Local leaders and law enforcement have been saying little about the nature, scope, and timeline of the investigation. Ideastream's Brian Bull and Bill Rice review the most readily available facts.
Rice: For 90.3, I'm Bill Rice. All three women found murdered in East Cleveland this weekend have been identified. This morning, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner officially confirmed 18-year-old Shirellda Terry as the third victim found near the intersection of 139th and Shaw Avenue. Previously, authorities confirmed the identities of 38-year-old Angela Deskins and 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley. All were found coiled in fetal positions inside trash bags, not far from where suspect Michael Madison lived.
Ideastream’s Brian Bull has been following the case. He joins us in studio.
Brian, there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding this case. How would you describe the flow of information from authorities?
Bull: Law enforcement and the East Cleveland administration have all been very tight-lipped, Bill. They say it’s to protect the progress of the investigation, but many reporters – including myself – aren’t entirely sure what’s to protect at this point. There’s no sign as of yet that Madison had an accomplice or partner, and investigators with cadaver-sniffing dogs have found only three bodies in the vicinity of where Madison lived. People want to know if the victims were all somehow previously connected to Madison or each other, and what his motivations were, and that information is slow in coming.
Rice: What do we know of the victims so far, Brian?
Bull: We know 18-year-old Shirellda Terry disappeared two weeks ago, from a summer job at East Clark Elementary School. She was last seen about a mile away from where her body turned up near Michael Madison’s home. She was the first body discovered, after a nearby cable company employee complained of a strong odor coming from the garage where she was stashed. The family says she was home-schooled, had few friends, was devout….she regularly attended Bible Study.
Rice: And Angela Deskins, who was the first victim identified – 38 years old, found in the basement of a vacant home just a stone’s throw from Madison’s apartment …
Bull: Yep… last seen June 7th…roughly 7 miles’ drive away from where she was discovered. At an earlier news conference, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton spoke highly about the Deskins family, as a family of businesspeople and entrepreneurs, who always made sure Angela had a place to lay her head and was supported.
Rice: And finally, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley…
Bull: Yes, police found her body in a grassy field between where Terry and Deskins were discovered. She has a minor rap sheet from the past year, with indictments for felonious assault, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, and discharge of a firearm on or near a prohibited area. This case was dismissed late last year.
Rice: This is a matter of public record…
Bull: …yes, and I offer it only as some background to Sheeley, not to cast negative aspersions. If anything, I think it speaks to many of the challenges she and other inner-city residents face. She lost a brother, Dontel, to gun violence last December, so obviously this has been very trying for the family.
Rice: And he also had a criminal record.
Rice: So what happens now, Brian?
Bull: Madison is now in Cuyahoga County Jail, a grand jury should be handing down its indictment within a few weeks’ time. As said earlier, investigators and authorities are saying little beyond what’s already been shared at news conferences…I talked to former County Prosecutor Bill Mason today, and he suggested that there’s more going on than we know….whether that’s gathering more evidence, analyzing what they’ve already gathered, or talking to more witnesses. We know that East Cleveland police, Cleveland police, the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation are all involved. And of course, many East Cleveland residents are dealing with grief, shock, and anger over the murder of these three women, and are hoping that no more bodies are found.
Rice: Thanks, Brian.
Bull: You’re welcome, Bill.