Anthony Sowell, Ohio


Updated: Friday, February 12, 2021

On Monday, February 8, 2021, Anthony Edward Sowell, a/k/a “The Cleveland Strangler,” was pronounced dead at the Franklin Medical Center, where he was being treated for a terminal illness.  It has been confirmed that his death was unrelated to COVID-19.  Anthony was 61 years of age. 

Updated: Monday, November 16, 2020

Anthony Edward Sowell, a/k/a “The Cleveland Strangler,” was scheduled to be executed at 10 am on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, inside the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. His execution has been stayed. Sixty-one-year-old Anthony is convicted of murdering 11 women: 38-year-old Crystal Dozier, 31-year-old Tishana Culver, 25-year-old Leshanda Long, 45-year-old Michelle Mason, 53-year-old Tonia Carmichael, 43-year-old Nancy Cobbs, 47-year-old Amelda Hunter, 31-year-old Telacia Fortson, 49-year-old Janice Webb, 44-year-old Kim Yvette Smith, and 38-year-old Diane Turner. They were killed during a two-year span between 2007 and October 2009, in Cleveland, Ohio. Anthony has spent the last nine years of his life on death row in Ohio.

Anthony alleged that he was abused as child by his mother, who would beat him with an extension cord. His father was not involved in his life. Anthony also allegedly witnessed his nieces, who also lived with him and his mother, being whipped daily. Anthony did not graduate high school, and, at the age of 19, he joined the Marine Corps, where he was trained as an electrician. He served for seven years, including serving two years overseas. During his time as a Marine, Anthony received a Good Conduct Medal, among other awards and numerous rank promotions.

In 1989, Anthony was accused of raping a three-month pregnant woman and tying her up before falling asleep, allowing her to escape. Anthony was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Due to the violent nature of the crime, Anthony was repeatedly denied parole and served all 15 years in prison. While in prison, Anthony earned his high school diploma. After being released from prison, Anthony worked several different jobs, including as a machinist and as a cook, a skill he learned his prison.


On October 28, 2009, the Cleveland Police Department investigated a rape complaint against Anthony Sowell by obtaining an arrest warrant for Sowell and a warrant to search his home. Police executed the warrants the following day, however Sowell was not home. Executing the search warrant, police discovered two decomposing female bodies on the third floor of the home.


Police obtained another warrant to resume searching, this time with the help of a cadaver dog and personnel from the coroner’s office. Two more bodies were discovered on the third floor, one in the basement, and one more in a back yard.


On October 31, Sowell was arrested after his location was passed along to the police by a member of the public who recognized Sowell from the news broadcasts.


On November 3, a third warrant was obtained to search Sowell’s home. This time, police arranged for a backhoe to be brought to the property. Four more bodies were discovered on the property and a skull was found in a bucket. Each body was identified. The skull was also identified, although no other parts of her body were located. In total, police located 10 female bodies and one skull.


Evidence from at least eight of the bodies showed that they had been strangled, while the corner was unable to identify the cause of the death for the remaining bodies. Additionally, at least six of the bodies also showed signs of binding around their wrists and/or ankles.


At Sowell’s trial, five woman testified against him, demonstrating a pattern of behavior. Four of the women testified that they were invited over to his home to drink and/or smoke crack cocaine. The four women were all beaten and raped while with him. The fifth woman had declined to accompany Sowell to his home. Sowell grabbed her off the street, and physically and sexually assaulted her, before she managed to fight her way free and notify the police. Sowell was arrested following the kidnapping incident in December 2008, however police mislabeled the report and Sowell was later released. Three of the women also testified that Sowell had attempted to kill them. One of the women testified that she had seen what looked like a headless body, propped in a seated position, and taped up.


Sowell was convicted on 81 of the 85 charges against him, including numerous counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. Sowell was given 11 death sentences.


Sowell still had rape charges in a separate case pending against him after his murder trial. However, due to his death sentences for killing 11 women, and his refusal to accept a plea deal in the rape case, prosecutors decided to not proceed with a trial, with the approval of the victims.


Anthony Sowell’s execution has been stayed, as he has not yet completed all his appeals and was issued a premature execution warrant.


Pray for peace and healing for the families of Crystal Dozier, Tishana Culver, Leshanda Long, Michelle Mason, Tonia Carmichael, Nancy Cobbs, Amelda Hunter, Telacia Fortson, Janice Webb, Kim Yvette Smith, and Diane Turner. Please pray for peace and healing for the all the women who were adversely affected by Anthony. Pray for strength for the family of Anthony. 



For more information regarding financial support, please click here.