EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio – A man will be charged with aggravated murder after three bodies wrapped in trash bags were found in suburban Cleveland, the mayor said Monday.
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said a call to police led authorities to a home and a standoff with the man, who was eventually taken into custody. The mayor has said the suspect indicated he might have been influenced by the earlier case of Cleveland serial killer convicted in the deaths of 11 women.
Norton announced Monday that 35-year-old Michael Madison will be charged with three counts of aggravated murder. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Police and volunteers scoured about 40 empty homes Sunday until their search was suspended, with no immediate plans to resume.
Authorities said they had identified only one of the victims, Angela Deskins, who was believed to be 38 years old. The other two bodies were too badly decomposed to identify. Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson said fingerprints, dental records and DNA genetic material would be used to try to identify the other two victims.
The medical examiner said he couldn’t determine a cause of death because of the bodies’ conditions.
The first body was found in a garage Friday. Two others were found Saturday — one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies, all women, were found about 100 to 200 yards (100 to 200 metres) apart, and authorities say the victims were killed in the previous six to 10 days.
Each body was wrapped in a plastic bag, in the fetal position. “It didn’t look like a person could actually fit in the bag,” said East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts.
Spotts stressed that the investigation remained open.
Ali Bilal, 31, said he knew Deskins casually and called her friendly.
“I knew her as a nice person. We spoke here and there, she used to come over and talk to my brother,” he said. “For the most part, she was a sweetheart, real nice conversation, pretty much a good person to talk to, good person to be around.”
He wasn’t familiar with her personal life.
It’s the third recent high-profile case in the Cleveland area that involves missing women.
In May, three women who separately vanished about a decade ago were found captive in a run-down house. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has been charged with nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes and has pleaded not guilty.
Castro also fathered a daughter with one captive, authorities said.
In 2009, Anthony 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 throughout the home.
Sowell’s victims ranged in age from 24 to 52, all were recovering or current drug addicts and most died of strangulation; some had been decapitated, and others were so badly decomposed that coroners couldn’t say with certainty how they died.
He was found guilty in 2011 and sentenced to death.
© The Canadian Press, 2013