(Columbus) - Anthony Sowell, one of the most prolific serial killers ever in Cleveland, has died in prison from a terminal illness. Sowell, 61, died Monday afternoon at 3:27 p.m. at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus. That is a hospital facility run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrrections. His illness was not related to COVID-19
It was on October 29, 2009, when Cleveland Police entered the house belonging to Sowell at 12205 Imperial Avenue, a few blocks north of Kinsman Road in the southeast part of the city. Sowell was being investigated in connection with some rape cases. It was during that first visit that police found the bodies of two women. Subsequent searches turned up the bodies of 11 women, some inside the house, others buried in the yard.
Some of the women had never been reported as missing, but others had been, and their families were unhappy that police gave up the search for their loved ones. They were identified as Tonia Carmichael, Nancy Cobbs, Tishana Culver, Crystal Dozier, Telacia Fortson, Amelda Hunter, Leshanda Long, Michelle Mason, Kim Yvette Smith, Diane Turner, and Janice Webb.
A Cuyahoga County jury found him guilty of 81 counts, including Aggravated Murder for the deaths of the 11 women, as well as rape and kidnapping charges for other women who survived. Sowell was sentenced to death, but numerous appeals kept him alive in prison for the past ten years.
The house on Imperial Avenue was eventually torn down, and it remains a vacant lot, with grass growing. Activists gather at the site, usually on the anniversary of the discovery of the bodies, holding rallies and vigils in memory of the murdered women, and calling for better police response to missing person cases.
(Sowell court photo and Imperial demolition photos from WTAM file)
(Sowell prison photo courtesy Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction)
(Copyright 2021, iHeartMedia)
Listen to WTAM for news at the top and bottom of the hour