Skip to main content

Authorities work to identify East Cleveland victims as suspect is charged

By Anna Coren. Michael Pearson and Emily Smith, CNN
July 22, 2013 -- Updated 2352 GMT (0752 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Medical examiner asks for public help in two unidentified victims
  • Suspect in the deaths of three women is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping
  • Michael Madison, 35, has been arrested in the deaths
  • The suspect "idolized" serial killer Anthony Sowell, the mayor of East Cleveland says

East Cleveland, Ohio (CNN) -- A man who police say might have looked to the work of an infamous Cleveland serial killer for his inspiration was formally charged Monday in the deaths of three women whose bodies were found over the weekend, two of which are still unidentified.

Michael Madison, 35, was ordered held on $6 million bond after authorities filed three counts of aggravated murder and three counts of kidnapping against him.

The bodies were found within a few blocks from each other in East Cleveland over the weekend. The first victim was found Friday in the garage leased by Madison. She was naked with signs of trauma, police said.

Two other bodies were found Saturday -- one in an abandoned house, the other in a nearby field. One of those women was wearing a green hoodie, and the other was wearing a leopard-print leotard.

Ohio man charged with 3 counts of murder
Chief: Women claim they escaped him
3 bodies found wrapped in plastic
Women found wrapped in plastic

All three victims appear to be young black women. Their decomposed bodies were wrapped similarly in plastic garbage bags and taped up, authorities said.

Mayor Gary Norton believes the killings happened over a 10-day period and that the same assailant is responsible.

Norton identified one of the women, previously known as Victim No. 2, as Angela Deskins, 38, of Cleveland.

Help sought to ID two other victims

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson pleaded with help from the public to identify the other women, one of whom had several tattoos, including two featuring the name "Gene." Their identification could take days, he said.

East Cleveland police Chief Ralph Spotts declined to answer questions about the case.

"This is an ongoing investigation. We are nowhere near done," he said.

Madison might have been influenced by serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was sentenced to death in 2011 after being convicted of killing 11 women in Cuyahoga County, Norton said.

"Unfortunately, this is a sick individual who appears to have been influenced by another sick individual," Norton said over the weekend. "If he had been out for one more hour, there's no telling what would have happened."

Spotts and Norton thanked residents who assisted in the weekend search for potential victims. Some 100 people helped, they said.

Fast facts on serial killers

Who is the suspect?

The trail that led to Madison's arrest began with a foul odor coming from the garage he leased, East Cleveland police Detective Sgt. Scott Gardner said. That's where police found the first body.

Authorities got a search warrant for Madison's apartment Friday and found "additional evidence of decomposition" there, Gardner said.

Police later found Madison at his mother's house in nearby Cleveland. After a standoff, he was taken into custody.

When detectives returned to Madison's neighborhood to scour for evidence Saturday, they found the other two bodies in the field and the abandoned house.

According to police, Madison was convicted of attempted rape in 2001 and is a registered sex offender.

CNN could not immediately reach a representative for Madison.

Shaeaun Child, a neighbor who tipped police off about the foul smell in the garage, told CNN he knows Madison. He said the two once argued over a blocked driveway.

"From what I know, he was an OK person when I first met him. And then from there, he actually, he had a lot of conflicts with different girls that he knew," Child said. "When he real upset with someone, he get real loud. You could hear him like two blocks away."

CNN's John Branch, Chris Welch, Morgan Winsor and Alina Cho contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1240 GMT (2040 HKT)
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1940 GMT (0340 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
The sights couldn't be sadder: Animals killed or suffering through war in Gaza.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
They are the faces of a community on the run. Photographer Warzer Jaff documents the plight of the Yazidis.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A cameraman films a massive New York City subway rat charging at him and attacking him. WPIX reports.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT