National News

Suspected Ohio serial killer spent time in N.C.

Posted November 5, 2009 2:57 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2009 4:54 p.m. EST

— The Ohio man who lived in a house where at least 11 dead bodies have been found spent time in the Marines, serving at Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina during the 1970s, service records show.

Police have recovered 10 bodies and a skull from the home and yard of 50-year-old Anthony Sowell, a registered sex offender who moved back to his family's house in 2005 after serving 15 years in prison for attempted rape. He is being held without bond on five counts of aggravated murder.

Sowell's military personnel file shows he entered the U.S. Marine Corps in January 1978 and served until January 1985. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune from May to July 1978 then transferred to Cherry Point for 20 months before serving in the Pacific. He returned to Cherry Point from April 1981 to December 1983.

Of the bodies found at Sowell's home, only one victim has been identified so far – 52-year-old Tonia Carmichael of Warrensville Heights.

Area pastors urged the families of missing people Thursday to provide DNA samples that could help the coroner's office identify the remains, claiming that nearly two dozen others are still missing in the community. The coroner's office, meanwhile, tried to calm concerns by promising DNA samples would not be shared with law enforcement.

Police Chief Michael McGrath says Carmichael's remains were buried in the back yard and had marks indicating she was strangled.

McGrath said police searched their missing-persons database a few days ago and found 14 missing black women between ages 25 and 60 in that neighborhood.

Investigators are cross-referencing those missing women with the remains at coroner's office, he said. Some of the cases date back several years.

The police chief said he had no idea whether investigators would find more bodies.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brian Murphy has said Sowell could face the death penalty if convicted of the aggravated murder counts. Sowell also faces charges of rape, felonious assault and kidnapping after a Sept. 22 attack on a woman at his home.