Cleveland Strangler Investigation Timeline

Published: Nov. 4, 2009 at 1:57 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2010 at 1:21 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland Police have recovered 11 bodies from a home on Imperial Avenue near E. 123rd Street.

Authorities have one person in custody, 50-year Anthony Sowell. Sowell spent 15-years in prison for attempted rape and has now been charged with five counts of aggravated murder and other charges.

Here's a look at the investigation timeline:

Thursday, October 29th:

  • Cleveland Police arrive at 12205 Imperial Avenue to search the home of Anthony Sowell after a woman accused him of rape.
  • First 2 bodies are found on the third floor and a shallow grave is discovered in the basement under the staircase.

Friday, October 30th:

  • Cleveland Police dig up shallow grave in the basement under the staircase and find body#3.
  • Body #4 and #5 are found in crawl space inside of the home.
  • Body #6 is found buried in a shallow grave in the backyard.

Saturday, October 31st:

  • Anthony Sowell is spotted about 1-mile from his house and is picked up after a tipster alerted Fourth District Police.

Tuesday, November 3rd:

  • Cleveland Police and the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office return to Sowell's home to dig up the backyard and search the house for evidence.
  • Four more bodies are discovered buried in the backyard. These are bodies #7, #8, #9 and #10.
  • A skull is found in a bucket wrapped in a paper in the basement
  • Cleveland Police officially charge Anthony Sowell on 5 counts of murder, rape, assault and kidnapping.

Wednesday, Nov. 4th:

  • Anthony Sowell was arraigned in Cleveland Municipal Court after being charged with five counts of aggravated murder along with rape, assault and kidnapping warrants.
  • Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller positively identified Tonia Carmichael as one of the victims found on the Imperial Ave. property.
  • A total of eleven bodies have been found so far. Eight of the victims had been strangled. Two of the other victims died due to homicidal violence. The cause of death has not been determined for the 11th victim. 

Thursday, Nov. 5th:

  • A mid-morning prayer vigil was held for the victims of the Cleveland Strangler. Councilman Zack Reed and local ministers called for the community to come together for a moment of prayer and consolation so that healing may begin, in light of the horrific discovery of multiple bodies on Imperial Avenue.
  • 2nd & 3rd victims identified by Cleveland Police. The families of Telacia Fortson and Tishana Culver, both 31-years old, were notified. Fortson had been missing since June while a missing persons report for Culver had never been filed.
  • Cleveland City Council hold an impromptu meeting at the Imperial Street address. Council members reassured Anthony Sowell's neighbors that they have their support.

Friday, Nov. 6th:

  • Police, fire and coroner investigators are back at Anthony Sowell's Imperial Avenue home. They're searching the walls, floors and the yard for more remains and evidence.
  • The search at Sowell's home concludes. Officials announce no further plans to search the home. The location is still considered a crime scene and will continue to be secured by law enforcement.
  • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson tours the Strangler's home. Jackson says he and his residents "share in the suffering" of the situation.
  • Fourth Imperial Street victim ID'd. 43-year old Nancy Cobs had been missing since April.
  • East Cleveland Police is reopening at least three murder cases from the '80's. Cops say the unsolved murder cases of Carmella Karen Prater, Mary Thomas and Rosalind Garner all have similarities to the Cleveland Strangler.

Saturday, Nov. 7th:

  • The Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office positively identified the fifth, sixth and seventh victims found at 12205 Imperial Avenue. Amelda Hunter, 47, Crystal Dozier, 38, and Michelle Mason, 45, all of Cleveland.

