East Cleveland search

Police told volunteers checking vacant houses in an East Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood where three bodies were found wrapped in plastic bags that there could be more victims. Above, volunteer searcher Calvin Brooks. (Tony Dejak / Associated Press / July 21, 2013)

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Officials scoured a Cleveland suburb for bodies Sunday after the discovery of three women's decomposing remains, sparking fears of more victims.

Law enforcement officials feared that a Cleveland man who was arrested Friday after a standoff with police may have been influenced by a local serial killer who in 2011 was convicted of murdering 11 women, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told Associated Press.

The man's arrest resulted from the standoff. He has not been charged in connection with the recent slayings.

Before the man's arrest Friday in the suburb of East Cleveland, officials found a dead woman wrapped in plastic in a nearby garage, a local ABC affiliate reported.

Then, on Saturday, two more women's bodies, also wrapped in plastic, were discovered nearby.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's said Sunday that the women's bodies were in a state of "advanced decomposition" and that determining their identification and cause of death could take days.

Police in East Cleveland, a city of about 17,000 residents, did not return a message seeking comment Sunday.

At a Saturday news conference, police said they believe all three victims were killed within the last six to 10 days, ABC-5 reported.

According to AP, East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts told searchers Sunday that the bodies discovered were in a fetal position and wrapped in garbage bags.

The chief told searchers they might find "one or two" more victims, AP said.

“He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, [Anthony] Sowell might be an influence,” Mayor Norton told AP of the suspect.

Sowell, sometimes known as the "Cleveland Strangler," was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women, after several bodies were discovered in his home in 2009. Sowell was sentenced to death and is appealing his convictions.


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