Anthony Sowell, who terrorized the city of Cleveland with a macabre series of murders and hid the decomposing bodies of 11 Black women at his home, died on Monday of an undisclosed terminal illness, a spokeswoman for Ohio’s corrections agency said. He was 61.
Mr. Sowell, who had been on death row since 2011, was admitted last month to an end-of-life care unit at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, a facility run by the Department of Rehabilitation & Correction, the spokeswoman, JoEllen Smith, said in an email on Monday night. She did not elaborate on Mr. Sowell’s medical diagnosis, other than to say that it was not Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Mr. Sowell had been designated a “sexually violent predator” by the criminal justice system in Ohio after being convicted in 2011 of 11 counts of murder, as well as attempted murder, kidnapping, rape, assault and corpse abuse.
The decomposing bodies of the victims were found in Mr. Sowell’s house and in his yard on the city’s East Side.
At the time of his arrest in 2009, relatives of his victims had expressed anger that Mr. Sowell, who had previously spent 15 years in a state prison for luring a 21-year-old woman into his home, then choking and raping her, had gone undetected. He was released from prison in 2005 in that case.
They also had complained that their attempts to get the police to open missing persons cases had been unsuccessful.
When Mr. Sowell was arrested, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. But that could not keep him from being sent to death row.
Over the years, lawyers for Mr. Sowell, the most notorious serial killer in Cleveland’s history, mounted several unsuccessful attempts to overturn his death sentence.