After 3 bodies found, mayor warns: ‘There might be more victims’
(CNN) — Three bodies have been discovered in East Cleveland, police say — and a man is in custody in connection with the case.
“We are dealing with a sick individual and we have reason to believe that there might be more victims,” East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told CNN.
All three victims appear to be young black women, their decomposing bodies wrapped in layers of plastic and taped up, according to authorities.
Two bodies were found Saturday, one in the basement of an abandoned house, the other in a field nearby. The first victim was found Friday in a garage on the same block after police received a call about a foul odor.
The first victim was found naked with indications of trauma, police say. The second victim was found wearing a green hoodie, and the third was wearing a leopard print leotard.
A car in the garage where the first victim was found led investigators to a suspect who was arrested after a standoff with police, CNN affiliate WOIO reported.
The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Michael Madison, was convicted of attempted rape in 2001 and is a registered sex offender, police say.
CNN could not immediately reach a representative for Madison.
Norton believes the killings happened over a 10-day period.
“One of the things that makes us believe it’s the same suspect is the way that they were all wrapped… and the same concealment of each of the victims,” he said.
According to Norton, Madison “idolized” and was “influenced” by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell.
Sowell was sentenced to death in 2011 for killing 11 women in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
“Unfortunately, this is a sick individual who appears to have been influenced by another sick individual,” Norton told CNN’s Alina Cho. “If he had been out for one more hour there’s no telling what would have happened.”
One hundred volunteers were going house to house Sunday “to see if there’s anything else out there that police need to know about,” he added.
So far police have been unable to identify any of the victims. The Cuyahoga County medical examiner said in a Sunday statement that “identification and final cause of death may take several days” given the advanced state of decomposition. Currently the medical examiner’s office is not asking people with missing relatives to provide DNA samples.
“We hope and pray that there are no more (bodies),” the mayor said.
No charges have yet been filed.
East Cleveland is seven miles northeast of Cleveland, Ohio. The city, incorporated in 1911, occupies three square miles.
According to 2010 census data, the city of almost 18,000 is predominately African-American and has the highest poverty rate in Cuyahoga County.