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Anthony Sowell's Cleveland "House of Horrors": Search Resumes, So Does Stench of Dead Bodies

5682029Photo: Residents gather outside Anthony Sowell's home Nov. 16, 2009.

CLEVELAND(CBS/AP) Anthony Sowell's Cleveland "House of Horrors" is going back under the microscope this week as police investigating the discovery of 11 victims at the scene renewed digging at the property and an adjacent backyard Wednesday.

Investigators hauled out evidence bags as they pursued clues provided by an FBI high-tech sweep. The horrible stench around the sex offender's home returned as well.

(CBS/ AP)
Photo: Anthony Sowell.

PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

Armed with search warrants to dig by hand, agents began the grim task of unearthing "areas of interest" identified last week by FBI thermal-imaging and radar technology.

Thermal imaging can detect heat sources like decomposing materials and loosely packed ground that might indicate a grave. Dirt that has been turned over radiates heat differently than compacted soil.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Photo: Cleveland Police carry evidence bags from behind the house next to Anthony Sowell's Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.

PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

In addition, Sowell's home will be examined with a bomb squad X-ray apparatus and miniature probing cameras, police Lt. Thomas Stacho said.

Investigators, two dressed in white Hazmat protective suits and others wearing plastic gloves, worked in the backyard of Sowell's house and an adjacent yard.

(AP)
Photo: Neighbors look at memorial across street from Anthony Sowell's Imperial Ave., Cleveland home, Nov. 11, 2009.

PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

At least eight evidence bags, one oversized, were loaded into a coroner's office vehicle. There was no immediate word on what was seized by investigators working with shovels.

In front of the neatly painted house, two investigators removed a wooden grill from the side of the porch and crawled under. A police command post was parked outside the house, which has remained taped off and under 24-hour police guard as a crime scene.

Sowell, a 50-year-old former Marine, has been charged with five counts of aggravated murder and, separately, with rape and kidnapping in an alleged Sept. 22 attack that led to the initial search of his home Oct. 29. He served 15 years in prison for a 1989 attempted rape.

On Saturday, FBI agents used rakes and shovels in Sowell's backyard, crawled beneath the front porch and removed bricks and other debris. An agent marked locations with orange paint, apparently for closer investigation.

One day earlier, agents worked at a house next door to Sowell's, doing thermal imaging, X-rays and other tests.

Police discovered the first two bodies and a freshly dug grave after officers came to investigate a woman's report that she had been raped there. Sowell had fled the home and was arrested two days later.

Ten of the 11 victims, all women, have been identified. All were black and many were homeless or living alone and had drug or alcohol addictions.

Sowell has been accused of luring women to his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs. Authorities say he then strangled them and left their bodies in his house or buried in the backyard, apparently creating a recurring stench often blamed on a nearby sausage shop.

Cleveland is now turning its attention to the living. The nonprofit Cleveland Rape Crisis Center has set up a hot line in hopes of hearing from any surviving victims of Sowell.

Women who might have been attacked by Sowell need to hear that "it wasn't their fault, that we were in the midst of a maniac, and it's just not their fault," was the message of Tammy Davis, 44, who lives two blocks away from Sowell's house.

In Sowell's neighborhood, some people said Tuesday that community and family attitudes toward so-called "throwaway" street addicts must change to make them feel comfortable reporting a rape.

Cleveland police do not have any specific initiative to identify more possible living Sowell rape victims, Lt. Thomas Stacho said. Chief Michael McGrath has addressed community gatherings to stress that any victim will get police help, no matter what their personal history.


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PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

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