Six bodies in rapist's house were murder victims

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The Independent US

Six women whose badly-decomposed bodies were found at the home of a convicted rapist had been murdered, medical experts said.

At least five of the women found in the house in Cleveland, Ohio, had apparently been strangled, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner. Decomposition made it difficult to determine how the sixth died, he said.

The bodies "could have been there anywhere from weeks to months to years", Mr Caesar said.

Mr Caesar said two victims were black but the race of the others had not been determined.

Anthony Sowell, a 50-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested on Saturday when officers spotted him walking down the street of his east-side neighbourhood.

No charges have yet been filed regarding the bodies.

The gruesome discovery left some in the community concerned about women who they had not seen in a long time. Ida Garrett, 72, remembered a friend who was reported missing in April. "I think one of them is her," she said.

The first bodies were found on Thursday night when police went to Sowell's home to arrest him on new charges of rape and felonious assault, but he was not there.

The woman in that alleged attack said she knew Sowell and was raped at the house.

Sowell previously spent 15 years in prison for choking and raping a 21-year-old woman who was lured to his bedroom in 1989, police said.

As a registered sex offender, Sowell was required to check in regularly at the sheriff's office, which said he complied. Officers also visited his home, most recently on September 22, just hours before the woman reported being raped there.

But since Sowell was not on parole or probation, they did not have the right to enter his house - until Thursday when they had search and arrest warrants.

The three-storey house is in a crowded inner-city neighbourhood of mostly older homes, some boarded up, and small corner shops.

The windows of the third floor, where the first two bodies were found, were wide open yesterday as a slight breeze blew. Some neighbours said a bad smell came from the house several months ago, but they thought then that it might be natural gas.

Ms Garrett said the neighbourhood was relieved by the arrest but worried about those missing, including one of her friends, Nancy Cobbs, 43.

Ms Cobbs lived one street away from the Sowell home. and was reported missing in April.

Sowell often walked around his neighbourhood asking for money and looking for scrap metal to sell, neighbours said.

He returned to the family home in 2005 after his release from prison. The house was owned by two of Sowell's relatives, including a woman - described by neighbours as either Sowell's stepmother or aunt - who kept it up.

Neighbours said the woman moved into a nursing home after Sowell was released from prison.

Teresa Hicks, a neighbour, said people feared that she might be dead.

Source: The Belfast Telegraph