Cleveland search called off in neighbourhood where bodies of three women were found

But police are still concerned that they could find more victims as suspect appears influenced by Cleveland serial killer

Authorities have ended a search for possible victims after the bodies of three women were discovered dead and concealed in garbage bags in a deprived US neighbourhood, following complaints over a bad odour.

No bodies were found on Sunday.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts had warned search teams rummaging through 40 empty properties in the area to be prepared that they may discover more victims.

A suspect in the case has been identified as 35-year-old Michael Madison and he is expected to be formally charged on Monday, according to Mr Spotts.

The suspect indicated that he may have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2011 over the murder of 11 women, Mayor Gary Norton said.

Sowell’s arrest came after a woman escaped from his home and said she had been raped. Police later found the 11 women's mostly nude bodies hidden in garbage bags and under plastic sheets throughout the home.

In this incident, one body was found on Friday in a garage. Two others were discovered on Saturday; one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The three female bodies, all wrapped in plastic bags, had been placed approximately 200 yards (182 meters) apart, and authorities believed the victims were killed in the last six to 10 days.

Mr Spotts said the suspect had not been clear over whether more bodies could be found.

"He really hasn't stated that there's any more, but he hasn't said anything that would make us think that there's not," Spotts said.

Sunday's search included 40 abandoned houses as authorities wanted to search the area throughly, the mayor said.

"Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it," he added.

The bodies were each lying in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said.

Dr. Thomas P. Gilson, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, said because the bodies were already in advanced stages of decomposition, it would take several days to determine the identities and causes of death.

Madison was placed on a sex offender register in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to Cuyahoga County court records. He had previous convictions in 2000 and 2001 for drug-related charges.

He was arrested on Friday evening at his mother's property in Cleveland, according to the Plain Dealer.

One neighbour, Nathenia Crosby, said she was familiar with the suspect and had seen him walking through the neighbourhood. She said she had told him to stop chatting with her 19-year-old daughter.

"When I found out how old he was, I said, 'You need to move on, she's too young,"' Crosby said.

 

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