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Monday, July 29, 2013

Michael Madison: A Second Cleveland Serial Killer?

     East Cleveland, Ohio is an impoverished, predominantly black community of 17,000 within the Cleveland metropolitan area. During the period 1990 to 2011, the town lost 40 percent of its population. High crime, bad schools, and creeping neighborhood decay drove out residents who could afford to move away from the blight. These refugees from a dying community left behind abandoned houses, boarded-up buildings once homes to business, and overgrown, litter-filled lots. Homeless men, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes replaced the citizens who fled.

     On Friday, July 19, 2013, a cable television installer called the East Cleveland Police Department about a foul smell coming from a garage. Inside the structure, police officers discovered the body of a woman wrapped in plastic trash bags. A 35-year-old East Cleveland man named Michael Madison used the garage that contained the decomposing corpse.

     In 2001, Madison, a 1997 graduate of Euclid High School, was arrested on charges of attempted rape, gross sexual imposition, and kidnapping. The following year he pleaded guilty to the attempted rape charge. The judge sentenced Madison to four years in prison and ordered that he be registered as a sex offender. When he got out of prison, Madison went into the business of selling marijuana on the streets of East Cleveland.

     On July 19, 2013, not long after the police discovered the dead woman in Madison's garage, they arrested him at his mother's house in Cleveland. The following Monday, a Cuyahoga County prosecutor, after the bodies of two more women were found in East Cleveland, charged Madison with three counts of aggravated murder and three counts of kidnapping. The magistrate set Madison's bail at $6 million.

     The authorities identified the woman found in Madison's garage as 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley. The other two victims, Angela Deskins, 38 and 18-year-old Shirellda Terry, were found respectively, in an overgrown field and an abandoned house.

     On July 26, 2013, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner announced that two of the victims had been strangled by ligature. The third woman was so badly decomposed the forensic pathologist described her cause and manner of death as "homicidal violence by unspecific means."

     Madison, who has apparently confessed to murdering the three women, reportedly told his interrogators that he admired and had been inspired by serial killer Anthony Sowell. In 2009, detectives arrested Sowell on charges he had strangled to death eleven women at his home in Cleveland. Most of Sowell's victims, between the ages 24 and 52, had been strangled with a ligature. In 2011, a Cuyahoga County judge sentenced the registered sex offender to death.

     In the Michael Madison case, police officers continue to search for additional bodies.

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