Police have arrested a man in connection with the three bodies found in East Cleveland over the weekend, and they say they fear they'll find more victims before the investigation is over.
35-year old Michael Madison put a garage rental in his name, which is how authorities tracked him down after one of the bodies was found inside. The other two victims were found in a nearby abandoned home and in a field, respectively. Police haven't identified them, but all three appear to be young black women who were wrapped in plastic. Decomposition has made it extremely difficult to gather much information on the victims before autopsies take place.
Investigators say Madison appears to have been influenced by Anthony Sowell, the convicted serial killer who murdered 11 women in Cuyahoga, Ohio in 2010. The victims' remains were found in Sowell's home on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland, and residents in the neighborhood say that the stigma of what happened there has made it difficult to remain on the street.
"Would your kids play in that park? Would you eat or plant anything that came from a community garden grown on that soil? I don't think so," said Donnita Carmichael, whose mother Tonia Carmichael was one of Sowell's victims.
Now the city is facing another long road paved with grief and mystery as investigators seek out more potential victims of the copycat killer.
“Unfortunately, this is a sick individual who appears to have been influenced by another sick individual,” East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said. “If he had been out for one more hour, there’s no telling what would have happened.”
Volunteers have joined officers on a house-to-house search for anyone who might have information regarding the victims or missing persons. Police Chief Ralph Spotts said they won't rest until they turn over every stone.
“We’re still not satisfied. There’s a possibility there may be something else,” Spotts told WEWS. “So we’re going to exhaust everything we have to make sure that — hopefully — we don’t find anything else.”