Charges expected in grisly discovery of three bodies in Ohio
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio – A suspicious odor unearthed one body in a trash bag in a rundown neighborhood here, and then two more were found over the weekend, and police expected Monday to charge a man who indicated he might have been influenced by a serial killer whose home just miles away was found littered with bodies a few years ago.
Police and volunteers scoured about 40 empty homes Sunday until their search was suspended, with no immediate plans to resume, said East Cleveland Police Chief Ralph Spotts.
He identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Madison and said Madison was to be charged Monday but did not elaborate.
An odor led to the discovery Friday of one body in a garage. Two others were found Saturday -- one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies of the three women were all wrapped in plastic bags in fetal positions. "It didn't look like a person could actually fit in the bag," Spotts told residents and activists who gathered Sunday to search.
The victims were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities believed they were killed in the past six to 10 days.
They're part of the latest in a series of high-profile cases involving the disappearance of women from the Cleveland area.
In 2009, the mostly nude bodies of 11 women were found in garbage bags and plastic sheets throughout the Cleveland home of Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of murdering the women and sentenced to death. In May, three women who vanished separately about a decade ago were found captive in a rundown house. The owner of the house, a former school bus driver, has pleaded not guilty to kidnap, rape and other crimes.
Madison threatened about a month ago to attack women in the same fashion as Sowell, said Eric Wilson, a neighbor who saw Madison frequently. Mayor Gary Norton said Madison gave similar indications to authorities.
"He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence," Norton told The Associated Press.
Madison was arrested Friday after a police standoff. A woman at a small white house at an address for Madison said the family was shocked by the allegations. She identified herself as a family member and answered a few questions through the blinds of a window Sunday but refused to come out or give her name. It wasn't clear whether Madison has an attorney.
Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to court records. He had previous convictions in 2000 and 2001 for drug-related charges.
Wilson and others said Madison was a neighborhood fixture, constantly walking up and down streets and seen everywhere. Teenager Daniqwa Martin said Madison had offered her a ride in the past but she always declined.
One neighbor, Nathenia Crosby, said she was familiar with Madison and had seen him walking through the neighborhood. She said she had told him to stop chatting with her daughter and warned him after seeing him talk to her cousin.
"It's very scary, especially when he used to be talking to my daughter," said Crosby, 48. "But I told him he was too old to be talking to my daughter because she was only 19. When I found out how old he was, I said, `You need to move on, she's too young.'"
Detectives continued to interview Madison, Norton said. He said authorities have "lots of reasons" to suspect there are more victims, but he refused to say why.
Spotts indicated that Madison's comments haven't provided clarity on whether more bodies might be found.
"He really hasn't stated that there's any more, but he hasn't said anything that would make us think that there's not," Spotts said.
All three bodies were found in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said. The bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition and it would take several days to identify them and how they died, Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said Sunday.
Martin, 16, said she smelled the odor Tuesday but ignored it, thinking it was a dead animal.
About three dozen volunteers, including community anti-crime activists, fanned out Sunday morning across yards, through vacant houses and along a railroad to help police search. The chief advised them to watch for missing floor boards as they looked inside houses. One young searcher crawled under a board screwed across a door to go inside a house.
Barbara Stirtmire, part of a local motorcycle club whose members were pitching in to search Sunday, said she came to help because she knows so many people in the area and herself has a teenage daughter.
"It doesn't make the city look good, I know that," said Stirtmire, 31, who works at a nearby auto parts store. "But as far as everybody coming together, it's beautiful."
The neighborhood in East Cleveland, which has some 17,000 residents, has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough, the mayor said.
"Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it," he said.
Facebook users rally around Mass. cop who leaked Tsarnaev photos
by Matt Pearce
The Massachusetts State Police photographer who leaked photos of a bloody, defeated Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during his capture is getting public support as he faces potential punishment from his bosses.
A "Save Sgt. Sean Murphy" group on Facebook had more than 32,700 "likes" on Sunday afternoon -- three days after Murphy leaked the stark photos to Boston Magazine in response to Rolling Stone's latest cover, which features the suspected Boston Marathon bomber.
Murphy, a tactical photographer, was suspended after the leak and faces a disciplinary hearing as soon as this week.
"Please help me save Sgt. Sean Murphy from losing his job with the Massachusetts State Police," states the anonymous page's "About" section. "This petition is to save Trooper Sean Murphy his job. He did what I think most of us would have liked to do or would have done had we had the same resources."
