September 1, 2014

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Memorial appears near home where 11 bodies were found

CLEVELAND — For days, there were no memorials in a run-down neighborhood where 11 bodies were found in one home. No flowers or framed photos. Just a few small melted candles and two stuffed animals tucked in the notch between a chain link fence and a brick wall.

By Thursday, someone had hung a sheet of plywood painted white on the fence near the home of 50-year-old Anthony Sowell, with the word MISSING stenciled in black. Five stuffed animals and an artificial rose adorned the sign, which now holds flyers showing 13 women and three men. Most of the missing are black, but a few are white or Hispanic.

There was no police activity Thursday morning at Sowell’s home.

Several pastors and a city councilman also planned to remember the victims found in the home, planning a prayer rally focused on consoling victims’ families Thursday morning at a local Baptist church.

Councilman Zach Reed has demanded an investigation into how police handled missing-person reports in neighborhoods near Sowell’s home. The ex-Marine, who served 15 years in prison for attempted rape, is being held without bond on five counts of aggravated murder.

Police have recovered 10 bodies and a skull from his Imperial Avenue property. So far, only one victim has been identified — 52-year-old Tonia Carmichael of Warrensville Heights.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brian Murphy called Sowell “an incredibly dangerous threat to the public” and said he could face the death penalty if convicted of the aggravated murder counts. Sowell also faces charges of rape, felonious assault and kidnapping after a Sept. 22 attack on a woman at his home.

Another woman, who said Sowell attacked her on the street and dragged her into the home in December, told Cleveland television stations she would never forget the look in his eyes.

“It was like the devil, eyes glowing,” Gladys Wade said in an interview on WKYC-TV. “He was demonic or something. You could see the demons in him.”

Wade said she fought back as Sowell, “kept twisting my neck, twisting it, twisting it. And I was gouging his face at the same time. I was trying to take his eyeballs out.”

Police did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday seeking comment on whether Wade had filed a complaint with them about the alleged attack. A listed telephone number could not immediately be found for her.