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Anthony Sowell: The Cleveland Strangler

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posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:01 AM
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Anthony Sowell, also known as the Cleveland Strangler, would go on to kill 11 woman, and rape many more. He was finally caught in October of 2009. This is the story.



Anthonys Earlier Life:

Anthony grew up in East Cleveland on Page Avenue to a single mother Claudia, whom had seven children total who all lived in the home. To make matters worse, Anthonys older sister who also had seven children of her own ended up moving in because she passed away after being sick for years. According to Anthony the household was abusive and chaotic. His niece who is one year younger than him, claims to have seen Claudia beat the kids while the other kids watched, and that she was even forced to strip naked in front of everyone on occasion as a form of punishment. She also said Anthony started sexually abusing her at the age of 11 and that is happened almost every single day for two years straight. He had two cousins that were twin sisters, Ramona and Leona. They both said that an adult would force them to strip completely naked and then tie them up and beat them with electrical cords. Both of the twins say they never witnessed Anthony himself get beaten, but that was always around to watch the beatings. Leona said he would even create trouble for the rest of siblings by drinking his Grandmothers Pepsi and starting fights, only to blame it on another sibling.In the documentary about this case, Sowell's sister recalls him once saying that he didn't feel his mother loved him. She say's she told him that was ridiculous, and believed it was HIM who didn't love her. That he didn't show much emotion to his mother, so his mother let him be to "do his thing."


According to another person that grew up with him, he was described as being the "kindest child you wanted to deal with" and that "he was always respectful." He was said to have been quiet and that he never started a conversation himself, but when someone would hello, he would say hello back. If he was asked a question, he would answer it and smile. He was also never known to have had a girlfriend, something his classmates said he was teased about on a regular basis, and that he would occasionally get angry. But one of his other cousins says that Anthony was no virgin. According to his cousin Leona, Anthony would take her to the upstairs bedroom and force her to engage in sex with him. Her sister Ramona said she never witnessed the rapes herself, but believes her sister fully. Leona tried to report what was happening to her but unfortunately was met with disbelief from the police. Leona is quoted saying "I don't think [the Imperial Avenue killings] would've ever happened if somebody would've listened to me." Anthony himself claimed to have been sexually abused by an adult in the household, though he says the memories are faded and blurry. But his siblings claim to have never seen anything like that happen to him.

At 18 year's old Sowell met a woman whom became pregnant with their child. He left her behind to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. In 1981 he ends up meeting a nice woman also in the Marines, and they decide to get married. This woman alleges she told her mother that she pitied Anthony, and was acting as a guardian to him so he wouldnt' start drinking again and ruin his military career. Strangely enough, Anthony was Honorable discharged after 7 year's in 1985 where Corporal Sowell received a Good Conduct Medal with one service star, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, a Certificate of Commendation, a Meritorious Mast, and two Letters of Appreciation. It was only then after leaving his strict and structured military life that something changed with Sowell and issues began to arise.

SOURCES:
www.cleveland.com... html
en.wikipedia.org...
blog.cleveland.com...
murderpedia.org...
serialkillers.briancombs.net...
www.cleveland.com...
www.cnn.com...

edit on Dec 6th 2018 by Djarums because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:03 AM
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First Incarceration:

It was then that Anthony would move into the infamous three story home at 12205 Imperial Avenue in the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. The home that would haunt the neighborhood for years to come.

