Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony Sowell: The Cleveland Strangler

A Crime Reported


Anthony Sowell
Anthony Sowell

One night in December 2008, a woman waved police down on Kinsman Road and East 116th Street. She was covered in blood.

Gladys Wade, now 41, told the officers that Anthony Sowell had invited her in for a beer when she passed by on her way to one of the neighborhood's small corner grocery stores. When she declined, Sowell attacked her. She said he dragged her upstairs, strangling her so hard that she blacked out. When she came to, she said, she found that he'd forced her out of her clothing, and was choking her and trying to rape her.

She struggled free and tried to get help at a nearby restaurant. She begged the people there to call 911, only to hear be told to go outside and use the pay phone. Sowell caught up to her there, angrily told neighbors that he'd caught her trying to rob his house and went back home.

When Wade finally flagged down the beat cops, they sent her to the hospital in an ambulance. She'd badly cut her thumb on a shard of glass from a window that broke during her struggle with Sowell and needed stitches.

The cops went to check out the scene at Imperial and 123rd. Tracks in the snow around the entrance to Sowell's house suggested a struggle. There was a bloody tissue nearby, and blood covered the steps. They detained Sowell.

After getting stitched up, Wade talked to Detective Georgia Hussein. She would later relate that Hussein had told her it was just Wade's word against Sowell's, and that for all anyone knew it was just as possible that Wade had been the one to attack Sowell.

Sowell was released two days later, and no search of his residence was made. At least five more women would disappear before his 2009 arrest.

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