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Cleveland wrestles with crime sprees against women; 2nd victim ID'd

July 23, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Michael Madison, center, a registered sex offender, is the suspect in the killing of at least three women whose bodies were found in East Cleveland.
Michael Madison, center, a registered sex offender, is the suspect in the… (David Maxwell / EPA )

Authorities have identified the second of three women found dead and wrapped in plastic bags in Cleveland as the city tries to understand why that area has been the recent scene of grisly crimes against women.

Michael Madison, 35, is being held on three counts of aggravated murder and three counts of kidnapping in connection with the deaths. He is the latest to be accused  of horrific attacks on women, following Anthony Sowell, sentenced to death, and Ariel Castro, awaiting trial on almost 1,000 counts of kidnapping, rape and other crimes against three women, whose escape to freedom galvanized the city and the nation.

Trying to understand what is often the inexplicable is a common aftermath of any gruesome crime spree, but officials linked the latest problems to poverty and the disintegration of neighborhoods that allowed crimes to go undetected. There is a long history of social research on links between poverty and crime, though a representative for the Department of Justice said Tuesday that there were no current statistics immediately available.

“This is what happens when you have poverty,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich told reporters Monday. “It's what happens when you have individuals who are very dangerous inside the community and somehow lose track of them. It's about breakdown of neighborhoods, sometimes, where, you know, we don't always know our neighbors. There's so much to it.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, investigators at a news conference released the name of the second woman to be identified in the latest spree in the suburb of East Cleveland.  The woman was identified as Shetisha Sheeley, 28, of Cleveland. Angela Deskins, 38, also of Cleveland, was named on Monday. Both women were identified through fingerprints, officials said, though a tattoo helped in the case of Sheeley, officials said.

The third woman is yet to be identified.

East Cleveland is a poor suburb where boarded-up homes are often seen in television images from recent days. On Sunday, volunteers scoured dozens of those buildings looking for additional victims.

Madison was arrested after a neighbor complained of a foul order. The cause of three deaths has not been established; authorities said two bodies had badly decomposed, hindering investigations.

Madison served four years in prison for attempted rape and a drug offense, officials said. At a court hearing on Monday, he did not enter a plea and was ordered held on $6-million bail.

In Cleveland, residents were shocked in May by the case of three women held captive for at least a decade in a poor area of the city’s west side. Castro, a former school bus driver, has pleaded not guilty to imprisoning the women and repeatedly raping them. 

Four years ago, Sowell, who stalked and killed 11 women on Cleveland's east side and hid the bodies around his house and yard, was arrested. He remains in prison after being found guilty in 2011 and sentenced to death.

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