It's 1989, and a woman named Melvette Sockwell who was about 3 months pregnant at the time decides to meet Anthony at a motel very close to his home.She says he seemed like a nice guy. But police ended up around the motel and it made her nervous, so she wanted to leave. She claims Anthony told her that her boyfriend was waiting for her at his home. So she walked over to his house and it was there he attacked her and raped her over and over again. Shouting at her the whole time and telling her that she was going to be his slave and she better learn to like it.He gagged her with a rag and tied her hands and feet together. She says “He choked me real hard because my body started tingling. I thought I was going to die.” Anthony fell asleep and she finally had a chance to escape. So she was able to untie herself and climb out of a window and go to the police. Sowell was then charged with attempted rape, rape, and kidnapping. He plead guilty to the attempted rape and then served 15 years in prison. While in prison it's said that he did attend 12 Step Meetings. He also signed up for Sex Offender meetings but ended up being turned down because he refused to admit that he himself was a sex offender. Despite this it seems he didn't stir up any major trouble in jail because it was noted he had no major violations, and only four small infractions. He did electrician work since he took courses while in the marines, and also was known to cook a lot in jail. But he had to deal with other inmates views on sexual offenses. A man named Carlton Pope who met him while in prison said "I shunned him because not only did he seem demented and a psychotic pervert, he carried the stigma of a convicted rapist," despite his attempts at parole he was denied every time because of the seriousness of his crime. He was still in prison in 2002 when he learned that his father passed away. Anthony even earned his GED and passed with a top score. He was released in 2005. Sowell would then work in a factory until 2007. He started receiving state benefits after leaving the factory. His neighbors said he would make extra money on the side by selling scrap metal. He even became a member of an online dating community claiming to be a "master" looking for a slave to "train."

After Prison:

After leaving prison it was then he resided in 12205 Imperial Avenue in the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. The home that would haunt the neighborhood for years to come. This was the home of his late fathers widow. He had to register as a sex offender, reporting to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office once a year until a 2008 federal law mandated that he had to check in every 90 days. He eventually began dating and one woman named Tanja Doss, 43, said she met Anthony in 2005 while living across the street from him. She said they would hang out and drink and barbecue, but that he would never actually tell her why he spent time in prison, and even went so far as to claiming he was only in prison because he took the rap for someone else. Tanja ended up seeing his dark side soon enough and was attacked by Anthony. But it wasn't everyone who thought he was a normal guy upon their first impression. Reginald McKay, who met Sowell in 2005, described Sowell at the time as: "Not crazy, but strange. Sort of quiet, mousy, sneaky, sort of." At one point, the Cleveland Mayor's own niece Lori Frazier began dating Sowell and even resided in the home with him for awhile. One of the few things she would say when news reporters met her is "He took good care of me," Frazier said. "Good care of me." She was said to have smelled what could only be described as decaying bodies. Sowell would blame the smell on his stepmother who lived in the home. When his stepmother passed away, he would cast blame on the Sausage Factory next door. She moved out of the home between 2007 and 2008.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:04 AM
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In March 2006 he even got a temporary job as a rubber molder in a factory, where he was said to have been a very good employee. But things would start to take a dark turn in 2007. Woman were going missing on or near Imperial Avenue at a fast rate, and nobody knew what was going on.

The smell in the neighborhood:

In 2007 neighbors start to complain of a strong and foul smell that seemed to always linger and could not figure out where it was coming from. Sowell happened to live right next door to a Sausage Factory, where eventually everyone assumed it had to be coming from. Which was odd because everyone who ever went inside the factory said it was spotless and always kept very clean and up to code. Even so, the factory started receiving citations and had to spend money on repairs and tickets because of the claims. They even replaced sewer lines and grease traps. But no matter what they did, the neighbors and everyone around the home could still smell the stench. One neighbor saying "We used to think that it was coming from out of Ray's Sausage," said one resident. "But you smell these smells, and I live right there and ... we used to come out here and oh, these smells would just be horrible." This was also the year that his relationship with Lori Frazier. Those who knew him said he was having a hard time with it. When he stopped showing up for work he was fired from the rubber factory. Around this same time, Crystal Dozier, who is believed to be his first victim at the Imperial Avenue house ends up going missing. This will also be the time that a neighbor would get a hold of the city councilman about the smell of rotting bodies. Anthony was a familiar face around town, often seen with a shopping cart like many others who would walk around town looking for scrap to sell in order to make ends meet. Kim Kempt, who knew him from the scrap metal business said he would invite them back to his house to smoke crack, drink, party, and barbecue. His half brother claims he started smoking crack soon after his 2005 release from prison. He would use this as a way to "help" local woman some believe, by inviting them to his home to smoke and hang out. We know of at least two woman who went to Anthonys house completely on there own free will to party and ended up seeing his aggressive side and making it out alive. The woman have said their time with Anthony would start out fun, but then became sinister when the drugs would run out, or if he was asked a question he took offense to. Doss claims when they ran out of crack to smoke, he turned violent and forced her to strip. She would then lay on the bed quiet and he would leave her alone. The woman all said that he was oddly calm after attacking them, almost acting as if nothing happened. He would even offer them money and food before they walked out the door.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:06 AM
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THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY:

