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Suspect identified in 3 Ohio deaths

Suspect identified in 3 Ohio deaths

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio- Authorities responding to a report of a foul odor from a home discovered a body and arrested a registered sex offender who sent police and volunteers through a poor Ohioneighborhood in a search for more victims, officials said Sunday.

East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts cautioned searchers Sunday to be prepared to find one or two more victims, but after a daylong search that included 40 abandoned houses and other areas, no more bodies were found.

Spotts identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Madison. He said Madison is expected to be formally charged today.

Mayor Gary Norton said Madison indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of murdering 11 women and sentenced to death.

It's the latest in a series of high-profile cases involving the disappearance of women from the Cleveland area.

One body was found Friday in a garage. Two others were found Saturday - one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house.

The bodies, all wrapped in plastic bags, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities believed the victims were killed in the past six to 10 days.

Searchers rummaging through vacant houses in the same neighborhood Sunday were warned by Spotts to brace themselves for the smell of rotting bodies and to look out for trash bags that might conceal a body.

Spotts indicated later Sunday that Madison's comments haven't provided clarity on whether more bodies might 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.

Norton said authorities have "lots of reasons" to suspect there are more victims, but he refused to say why.

Norton said Madison, who was arrested Friday after a police standoff, has indicated to authorities he might have been influenced by Sowell.

"He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape or form, Sowell might be an influence," Norton said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Madison has an attorney, and no one was commenting Sunday afternoon at the address he registered.

A report of a foul odor emanating from a home led police to the discovery of the first body, found in a garage, and to the suspect. Two other bodies were found nearby Saturday.

The bodies were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said. He said detectives are continuing to interview Madison, who used his mother's address in Cleveland in registering as a sex offender, Norton said.

Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said Sunday that it would take several days to identify the victims and how they died.

About three dozen volunteers, including community anti-crime activists, fanned out Sunday morning across yards, through vacant houses and along a railroad to help police search.

The chief advised them to watch for missing floor boards as they looked inside houses.

One young searcher crawled under a board screwed across a door to go inside a house to search.

Neighbor Nathenia Crosby, 48, said she was familiar with the suspect and had seen him in the neighborhood.

She said she told him to stop chatting with her daughter and warned him after seeing him talk to her cousin.

"It's very scary, especially when he used to be talking to my daughter," Crosby said. "But I told him he was too old to be talking to my daughter because she was only 19."

It's the third recent high-profile case in the Cleveland area that involves missing women.

In May, three women who separately vanished a decade ago were found captive in a run-down house.

Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has pleaded not guilty to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnapping, rape and other crimes.

In 2009, Sowell was arrested after a woman escaped from his house and said she had been raped there. Police found the mostly nude bodies of 11 women in garbage bags and plastic sheets throughout the home.

 

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