Former Cuyahoga County coroner provides autopsy details on Strangler victims

Published: Jul. 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2011 at 10:39 AM EDT
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The Cleveland Strangler trial resumed Tuesday after a long weekend break.

Former Cuyahoga County coroner Elizabeth Balraj was first to take the stand. Dr. Balraj performed five of the eleven autopsies on the women found dead at Anthony Sowell's house. The bodies were found in and around Sowell's Imperial Avenue home in late 2009.

Tuesday's testimony will mirror that of another pathologist who testified on Friday about the six autopsies she did on the other victims.

Dr. Balraj gave details about the autopsy of Tonya Carmichel. She was strangled with a phone charger cord, her hands tied behind her back.

She then centered on victim Imelda Hunter. She was strangled with a briefcase strap, her body wrapped in heavy-duty garbage bags.

Dr. Balraj then testified about the autopsy of Crystal Dozier. She was found bound and strangled, her body wrapped in heavy-duty plastic sheets.

Janice Webb's autopsy was discussed next. She was gagged with a shirt and a green belt was tightly wrapped around her neck.

Dr. Balraj then testified to the autopsy of Leshandra Long. All that was found of her body was a skull in a bucket in Sowell's basement. Her cause of death was listed as homicidal violence.

"The skull is skeletonized, there is no soft tissue attached to the bones," said Dr. Balraj. "The maxilar is intact, the maxilar teeth are present. Some of the anterior and posterior teeth are absent post mortem. The mandible is not present."

Jurors listened to the graphic testimony, as well as viewed photographs from the crime scene and autopsies.

"The ligature that was around her neck is visible, it was a black electrical cord. A charger type of electrical cord," said Dr. Balraj.

As for a head found in a bucket Dr. Balraj couldn't find a cause of death, but did say it was violent. It was so badly decomposed there was no tissue attached to the bone.

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