Michael Madison, 35, was charged with three counts each of aggravated murder and kidnapping. He didn’t enter a plea at a brief court appearance where bail was set at $6 million. He also waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
A call to police led authorities to a home and a standoff with the man, who was eventually taken into custody, according to East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton. The mayor also said the suspect indicated he might have been influenced by the earlier case of a Cleveland serial killer, Anthony Sowell, convicted in the deaths of 11 women. Madison took time to place each of the women in the fetal position before wrapping the bodies in trash bags. “It didn’t look like a person could actually fit in the bag,” said East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts.
The neighborhood in East Cleveland has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough with their search, the mayor said. Police, FBI, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department went through yards and abandoned houses over about three blocks and used dogs trained to find cadavers. In addition about three dozen volunteers, including community anti-crime activists, fanned out Sunday morning across yards, through vacant houses and along a railroad to help police search. The chief advised them to watch for missing floor boards as they looked inside houses. One young searcher crawled under a board screwed across a door to go inside a house to search.
The first body was found in a garage Friday. Two others were found Saturday – one in a weeded backyard lot and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies, all women, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities say the victims were killed in the previous six to 10 days.
Authorities said they had identified only one of the victims, Angela Deskins, who was believed to be 38 years old. The other two bodies were too badly decomposed to identify. Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said Sunday that the bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition and that it would take several days to identify them and how they died
It’s the third recent high-profile case in the Cleveland area that involves missing women. In May, three women who separately vanished about a decade ago were found captive in a run-down house. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has been charged with nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes and has pleaded not guilty. In 2009, Sowell was arrested after a woman escaped from his house and said she had been raped there. Police found the mostly nude bodies of 11 women throughout the home. He was found guilty in 2011 and sentenced to death.
Madison is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty to attempted rape in 2002, was ordered held in lieu of $6 million bail. Judge William Dawson said the bail he set in East Cleveland Municipal Court represented $1 million for each count.
Madison was arrested on Saturday at his mother’s home, after authorities found the three bodies near the apartment building where he lived. Neighbors’ complaints of a pungent smell triggered the search.
Handcuffed and wearing a thin purple jumpsuit and a diamond-like earring, Madison quietly told the judge he understood the charges against him. Madison, his head close shaven and beard trimmed, declined to enter a plea and waived a preliminary hearing. His case will now be transferred to Cuyahoga County Court. Authorities said he would be taken to the Cuyahoga County jail, where Ariel Castro is being held.
Spotts told CNN affiliate WEWS that authorities have received tips from the public and hope to get more. “A lot of people knew him and saw that he was a troubled individual and now, you know, we’re getting tips from even females saying that they were in his house and they got away, but never said anything,” he said.
East Cleveland, years ago known as an elite little city, 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. At this time all we know for sure is these senseless acts have just reduced the city’s residence by 3 young women and that one sick man is now off the streets and in custody.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)