EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Authorities responding to a report of a foul odor from a home ultimately discovered three bodies and arrested a registered sex offender who sent police and volunteers through a poor neighborhood Sunday in a search for more victims, officials said.
East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts had cautioned searchers to be prepared to find one or two more victims. But after a daylong search of 40 abandoned houses and other areas, no more were found.
Spotts identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Madison, who was arrested Friday. He said Madison was expected to be formally charged Monday, but did not elaborate.
One body was found Friday in a garage. Two others were found Saturday -- one in a backyard, the other in the basement of a vacant house.
The bodies, believed to be female and all wrapped in plastic bags, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities believed the victims were killed in the past six to 10 days.
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Mayor Gary Norton said the suspect has indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of murdering 11 women and sentenced to death.
Searchers rummaging through vacant houses in the same neighborhood yesterday were warned by Spotts to brace themselves for the smell of rotting bodies and to look out for trash bags that might conceal a body.
Norton said authorities have "lots of reasons" to suspect there are more victims, but he refused to say why.
The bodies were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said. He said detectives continue to interview the suspect, who used his mother's address in Cleveland in registering as a sex offender, the mayor said.
Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said the bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition and 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 a decade ago were found captive in a run-down house. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has pleaded not guilty to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes.