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The Sound of Ideas

The Case of Anthony Sowell

Posted Thursday, November 5, 2009

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Suspected serial murderer Anthony Sowell has been ordered held without bond. The registered sex offender is suspected of having killed ten or more women. The case has traumatized a local neighborhood and captured the world's attention. Thursday morning at 9, join host Dan Moulthrop for the latest on the Sowell case, its implications for local law enforcement, and how that East side neighborhood is coping.

Photo Gallery

photo of neighbors and media across the street from Sowell residence Sowell residence

Tags

Other, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement

Guests

Mike Tobin Metro Editor, The Plain Dealer
Councilman Zachary Reed Ward 3, City of Cleveland
Judy Martin, founder, Survivors/Victims of Tragedy

Additional Information

WCPN news coverage
Plain Dealer coverage
Search sexual offenders in your neighborhood, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office

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Please follow our community discussion rules when composing your comments.

Reihonna Frost 10:50 AM 11/5/09

I am glad to hear you discussing this situation as a result of race and class. I work with families throughout Cleveland. It is easy for those of us far enough away from this community to separate ourselves from this situation. I would just ask anyone listening to this program to imagine for a moment that they or a family member had been choked and raped. When would you expect the police to arrive? All of us would want the police to be there immediately. We would want to be rushed to the hospital, have our famiy protected, the perpetrator apprehended, our neighborhood alerted. Wouldn’t you expect that for yourself or your daughter? I would. The people living in the 44120 community certainly don’t expect that, because they know it won’t happen.

Edward in Stow 11:32 AM 11/5/09

11-5-2009 Thur

Sorry for coming late into the Anthony Sowel discussion, I have some comments, and I won’t call them “questions” as so many others do;

Councilman Zachary Reed and his base have been asking how someone in their neighborhood could get away with serial killings, but perhaps they should look at the situation from the other side;

Serial Killers are transients and often end up residing in places where they won’t be found out for a long time, then move on before they are caught.  Likewise, they tend to prey on victims who they know won’t be missed for at least not a while.

If Councilman Reed and other residents of the E. 123rd & Imperial neighborhood are asking “why us?” they might try looking into the Case of John Wayne Gacy.  Sowel’s acts may have been unusually brutal, but were hardly unique.

Oh, by the way; speaking of race, Sowel’s case shows the gap between blacks and whites is narrowing:

With few exceptions, most all serial killers have been white males.

Sheila 5:09 PM 11/9/09

As I listened to the show yesterday, I am deeply saddened by what has culminated into one of the most tragic moments in our community’s history.

First, let me say that without all of the facts, it is difficult to truly analyze this horrific ordeal in a balanced or altruistic manner.

Still, I would like to point out some very basic ideas that we might want to keep in mind as we begin to unravel this unimaginable experience.

I want to begin by referencing a caller from yesterday who implied that class and race played a major role in the lack of due diligence regarding these missing people. She also indicated that what many perceive as blatant disregard from the police would not have occurred in Westlake or some other suburban community.

Here, the public learned that Anthony Sowell is a serial killer only because we discovered 11 bodies stored throughout his property. If the ongoing investigation reveals that victims are from the same general area, there is a strong argument that the trend should have raised flags before he was captured.

Typically, residents in communities like Westlake or Beachwood seem more comfortable placing demands on officials or public servants. There is a heightened expectation, a sense of entitlement if you will, to have their needs and their interests served. Traditionally, in poorer communities, people have been forced to expect or accept sub par service.

There is also something to be said about affinity relationships in suburban communities. It often appears that people in close proximity with those who provide support and protection tend to benefit more from those relationships than others.

Moreover, it’s almost predictable that a very basic analysis will show that this perception of apathy stems from a long history that exploits devalues and marginalizes African American women. It’s difficult to get some people this society to treat our First Lady with the kind of dignity and respect she deserves; it’s not stretch of the imagination that poor black women who might have lived transient lives are likely to be disregarded. For example, when referencing one of the victim’s who survived Sowell’s pathology, a high ranking public official referred to her as a “Gal.” I don’t think the reference was meant to disparage the victim, but typically that term has been used to reference women of lower class and black women often find it offensive.

If it must be said, then I will say it, Yes, a slew of people dropped the ball here. It’s easy to point blame at the police, or various city departments.  But one group that should not be blamed, are the victims. In fact, I need to quickly reference a plain dealer piece by Mark Puente entitled, Time Gap in Investigation of Rape Complaint against Anthony Sowell Questioned, where one of Sowell’s victims was characterized as an “elusive victim.” According to the article, allegedly, the detective assigned to the rape case defended his inaction by stating that he could not contact the victim. While there doesn’t need to be a lot of finger pointing, there also shouldn’t be any passing the buck from those who, one might argue, failed to do their job, to those who suffered as a result. If the article has any real weight, it doesn’t matter if the victim was “elusive” for the purpose of investigation; the man she identified was not elusive. He was a known sex offender with a HISTORY of violence against women. If the article is grounded in truth, the victim’s elusiveness did not preclude the detective from at least knocking on Sowell’s door and asking some questions. It’s not like she said someone jumped out of the bushes. Sowell was right where the detective could find him all along.

This aside, this story has affected us all. As a resident of Cleveland I have residential and communal proximity. As a woman, the idea of abuse and violence towards women touches my core. As an African American, the all too familiar sense of being forgotten wells up in my heart. As a person from a humble background, the sense of powerlessness to effect how others in authority treat me reinforces my drive to achieve. As a mother and a daughter, I ache for the mothers and daughters who have to live this horror show in the public eye. As a survivor of sexual abuse, my insight to feelings of being objectified and devalued creates empathy for these women. And as person who has been trained to think like a lawyer, I am cautious to position myself on any one side of an argument. I understand that there must a series of discussions and follow through. I understand that emotions alone will not honor the lives of these women. I realize that there must be policy and social changes to prevent acts of this magnitude from occurring in our communities.

antoinettemichelle 9:23 PM 11/11/09

I think its truly sad what happened to all of these woman.. the world is a crazy place. this just comes to show that u have to be aware of your surroundings at all times!

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