Body Count Now "At Least 10" At Cleveland Rapist's House

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The number of bodies found in and near a rapist's home rose to at least 10 on Tuesday when authorities unearthed four corpses from the backyard and found a skull in a bucket in the basement.

Cleveland police stopped searching for victims for the night and planned to continue on Wednesday. They have extended their efforts to boarded-up homes in the neighborhood where residents complained for years of a stench that one even said "smelled like a dead body."

Some in the community want an investigation into why it took so long to trace the grisly source.

Anthony Sowell, 50, a registered sex offender who lives in the home, was charged Tuesday with five counts of aggravated murder, as well as rape, felonious assault and kidnapping. He was to be arraigned Wednesday, police spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho said.

"It appears that this man had an insatiable appetite that he had to fill," police Chief Michael McGrath said.

Police discovered the bodies of six women Thursday and Friday after a woman reported being raped at Sowell's home. All six were black, and five were strangled. Authorities did not provide the genders or races of the bodies found Tuesday.

Police do not know whether the skull belongs to an 11th victim, Stacho said. McGrath said the skull was found wrapped in paper bag in a bucket.

Fire department crews plan to search in the walls and ceiling of Sowell's home, McGrath said.

"I would like to believe there is nothing else there, but we won't know until we search everything," he said.

The bodies could have been there anywhere from weeks to months to years, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner, who is attempted to identify the remains through DNA and dental records.

"I can imagine how families feel who have reported a missing person, and anxiety that they are going through," said Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. "We want to assure them as soon as we know something they will be the first to know."

McGrath said he would not be surprised if some of the victims were never reported missing.

"I have to believe at this point all these victims voluntarily went to this residence," he said.

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 plan to scour another quarter-mile area Wednesday, McGrath said. He said Sowell did not have a car and 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.

"What kind of man was this?" wondered Regina Woodland, who lives about two blocks away.

"He couldn't have been human."

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 is 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 occasion.

"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.

Investigators said one of the six bodies found last week had been 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.


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