Cleveland suburb.

On Sunday morning, authorities walked through knee-high weeds in yards near where the bodies were found in East Cleveland and went door-to-door asking neighbors for any information that could help the case.

Mayor Gary Norton says a registered sex offender arrested after a police standoff Friday is a suspect in the three deaths. The mayor says the suspect has indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and sentenced to death.

In the most recent case, one body was found Friday in a garage. Two others were found Saturday - one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Police plan to expand their search Sunday for possibly more victims after three bodies were found wrapped in plastic bags in a Cleveland suburb.

The bodies, believed to be female, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and a 35-year-old man was arrested and is a suspect in all three deaths, though he has not yet been charged, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said Saturday.

The suspect is a registered sex offender and has served prison time, the mayor said. In police interviews, the man led them to believe he might have been influenced by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell, Norton told The Associated Press.

"He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence," the mayor said.

Sowell was found guilty in 2011 of killing 11 women and hiding their remains around his Cleveland home from June 2007 to July 2009. Police found their mostly nude bodies throughout the house after a woman escaped and said she had been raped in there.

Sowell's victims ranged in age from 24 to 52, all were recovering or current drug addicts and most died of strangulation; some had been decapitated, and others were so badly decomposed that coroners couldn't say with certainty how they died.

Prosecutors described him in court papers as "the worst offender in the history of Cuyahoga County and arguably the State of Ohio." He was sentenced to death.

On Saturday, Police Commander Mike Cardilli announced that a woman's body had been found Friday in a garage and two other bodies were found a day later - one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house.

All three people are believed to have been killed in the last six to 10 days.

Police did not know the identities of the three victims. Norton said police believe the three were female, although the bodies had not yet been examined by the medical examiner.

Norton said the bodies were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags. He said detectives continue to interview the suspect, who used his mother's address in Cleveland in registering as a sex offender, the mayor said.

Cardilli said the man was arrested after a standoff with police Friday. Police did not immediately release the suspect's name. He was jailed in East Cleveland, the mayor said.

"The person in custody, some of the things he said to investigators made us go back today," the mayor said.

Police searched vacant houses over about three blocks in the neighborhood Saturday and planned to expand their search Sunday, Norton said.

The police, FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department went through yards and abandoned houses and used dogs trained to find cadavers.

The neighborhood in East Cleveland, which has some 17,000 residents, has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough, the mayor said.

"Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it," he said.

The Cleveland area has had its share of gruesome news in recent years. In May, three women who separately vanished a decade ago were found captive in a run-down house. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has been charged with nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes.

Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck. He also fathered a daughter with one captive, authorities said.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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