Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony Sowell: The Cleveland Strangler

And Then Another


In April 2009 Tanja Doss, 43, agreed to go to Anthony Sowell's place for a beer. Although Doss knew that Sowell had been in prison, she didn't know why. In fact, most people in his neighborhood didn't know that this seemingly nice guy was a convicted sex offender. Once she got to his room, he snapped, she later said. According to Doss, Sowell choked her and threatened to kill her.

He demanded that she knock three times on the floor if she wanted to live.

Anthony Sowell
Anthony Sowell

He told her that no one would miss her, that no one would even notice she was gone.

He made her strip, but didn't rape her because they both passed out.

In the morning he seemed normal and asked her if she could use anything from the store. She casually called her daughter, then lied to Sowell telling him that her granddaughter had the flu and that had to get home. He went to the store alone and let her go on her way.

Doss was afraid to call police, because of an old drug charge on her record, a decision she later regretted. Later that same April her best friend, Nancy Cobbs, disappeared. Doss and others searched abandoned buildings for her and put up flyers, which, it is worth noting, seemed to disappear, but never did it occurr to her to suspect Anthony Sowell — until his November arrest.

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