Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony Sowell: The Cleveland Strangler

Finally Caught

 

On Sept. 2, 2009, Anthony Sowell checked in with the county sheriff's office, as required. On Sept. 22, deputies paid a surprise visit to verify his reported address. Sowell met them at the door and answered their questions, and they left, as usual.

Police say just hours after the deputies left, Sowell dragged a woman inside his house, choked her with an extension cord, and raped her. She told police that she was able to get away by promising that she wouldn't go to the police, and that she'd come back with $50.

Anthony Sowell
Anthony Sowell

The next day she went to the hospital and spoke to police. But police say she resisted their ongoing attempts to interview her further, skipping an October 11 appointment to which she'd agreed, meeting with them only on October 27. This slowed the case down, and police didn't obtain a warrant to search Sowell's house until 36 days after the alleged attack.

During that time, another incident drew attention to the Sowell residence. Neighbors saw a naked woman jump, or fall, out a second story window and called 911. An ambulance took the woman to the MetroHealth Medical Center. She was reportedly under the influence of drugs, and said she'd been "partying" all day. She refused to talk to police at the hospital. Cops went to Sowell's house, but no one answered the door.

On October 29, the police were back, warrant in hand, ready to arrest Anthony Sowell, who was not at home. On entering the residence they found two decomposing bodies. The next day, they found three more. They didn't catch up with Sowell until Halloween, when they arrested him a mile from his residence on Mt. Auburn Avenue. A few days later, police charged Sowell with five murders — and found six more bodies in the house.

At that time, there were still two dozen women missing from Cleveland's east side.

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