CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio jurors Thursday got a glimpse into the mind of a man accused of killing 11 women and storing their decomposing bodies for two years, watching a video of his police interrogation.
Anthony Sowell, 51, has been little heard from during three weeks of gruesome testimony including the jury’s tour of the house horrors in Cleveland, Ohio, where he allegedly raped, killed and buried his victims.
But Thursday prosecutors played the first part of a nearly nine-hour interview Sowell had with the sex crimes unit and homicide detectives from the Cleveland police department after his arrest in October 2009.
“I don’t know what happened,” Sowell says in the tape. “It was like a breakdown or something.”
In the first moments of the grainy police video, Sowell taps his foot as he smokes a cigarette with a cup of coffee in his hand. Detectives begin to question him about a woman who accused him of raping her in 2009.
He told police he had consensual, but kinky sex with the woman on two occasions. But once detectives began to question Sowell about the decomposed bodies found inside the house, he breaks down in the video, weeping.
“Everybody is going to make me out to be evil,” Sowell told detectives. “It just is what it is.”
He also told police he sometimes heard “bad” voices in his head.
As detectives ask him to identify the corpses inside the home, starting with a body found in the basement, Sowell says he cannot remember and needs more time to think. He had allegedly blamed the stench of decomposition on a nearby sausage factory.
Jurors have viewed hundreds of disturbing photos that showed the decomposed bodies. Throughout the case Sowell has remained silent and calm as evidence.
Even though three women told police on separate occasions that Sowell, a registered sex offender, had raped them, it was not until September 2009 that officers went inside his house when he failed to answer their knock and followed the stench to two rotting corpses on a bed on the third floor.
A weeks-long search of the house and yard found eight more bodies and a human skull in a bucket.
Sowell was arrested as he walked down the street two days after the first bodies were found.
He faces the death penalty if convicted of nearly 100 charges, including kidnapping, rape, molesting a human corpse, robbery and attempted murder.
Sowell is charged in the murders of Telacia Fortson, Diane Turner, Tonia Carmichael, Leshanda Long, Amelda Hunter, Crystal Dozier, Kim Smith, Janice Webb, Nancy Cobbs, Tishana Culver and Michelle Mason.
Their bodies, some of which were bound, were found in various places inside and around the home: a bedroom, inside of a wall, the basement and several in the back yard.