A woman ends up going to Anthonys house to drink. She say's he soon started to tell her that he was going to rape and kill her and that she better remain quiet. When she started screaming, Anthony is said to have started running around the house trying to close the windows so nobody could hear her. It was then she seen an open window and an opportunity to escape. She says “I started talking to God,” she said. “And I told him I found myself in a predicament. I said, ‘In the great name of Jesus, please don’t let me die when I go out this window.’” She jumped out the window and Anthony grabbed her arms trying to pull her back inside, but when he realized he could not pull her up he threw her to the ground as hard as he could, and she landed in the space between Anthonys house and the neighbors. A few people witnessed her fall, including the neighbor. Anthony is then seen running to the side of the house naked, crab walking and crouching down so he isn't seen, and trying to help the woman get up and take her back inside. She is conscious at this point but very dazed and hurt from the fall. There was surveillance footage of the fall taken by a business across the street. Several people called an ambulance, and she says she does not remember being led away by Anthony at all, only remembering waking up in the hospital with broken hands and ribs and an aneurysm. When she woke, she asked a nurse to please call her husband, in which the nurse said "Your husband rode with you in the ambulance." and she replied "That was NOT my husband." She did not file charges. This happened days before police decided to show up investigating another rape he was accused of and ended up finding the dark secret Anthony was trying to hide.

On a September morning in 2008, Vanessa Gay met Anthony while she was sitting at a bus stop drinking beer. She had never met Anthony before, but seen him around many times. She says Anthony approached her and told her it was his birthday and that he had nobody to part with. Vanessa said she didn't celebrate birthdays but would not mind going back to his home to smoke and drink with him. On the walk to his house, she said they had a nice talk where he spoke about his time in the marines and how they both loved to cook. She said she didn't sense anything bad or off about Anthony at all. She said they entered through a staircase in the backyard and went all the way up to the third floor, where she says it was dark and musty and that "you could feel the gloom," Gay said. Then they sat on the bed while continuing to talk, and Anthony offered her to light the crack pipe. She say's right after he took the first hit, he turned around and punched her and told her to take off her clothes. He said if she put up a fight, he would throw her in a locked closet and forget about her. Then he started yelling about a woman who smoked crack that broke his heart, and how other woman who smoked crack did him wrong in the past, and that she "didn't deserve what he was about to do to her." Anthony went on to rape and beat her for hours and hours, until the next morning came and she asked to use the bathroom. In court, Vanessa describes how he watched her walk to the bathroom, and that she passed a room where she seen a body with no head in a sitting position against the wall, with the plastic pulled back so it was in full view. She states she tried to remain calm so he would not know that she seen it. Thoughts ran through her head where she felt it was certain that she was not leaving the house alive. But when she came back in the room, she managed to convince Anthony that he didn't do anything wrong. That it was just a little rough and she wasn't use to it, but that he didn't commit any crimes. So he let her leave, and followed her through the house and out the door. Where she said she remained next to him while walking, fearing if he got behind her he would kill her. She walked out the door, and when she was out of his sight she began to run. She stopped to call the police, where she told the dispatcher what just happened to her and she was seen. The dispatcher told her she would have to come to the police station to file her complaint.

But she was so traumatized after what she seen, that she walked back to the abandoned house she slept in, and instead slept for days and smoked crack to try and get rid of the memories and mental image of the dead body. A year later is when officers would come knocking on Anthonys door to question him about another woman's allegation, and would find his house of horrors. In 2010, Vanessa was seen before a judge on an open alcohol charge. She told her story and explained how she had tried to tell the police before. That is when the judge laughed and said "Shes just mad she didn't get to smoke with Anthony Sowell."



