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Six bodies found in rapist's Cleveland home

Ex-con Anthony Sowell is arrested nearby after the grisly discovery. Police review missing-persons reports since his 2005 release from prison in an attempt to identify the apparent murder victims.

November 01, 2009|Associated Press

CLEVELAND — A convicted rapist who fled before police arrived to arrest him on new rape charges was arrested Saturday in his neighborhood after police found six decomposing bodies at his home.

Police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho said that Anthony Sowell was walking down the street on the east side of Cleveland when authorities spotted him and took him into custody.

Sowell initially denied that he was the man authorities were looking for, but admitted his identity as officers began fingerprinting him, Stacho said. Charges against him are pending.

Officers initially identified three bodies at Sowell's home, Stacho said. Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner's office, said that three more bodies were confirmed Saturday.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, November 05, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 Metro Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Cleveland bodies: Articles in Section A on Sunday and Monday about the discovery of several sets of human remains at a Cleveland home said that suspect Anthony Sowell is a convicted rapist. Sowell has been convicted of attempted rape.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, November 08, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Cleveland bodies: An article in the Nov. 1 Section A about the discovery of several sets of human remains at a Cleveland home said that suspect Anthony Sowell is a convicted rapist. Sowell has been convicted of attempted rape.

As of Saturday, autopsies had been performed on all six bodies but no cause of death or names were announced.

The first two bodies were found Thursday night when police went to Sowell's home to arrest him on charges of felonious assault and rape. Police say he had spent 15 years in prison for a 1989 rape.

Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller identified two bodies as those of black females and said that one had died of a violent death ruled a homicide. No race or gender was determined for the others.

Police established a command post in the neighborhood to take missing-person reports and additional information on outstanding missing persons in the neighborhood.

Teresa Hicks, 48, was among the neighbors who said they were relieved about the arrest but left with a heightened fear of crime. She said she has known Sowell since high school.

"He was crazy," she said from her porch Saturday. "Sometimes he would just go off if he didn't have his way."

Darren Dunlap, 38, frequently visits the neighborhood to see his brother or friends. He said Sowell was known for borrowing money and looking for scrap metal to sell.

Hicks said that she didn't think Sowell had a job but that she understood from conversations with him that he lived on a monthly check. She said she didn't know its source.

Police were checking crime reports to find matches for similarities to the 1989 rape or the most recent allegation against Sowell.

Minutes before the arrest was made, police Chief Michael McGrath tried to reassure parents that it was safe for their children to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood if they followed standard precautions like avoiding strangers and staying in groups.

Detectives with a search warrant found two bodies Thursday on the third floor of a duplex and began checking a fresh grave dug in the basement. The bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition, suggesting they'd been in the home a long time.

Police were checking missing-persons reports dating back to June 2005, when Sowell was released from prison.

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