Search Widens for Ohio victims after Three bodies Found

6:03 PM, Jul 21, 2013   |    comments
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John Bacon -- USA TODAY

The macabre hunt for victims continued Sunday in a gritty section of East Cleveland, Ohio, where the bodies of three black women have been found wrapped in plastic since Friday.

Police Chief Ralph Spotts said the search targeted scores of abandoned homes in the area. Dozens of officers and volunteers were warned to be alert for the smell of rotting bodies.

It's possible that one or two more bodies could be found, Spotts said.

Two days earlier, police were involved in a standoff that ended in the arrest of a suspect identified by as Michael Madison, 35. No charges had been filed.

The suspect told investigators he was influenced by serial killer Anthony Sowell, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said. Sowell is awaiting execution after being convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and hiding their remains in his Cleveland home.

A report of a foul odor emanating from a home led police to the discovery of the first body, found Friday in a garage, and to the suspect. Two other bodies were found Saturday - one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The victims were killed in the last six to 10 days, police said.

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

"The person in custody, some of the things he said to investigators made us go back today," Norton said.

The neighborhood has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough, the mayor said. "Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it," he said.

The FBI and state law enforcement officials were assisting East Cleveland police in the investigation. The Cuyahoga Medical Examiners Office said it may take several days to identify the remains already found. reports that Madison was a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty to attempted rape more than a decade ago. He was given the least serious offender status, which requires registration once a year for 10 years, the website said. His local criminal history otherwise includes drug possession and trafficking, the website reported.

Contributing: Sara Shookman, AJ Ross and Will Ujek,; Associated Pres

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