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:10 AM
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DISCOVERY:


On October 29th 2009, police show up to Anthonys home on Imperial Avenue to arrest him for the alleged rape occurred a month prior. He was not home, but they entered and found two bodies on the living room floor rotting. When he seen all the police vehicles in front of his home, he turned around and ran. He called his sister and told her to meet him on a street nearby. It is there that his sister claims he was short and only said "Whatever they find and accuse me of is the truth. I did it." He then walked away. The police found four other woman laying on the floor in the second story, a body in a shallow grave in the basement, a head sitting in a bucket in the basement, and in the backyard there were 3 other bodies buried in the ground and the remains of a fourth.

















VICTIMS:



On November 5th the first victim was identified as a woman named Tonia Carmichael. She was 53 years old when she disappeared a year earlier. Her body was located in the backyard and buried in the ground. It was stated she was strangled. She was reported missing by her mother in December 2008.

Also on November 5th they identified the second victim as being Telacia Fortson, 31 years old African american woman. She had went missing five months earlier but was only reported missing by her mother when she seen the news covering the bodies found in the home.

On November 8th, they were able to identify Crystal Dozier, whom was a 38 year old African american woman. She went missing in May of 2007. She was the mother of 7 children, and was a known drug user with a criminal record. She lived in the area and her family reported her missing to the Cleveland Police Department. Since it was not the first time she had went missing, the police never did investigate and claimed she would show up when the drugs ran out. So they posted fliers around town and called around to hospitals hoping to locate her.

Amy Hunter was a 47 year old African american woman. She was a beautician and had three children. She also had a criminal record and was known to have used drugs. Amy did not live in the area but she visited a lot. Her family didn't report her missing until they too seen police removing bodies from Anthonys home.

Michelle Mason, 45 year old African american woman, who was seen last sometime in October of 2008. She had a history of drug use and a criminal record. She was also a mother. She too lived in the area where her body was found. She did receive a full investigation when her family came in to report her missing.

Along with Diane Turner, 38. Kim Yvette Smith, 44. Janice Webb, 49. Nancy Cobbs, 43. Michelle Mason, 45. Leshanda Long, 25.






Many believe, including myself, that Anthony Sowell claimed the lives of many more woman. The party store across the street from Anthonys house claim to have went out to the dumpster to throw out trash when they smelled a strong scent of decay and seen trash bags tied up with duct tape inside that they did not put there. They assumed the family living in the apartment above the store put the body of their dead dog inside and asked if their dog was okay the next day in which they said the dog was fine and still alive. The party store owner never gave it another thought.

Other bodies had turned up near Anthonys home over the years before he was caught but were never linked to him with DNA. In May 1988, the body of 36-year-old Rosalind Garner was found in her home on Hayden Avenue, and she was strangled. Carmella Karen Prater, 27, a resident of Page Avenue and a suspected drug-user, was found in an abandoned home on First Avenue, just off Hayden, on Feb. 27, 1989. The cause of death is unknown. A month later, on March 28, the body of another suspected drug-user, Mary Thomas, 27, was found near an abandoned building, again on First Avenue.The red ribbon used to strangle Thomas was still around her neck. None of the cases is solved.





edit on 6-12-2018 by Jess_Undefined because: Photo Included



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 02:12 AM
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COURT:



After much deliberation at his court case, Judge Dick Ambrose announced that he would be deciding on the Death Penalty for Anthony Sowell. He showed very little emotion the entire time, only shedding a tear when his sister begged the jury to go easy on him saying that Anthony was one of the few family she had left. But police passed out tissues to the family of the victims who were all visibly upset and shaken. He was convicted on 82 counts: aggravated murder, kidnapping, corpse abuse and evidence tampering. His defense team would try to create doubt in the jury by speaking of his childhood and how his time spent in the army was without incident. Most of the victims were naked below the waist, strangled, and had coc aine in there system. They would be wrapped in garbage bags and sheets and left to rot. Jurors had the difficult job of listening to the testimony of those who knew him and those who got away. Including seeing photos of the victims rotted bodies on the autopsy table. At one point Anthony said to the courtroom "The only thing I want to say is I'm sorry," Sowell told the jury. "I know that might not sound like much, but I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart." The jury said it was obvious that the statement lacked any remorse and was rehearsed.



