A notorious Cleveland serial killer known as the “Cleveland Strangler” died in prison custody at an area hospital Monday, more than a decade after police discovered the decomposing bodies of 11 women on his property.
Anthony Sowellm, 61, died Monday at 3:27 p.m. at the Franklin Medical Center, JoEllen Smith, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, confirmed to Oxygen.com. Smith said he had been moved to the medical center on Jan. 21 for a “terminal illness.” Although she declined to provide additional details, she said the death was not related to COVID-19.
Sowell’s case drew international headlines after police discovered the decomposing remains of 11 women scattered throughout his property —some buried in shallow graves, others in a crawl space of the home and others laying in open air—in 2009 while investigating a rape allegation from another woman, Cleveland.com reports. One skull was found laying in a bucket in the basement of his home.
Sowell targeted vulnerable women he was able to lure to Mount Pleasant home, before raping and strangling them. Sowell also attacked other women who had managed to survive their harrowing ordeals.
He was convicted in 2011 on 81 counts, including aggravated murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to death for the heinous crimes.
“I am glad he is dead. God made it happen. I will never ever, ever forgive him,” Donnita Carmichael, whose daughter Tonia Carmichael was one of Sowell’s numerous victims, told local station WJW after hearing of his death Monday.
Joann Moore, whose sister Janice Webb was killed by Sowell, told the outlet his death will finally provide the family some closure.
“We can go on because he’s dead,” she said. “We don’t have to hear about him anymore.”
The city of Cleveland paid out more than $1.3 million to victims and their families to settle lawsuits criticizing how local law enforcement had handled the case, with some surviving women claiming that police had failed to take their accusations seriously and other families arguing that the missing persons cases were never given the proper attention they deserved, Cleveland.com reports.
Sowell’s former home was demolished in 2011 by the city of Cleveland, CBS News reports.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.