Monday, Nov. 9th:

  • Police homicide detectives and cadaver dogs are back on the scene at Anthony Sowell's Imperial Avenue house. Around 12:30PM, two cadaver dogs went into an abandoned school building - the old Lafayette Elementary - about a block and a half from Imperial. A neighbor tells 19 Action News the building has been abandoned for about 20-years. Just after 1PM, a cadaver dog was brought to the backyard of Sowell's neighbor. That home has been vacant since March of 2008.
  • The 8th victim identified, Janice Webb
  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that a grand jury returned an indictment against Anthony Sowell for assaulting and raping a 36-year-old female on September 22, 2009.
Wednesday, Nov. 11th:
  • Cleveland Police were back at the Imperial Avenue home with a bulldozer, tearing up a neighboring home's backyard. FBI agents will be checking the yard for evidence.
  • 25 year old Leshanda Long has been identified. Identification of Ms. Long was complicated by the fact that only her skull was available to the Cuyahoga County Coroner.  Family members state she was last seen in August of 2008.
Thursday, Nov. 12th:
  • Funeral Services were held for the first victim of the Cleveland Strangler. Telacia Fortson, the mother of three young children, was laid to rest.
  •  FBI brings in thermal imaging to search for more victims.
  • The FBI is also going to take a look at Anthony Sowell's timeline focusing on where he's lived throughout the United States. They'll compare those locations to a national database that has unsolved violent crimes on it.
  • Profilers in Quantico plan to take a look at the case of the Cleveland Strangler.
Friday, Nov. 13th:
  • Cleveland Police and the F.B.I were out Sowell's home and were using thermal imaging and other equipment to check for more bodies and other evidence. Authorities also checked a home next to Sowell's property.
Saturday, Nov. 14th:
  • Cleveland Police and the F.B.I were back out again with their high tech equipment looking for more evidence. CNN has reported the Feds marked Sowell's home with paint in certain areas, indicating that they may be back to dig some more.

Wednesday, Nov. 18th:

  • Cleveland Police, the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office along with F.B.I agents are back out at Anthony Sowell's home digging up areas of interest that were marked over the weekend when the FBI used special thermal imaging equipment on the ground outside of Sowell's property. The equipment was also used inside of Sowell's home.

Tuesday, December 1st:

  • Anthony Sowell charged with 85 counts including murder, kidnapping, rape and abuse of a corpse. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Wednesday, December 2nd:

  • The FBI searches Anthony Sowell's former Page Avenue home in East Cleveland.  The head of the FBI says they have no reason to believe there are more victims and that the search is simply precautionary.

Friday, December 4th:

  • The Cuyahoga County Coroner's office has identified all eleven Cleveland Strangler victims. The last victim was identified Thursday, Dec. 3rd but wasn't made public until Dec. 4th. The last victim was 38-year-old Diane Turner.

Wednesday, December 9th:

  • Anthony Sowell waives his right to a speedy trial. He must be tried before May 10th. 'Round the clock security and barbed wire fencing in place at the Imperial Avenue home where the bodies of eleven women were discovered last month.

Friday, December 11th:

  • The eleventh and final victim of the Cleveland Strangler was laid to rest among friends and family Friday morning. Visitation and funeral services for Diane Turner was held among a throng of mourners at the Providence Baptist Church.

Wednesday, December 16th:

  • Anthony Sowell will be in court for a pre-trial. Judge Timothy McGinty stepped down earlier this month citing a potential conflict. Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold will now hear his case.
  • Sowell's attorneys want his insanity plea to be put on hold until they can re-examine him. The judge approved the request. Sowell will be back in court on January 27th.

Wednesday, January 27th:

  • Judge refuses change of venue in Cleveland Strangler case

Tuesday, February 22nd:

  • Anthony Sowell has a court hearing - no word what it is about.

 Thursday, February 25th:

  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury returned a three count indictment against Anthony Sowell for kidnapping, attempted murder, and felonious assault of a 42-year-old Cleveland woman at his residence on Imperial Avenue, in Cleveland.

Saturday, March 13th

  • Attorneys visit Sowell's home to decide if the jury should be allowed to tour it during trial.

Wednesday, March 17th:

  • Anthony Sowell complains about an article in the Plain Dealer which contained his medical information. Sowell did not speak in court, as was originally  thought. The source who leaked the information about Sowell's psych records was Judge Timothy McGinty.

Wednesday, March 24th:

  • The judge presiding over the case, Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, threatens to ban media from the high-interest trial.