He never did end up being cross examined, so the questions that we all wonder about didn't get to be asked. Like why he killed these woman, how, and many other things that run through your mind when you read about this case. This case leaves little solace other than being glad he is off the streets so he cannot harm another woman again. But I cant help but think how the police department failed here. If the previous woman who escaped were taken seriously, maybe some of them would have been saved. They were dismissed not only because they were known crack addicts, but they were poor African american woman. Living on the edge of society and were able to disappear without authorities ever seeming concerned, even though it was happening way too often. Only then did these woman finally get any sort of justice. Anthony is still in prison awaiting his death. I would like to believe the woman who's lived were taken at his hands will stand next to that gurney when he gets puts to death and then have peace in the afterlife.




posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 05:31 AM
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Excellently put together.
Lots of information and time spent on this.
Great job OP!

One thing though - Spell check screwed ya over and changed Strangler to Stranger.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 06:24 AM
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The Mental Health institutes were drained of psycho's back then and people like him needed that help. No telling what made such a nice kid snap as an adult but something happened in 'Nam that did it I would believe.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 07:51 AM
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Thank you! I finally sat down last night and spent 4 hours getting it done! Darn autocorrect.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 07:52 AM
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a reply to: Justoneman

A lot of people believe his girlfriend leaving him is what set it off. Either way I don't think the military or any woman excuses what he did. In this case I truly believe he was born this way and was going to end up committing these crimes no matter what.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 05:37 PM
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originally posted by: Jess_Undefined
a reply to: Justoneman

A lot of people believe his girlfriend leaving him is what set it off. Either way I don't think the military or any woman excuses what he did. In this case I truly believe he was born this way and was going to end up committing these crimes no matter what.


Oh I wouldn't want to be thought to making excuses. Something bad happened that triggered this is my experience. But either way, he was a very ugly spirit.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 08:10 PM
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a reply to: Justoneman


Oh for sure. It seems that having the structure in the military really helped, so he didn't have idle hands. I don't think the alcohol and drugs were the cause because he was doing those things before he even started using. If you notice, all the woman except one were older in there 40s and African American. Some people think because he felt his mother didn't love him that he was killing woman who looked like his mother. I can't say his longtime girlfriend leaving was the cause either because he killed before he met her. So its something where I just think he had the killing gene of some sort.

I also noticed the woman he let leave decided to remain calm and go along with everything and assure him they would not go to police. Which makes me wonder did he kill the other woman out of necessity? Was it a means to an end because they fought back and said they would call for help? It did not appear that he ate the bodies, used the bodies sexually, or was even fascinated with the bodies. So it may be that they just fought back and he felt he had too kill them. This case always had me thinking.

Especially because it seemed these woman were going to have sex with him voluntarily. So why he needed to abuse and rape them is beyond me. He did tell Vanessa Gay that he just had "insatiable sexual urges." Also the fact he was on a dating site looking for a submissive tells me he wanted the woman in fear and to hurt them in order to enjoy it.

Either way I cant feel bad for him even an ounce, because if you watch the part of the trail where the victims read impact statements, he has his eyes closed the entire time and leans back, almost to mock that he is sleeping. Which is SO beyond disrespectful that I am totally surprised he didn't at least fake sympathy because he was in front of the jurors deciding his fate and displaying complete disrespect like an idiot. The only time he shed a tear was when his own sister pleaded to the jury to go easy because "he is one of the few family I have left."



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 09:45 PM
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a reply to: Jess_Undefined

Awesome thread Jess, read the whole story.
Very scary and crazy stuff.

I think everyone dropped the ball on this guy for a long time. Which is odd because I don't feel like I can get away with jaywalking half the time.

