CLEVELAND — Six women whose badly decomposed bodies were found at the home of a convicted rapist were victims of homicide, the coroner's office said Sunday.
At least five of the women apparently had been strangled, said Powell Caesar, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner. Decomposition made it difficult to determine how the sixth died, he said.
The bodies "could have been there anywhere from weeks to months to years," Caesar said.
None of the victims has been identified, Caesar said.
Anthony Sowell, a 50-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested Saturday when officers spotted him walking down the street of his east-side neighborhood. Court records and jail officials had no information about whether he had an attorney. No charges have been filed regarding the bodies.
The gruesome discovery left some in the community concerned about women they had not seen in a long time. Ida Garrett, 72, remembered a friend who was reported missing in April. "I think one of them is her," Garrett said.
The first bodies were found Thursday night when police went to Sowell's home to arrest him on new charges of rape and felonious assault, but he wasn't there. The woman in that alleged attack survived. She said she knew Sowell and was raped at the house.
As a registered sex offender, Sowell was required to check in regularly at the Sheriff's Office, which said he had complied. Officers also visited his home, most recently on Sept. 22, just hours before the woman reported being raped there.
But since Sowell wasn't on parole or probation, they didn't have the right to enter his house — until they had warrants.