EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Three bodies have been found wrapped in plastic bags in a Cleveland suburb and police will continue a search for possibly more victims Sunday, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said.
The bodies, believed to be female, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart and a 35-year-old man was arrested and is a suspect in all three deaths, although he has not yet been charged, Norton said late Saturday.
The suspect is a registered sex offender and has served prison time, the mayor said. In police interviews, the man led them to believe he might have been influenced by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell, Norton said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence,” the mayor said.
Sowell was found guilty in 2011 of killing 11 women and hiding their remains around his Cleveland home. He was sentenced to death and is in an Ohio prison.
Asked if the suspect has a fascination with the Sowell case, the mayor said: “We believe so.”
Police Commander Mike Cardilli said a woman’s body was found Friday in a garage and two other bodies were found Saturday — one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house.
All three people are believed to have been killed in the last six to 10 days.
Police did not know the gender of the two bodies found Saturday and did not know the identities of any of the three victims. They were sent to the coroner’s office.
Norton said the bodies were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags. He said detectives continue to interview the suspect, who used his mother’s address in Cleveland, the mayor said, in registering as a sex offender.
Cardilli said the man was arrested after a standoff with police Friday. Police did not immediately release the suspect’s name. He was jailed in East Cleveland, the mayor said.
“The person in custody, some of the things he said to investigators made us go back today,” the mayor said.
Police searched vacant houses over about three blocks in the neighborhood Saturday and planned to expand their search Sunday, Norton said.
The Plain Dealer reported that police, the FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department went through yards and abandoned houses and used dogs trained to find cadavers.
The neighborhood in East Cleveland, of some 17,000 residents, has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough, the mayor said.
“Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it,” he said.