I haven't seen you in years...
Glad to see you still around.



posted on Dec, 6 2018 @ 09:56 PM
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originally posted by: Jess_Undefined
a reply to: Justoneman

A lot of people believe his girlfriend leaving him is what set it off. Either way I don't think the military or any woman excuses what he did. In this case I truly believe he was born this way and was going to end up committing these crimes no matter what.


That's dangerous though and becomes a slippery slope.

Being a natural born killer, maybe we can brainscan babies and abort them early?

Im sure mom will disagree with the forced abortion but new science predicts who was born a killer and who is born a good guy.

Or what? We'd allow a known natural born killer off on his own to do who knows what? Don't think so.

This is the film Gattaca crossed with Minority Report, eugenics predict pre-crime blah blah blah.

To be absolutely safe, I will disagree and claim that murder isn't biological or genetic at all. Instead it is purely mental and emotional, and given the right course of events + lack of moral education + environment and any of us are capable of cold blooded killing.

Otherwise we would be wise to go ahead and start aborting all the killers while they are babies before it's too late and they murder rape us.

Either or.
I prefer my claim due to simplicity and avoiding a very questionable "cleansing program".



posted on Dec, 7 2018 @ 12:01 PM
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a reply to: muzzleflash

Thank you! This was my comeback thread haha. Well I kept trying to log in over the years and I guess I was missing the underscore in my username, so DJ helped me with that. I'm back to stay and I missed you and everyone else.



posted on Dec, 7 2018 @ 01:00 PM
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a reply to: muzzleflash

You make a good point. After some thought I should clarify. I think he was born with this "Insatiable sexual urge" that he mentioned to the woman. Then as a kid when he realized he could rape his nieces, and get away with it at that, it fed that urge even more. I don't think he went into this WANTING to murder anyone, but he definitely wanted to rape woman. I think killing them was a means to an end. Otherwise there would have been nobody that would have escaped.

I think the environment and city in which he lived allowed him to get away with it. During that time, almost everyone was using crack and living in poverty. So people had there own issues they had to focus on and were not paying attention. Mix that with the fact that addicts often go months without contacting anyone. The fact that the police department was underfunded, and they were African American crack addicts, it created a very sad mix of nobody giving a crap where they went and what happened to them. Something Anthony himself must also have had realized, since he told some of them that nobody could hear them scream and that nobody cared.

The families ended up getting a $1 million dollar settlement to split among them due to the incompetence of the police. But I feel that number is FAR LESS than what they deserved.



posted on Dec, 8 2018 @ 05:17 AM
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a reply to: Jess_Undefined




Anthony grew up in East Cleveland on Page Avenue to a single mother Claudia, whom had seven children total who all lived in the home. To make matters worse, 


"To make matters worse"? What was so bad about that?



posted on Dec, 8 2018 @ 05:42 AM
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a reply to: Jess_Undefined

Looking at the Polaroids of those victims... Man thats crazy he kept pictures of them with their names written on it, and you can see blood stains all over them... And it almost looks like the same pattern on each photo...man this guy was so obsessive he must have killed each victim in the exact same way... Somehow that makes it creepier for me... *shudder*



posted on Dec, 8 2018 @ 05:06 PM
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a reply to: 3n19m470

Because his sister passed away, and im sure nobody wants to see a sister pass away. Not to mention that would make 14 kids living under the same roof so privacy was likely few and far between. Does that explain it?



posted on Dec, 8 2018 @ 05:15 PM
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a reply to: 3n19m470

I am going to assume you are screwing with me at this point. But for the sake of clarification, those "photos" were not taken by Anthony Sowell. That is a graphic that someone made online to give a face to the names of victim. All the photos were given from family members or missing person posters. The Polaroid quality is just an effect, and the "blood spatter" is not blood at all, it's just an aging effect to the Polaroid look. I've read a lot about this case over the years and never did it seem he was obsessed with their dead bodies, nor did he ever take photos of them.

But it was determined that he DID kill them all in the same way, with was by strangling them.



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