Strangler: Police Probe Possible Tie To Cleveland Strangler, CA Rape

Tonia Carmichael
Tonia Carmichael

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell may be connected to a rape case in California.

Police in Coronada, California are investigating whether Sowell may have committed an unsolved rape in 1979.

"We are researching this and looking for information," Police Chief Louis Scanlon said.

Sowell joined the Marines in 1978 and was stationed in California, North Carolina and Okinawa, Japan.

Meanwhile, Sowell was arraigned Wednesday morning in Cleveland Municipal Courtroom on five counts of aggravated murder, rape, assault and kidnapping.

Judge Ronald Adrine ordered Sowell to be held without bond at the prosecutor's request and to "secure the safety of the community." The prosecutor told Judge Adrine that "the state believes he is an incredible threat to he public, not only to Cleveland, but beyond city limits."

Sowell waived his preliminary hearing, his case has been bound over to the grand jury.

Judge Adrine said Wednesday in court that in his 28-years on the bench, this is the most serious crime he has have ever seen.

Cleveland Police went to serve a search warrant at the residence of the 50-year-old convicted rapist last Thursday and discovered decomposing bodies. Sowell was arrested on Saturday after an extensive manhunt - a tipster spotted Sowell walking about a mile from his home and alerted police.

Tuesday, four more bodies were found buried in Sowell's backyard and one skull was found in his basement.

Cleveland Police have now recovered a total of 11 bodies.  Five bodies were found buried in the backyard, five bodies and one skull were found inside of the home. The coroner ruled that eight of the victims were strangled. The coroner is still working to determine the cause of death for the other three victims.

Cleveland Police and fire officials plan to go back to Sowell's home and methodically search inside the walls for more bodies.

Neighbors and Councilman Zack Reed continue to wonder how Sowell continued to kill even as complaints about the stench near the home grew. Reed says he sent a letter to the Health Department two years ago and nothing was done. Now, he's calling for an investigation.

"We clearly know the ball was dropped," said Reed. "Let's to back, look at and evaluate how the ball was dropped."

The Office of the Council released the following statement on Wednesday regarding the murders:

Cleveland City Council wants to express its sincerest sympathies to the victims of Anthony Sowell. The top priorities at this time must be to discover the full extent of the tragedies and to bring forth justice.

We acknowledge the issues being raised by the community and the media and will examine the case at the appropriate time but we will do nothing to impede the ongoing investigation.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office held a news conference Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Coroner's Office with the latest information on the Imperial Avenue cases that the Coroner's Office is presently handling, to include seeking the public's assistance in helping the Coroner's Office to identify the unknown decedents.

The coroner's office asked for families of missing loved ones to come forward to provide DNA samples.

Anthony Sowell is a tier three sex offender who previously served 15-years in prison for attempted rape and was released back in 2005.

The newly filed murder charges against Sowell could land him on death row if he is convicted.

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