Nobody's Women: The Crimes and Victims of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Serial Killer

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BY
S
TEVE
M
ILLER

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Girl, Wanted
is a fantastic read.”


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. It’s an unflinching look inside a marriage and what led to murder.”


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Berkley titles by Steve Miller

A SLAYING IN THE SUBURBS

(with Andrea Billups)

GIRL, WANTED

NOBODY’S WOMEN

N
OBODY’S

W
OMEN

The Crimes and Victims
of Anthony Sowell,
the Cleveland Serial Killer

STEVE MILLER

BERKLEY BOOKS, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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NOBODY’S WOMEN

A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley premium edition / October 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Miller.

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®
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ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Cleveland media did a fantastic job of covering this story, one of the biggest to land in its lap in many years. At the risk of omitting some outlets, I have to give all the props I can to the
Plain Dealer
; the Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates; the Associated Press; Reuters; the
Call & Post
; Ohio News Network; and Alfi Scruggs at trueslant.com.

Thanks also to Shannon Jamieson Vazquez; Robert Sberna; the Cleveland Police Department; my parents, Boyd and Julie Miller; the cool folks in the Cuyahoga County District Clerk’s office; Chris Fuller; and Andrea Billups.

Photographer Liz Ledford at www.lizledford.com.

N
OTABLE
P
EOPLE

ANTHONY SOWELL
—convicted serial killer of eleven women

Anthony Sowell’s Family

CLAUDIA GARRISON
—mother

IRENE JUSTICE
—grandmother

JA’OVVONI GARRISON
—Sowell’s nephew

TRESSA GARRISON
—half sister

PATRICIA DAVIS
—half sister

OWEN “UNCLE JUNIOR” DAVIS
—half brother

THOMAS SOWELL SR.
—father

VIRGINIA OGLETREE
—Thomas Sowell Sr.’s first wife. Mother of Anthony Sowell’s half-siblings Allan, Thomas Sowell Jr.

VELMA CLEMONS
—Thomas Sowell Sr.’s second wife

SEGERNA (HENDERSON) SOWELL
—Thomas Sowell Sr.’s third wife

VIRGINIA OLIVER
—Segerna Sowell’s mother

JERMAINE HENDERSON
—Segerna Sowell’s nephew

TWYLA AUSTIN
—high school girlfriend, mother to Anthony Sowell’s daughter, Julie

KIM YVETTE LAWSON
—ex-wife, fellow Marine

LORI FRAZIER
—former live-in girlfriend, and niece of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson

Sowell’s Victims—Deceased

CRYSTAL DOZIER
—last seen May 2007

TISHANA CULVER
—last seen June 2008

LESHANDA LONG
—last seen August 2008

MICHELLE MASON
—last seen October 2008

TONIA CARMICHAEL
—last seen November 2008

KIM “CANDY” Y. SMITH
—last seen January 2009

AMELDA HUNTER
—last seen April 2009

NANCY COBBS
—last seen April 2009

TELACIA FORTSON
—last seen June 2009

JANICE WEBB
—last seen June 2009

DIANE TURNER
—last heard from September 2009

Sowell’s Victims—Alive

MELVETTE SOCKWELL
—assaulted by Sowell in July 1989

VANESSA GAY
—testified that Sowell raped her in September 2008 and that she saw a headless body in his home

GLADYS WADE
—assaulted by Sowell December 2008, testified against him

TANJA DOSS
—former friend whom Sowell turned on and assaulted when she visited his house in April 2009

LATUNDRA BILLUPS
—assaulted by Sowell in September 2009

SHAWN MORRIS
—claims she was assaulted by Sowell in October 2009

Police Officers and Lawyers

RICHARD BOMBIK
—Cuyahoga County Assistant District Attorney, prosecutor

PINKEY CARR
—Cuyahoga County Assistant District Attorney, prosecutor

RUFUS SIMS
—Sowell defense attorney

JOHN P. PARKER
—Sowell defense attorney

GEORGIA HUSSEIN
—Sex crimes unit, Cleveland Police Department

LEM GRIFFIN
—Homicide Detective, Cleveland Police Department

MELVIN SMITH
—Homicide Detective, Cleveland Police Department

CHARLES LOCKE
—Cleveland police officer, arrested Sowell on Halloween 2009

RONALD ROSS
—Cleveland police sergeant, tried to ID Sowell after he was arrested

MICHAEL BAUMILLER
—Cleveland police lieutenant, investigated Sowell as part of the sex crimes unit, Cleveland Police Department

I
NTRODUCTION

At the airport for my first visit to Cleveland to research this book, I got my car at Enterprise, and the fellow asked me what I was doing in town. I told him I was writing about Anthony Sowell, and he was fascinated.

“You know Jeffrey Dahmer grew up forty miles south of here,” he said, trying to get some serial-killer cred. “I know people who saw the tortured animal carcasses.”

At the Hampton Inn hotel downtown, the clerk asked me why I was in town. “Business or pleasure?” she asked sweetly.

I told her, and she too was intrigued. She knew every quirk of the story. “You know black serial killers are very rare,” she said. “This all happened just a few miles from here. He’s going to get the death penalty. He thinks he can act all crazy and get off, but no way. He was a smart guy.”

Then she added, “It gave Cleveland some attention that we didn’t want.”

On numerous occasions when I’ve been talking with a group or an individual, the question of criminal motivation comes up. Most people are beside themselves when trying to get inside the head of someone who has committed tragic and savage misdeeds, seeking the ever-elusive
why?
element.

I think of the line from Noah Cross, the character in the movie
Chinatown
played impeccably by John Huston. Cross is explaining to Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), the private investigator, that there is a reasonable explanation for the most depraved of conduct: “You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of
anything
.”

Anthony Sowell, like wife-killer Stephen Grant in my first book,
A Slaying in the Suburbs
, and Sarah Pender, the killer in my last book,
Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender
, was indeed capable of anything.

Sowell’s disarming, civilized speaking patterns belie a monster who killed compulsively and violently. He kept the bodies in his apartment, his basement, and his yard. The rotting corpses smelled, but he still kept them close, though he toiled with great attention to detail to keep the odors at bay, buying bags of limestone powder and wrapping the bodies in up to six layers of plastic. He actually
thought
about it deeply. Not that the stench bothered him personally—he had no problem eating McDonald’s
in a room just down the hall from where four dead bodies lay, with maggots and flies crawling on them. To him, the biggest problem was that the smell had the neighbors’ tongues wagging.

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