August 27, 2014

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Former home of Anthony Sowell being searched by FBI

CLEVELAND — A home outside Cleveland where a suspected serial killer once lived was searched by FBI agents and cadaver dogs today for any remains in addition to the 10 female bodies and skull found at his more recent home nearby.

Agents led two search dogs around the East Cleveland property where Anthony Sowell, 50, lived before going to prison for 15 years for a 1989 attempted rape. The search inside and outside the house didn’t immediately turn up remains, FBI spokesman Scott Wilson said.

The current owners, who aren’t connected to the Sowell family, have cooperated, Wilson said.

Police in East Cleveland began reviewing three unsolved slayings from 1988 and 1989 after Sowell was arrested and his background in East Cleveland emerged.

The tree-lined street has a mix of older homes, some well-kept and some in need of repair. The house where Sowell once lived sat empty in recent years before it was renovated.

Only a handful of residents are still around from the time he lived in the neighborhood, which is just 4 miles north of the Cleveland neighborhood where the bodies were found at Sowell’s latest home.

That property was searched for three weeks after police who went to arrest him Oct. 29 on a sexual assault allegation found the first of 10 bodies and a skull in the home or buried in the yard.

Sowell has been charged with 11 counts of aggravated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. Sowell faces arraignment Thursday on an 85-count indictment returned Tuesday by a Cuyahoga County grand jury.

FBI agents also participated in the search of his Cleveland home, into which he moved with family members four years ago after finishing his prison term. The FBI used thermal imaging devices to check for composting materials or graves.

Authorities have said Sowell lured vulnerable women — typically homeless or living alone and with drug or alcohol addictions — to his home and attacked them.

Of the 11 alleged victims, all black women, 10 have been identified. The remains of 10 women and a skull were found in his home and buried in the yard.