The Rolling Stone controversy has continued to provoke strong feelings in Boston and beyond, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) weighing in against the cover Sunday. Critics accused the magazine of giving Tsarnaev, 19, rock-star treatment and romanticizing his alleged involvement in the bombings while not paying homage to the blasts' victims.
"It's stupid," McCain said in a CNN appearance. "I thought it was glorifying an individual that represents a great threat to innocent lives and was responsible for the taking of innocent lives."
Others responded that the New York Times ran the same Tsarnaev photo on its front page without receiving the same criticism, and that portraying Tsarnaev as a teen heartthrob served to confound stereotypes of what Islamic extremism looks like. (The actual story on Tsarnaev by Janet Reitman has been praised as solid examination of Tsarnaev's life as a wayward American college student with only quiet hints of holding radical views.)
The glorification debate was further complicated Thursday when Boston Magazine published Murphy's photos, along with a comment from Murphy.
"An image like this on the cover of Rolling Stone, we see it instantly as being wrong," wrote Murphy, who said he knew firsthand that victims' families had been disturbed by the magazine's cover. "What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”
But the release of the official photos was unauthorized, and some experts have expressed concern that their release could interfere with the pending federal criminal case against Tsarnaev.
Critics also fired back that photos of Tsarnaev incurring a massive police response could still be interpreted as glorification.
"We certainly disagree with that perspective, but people will see what they want to see in these photos," the magazine's Jason Schwartz wrote in a follow-up to the photos' publication. "Bottom line: This is news, this is how it happened."
On the Facebook group, users rallied behind Murphy.
"As a military veteran I understand Sgt. Murphy broke the rules, however; I'm glad he did it!" one user wrote. "It is my opinion that he hit the nail on the head with his views on the Rolling Stone cover of that coward."
"The people who were victimized by this evil man and his brother are re-victimized by the poor choices made by Rolling Stones editorial staff," another said. "Victims and their families are further traumatized in 'safe' places like the grocery store when they see this photo. Thank God for Sgt. Murphy's actions, helping to prevent idolizing this monster."
"While I understand Sgt. Murphy was not authorized to release the pictures, the cover of Rolling Stone was such a travesty any normal person could understand how he could do it," a third user wrote. "I think while his employers need to take disciplinary action, firing is too strong. I hope they will reconsider. God bless you, Sgt. Thank you for standing up to speak for all of us."
Murphy has not spoken with the media since his suspension, but the debate rages on.
"No one, not even a publicly despised nineteen-year-old, has just one true face," the New Yorker's Ian Crouch wrote in response to Murphy. "The image of Tsarnaev on Rolling Stone is as real as the picture of him in a sniper's sights — it is merely that we prefer the one in which he was brought to justice to the one in which he was free."
A call for community policing in Marin City
by Felecia Gaston
ON JULY 10, at a regular Marin City Community Services District meeting, over 75 people turned out, following a recent highly charged incident on July 7, when Marin City was literally shut down for over two hours after a "Mutual Aid Call — Officer-involved Shooting."
Over 30 law enforcement agencies surrounded the community, after an incident that began as a routine traffic stop. The images of law enforcement with large guns were just astounding and shocking, and the images will resonate forever.
As the local officials carried on their regular meeting, the attendees were anxiously awaiting the regular bi-monthly Sheriff's Report. The first question asked was, "How long will Marin City be used as a training ground and when is our due date for this to be over?" The crowd erupted with loud applause, which prompted the lieutenant and his deputies to abruptly walk out of the community meeting.
This gesture underscores the deepening rift between African American Marin City residents and the Marin County Sheriff's Department.
If you visit the Marin County Sheriff's Department Mission Statement, it states
• "We are dedicated to providing the highest quality of service to protect the citizens of Marin."
• "We recognize that honesty, integrity, and truthfulness are the foundations of our profession."
• "We are dedicated to building a department based on a foundation of fairness, respect, and equal opportunity ..."
• "... upholding our credibility within the law enforcement profession and communities we serve."
• "We will ... ensure ... fair and equitable treatment of all
• "We are dedicated to ... protecting the rights of all individuals."
The question begs to be asked, "Do black Marin City residents believe in the Marin County Sheriff's Department slogan 'In partnership with our communities?'"
All one has to do is to Google the news headlines and find "Police abuse alleged by black resident, arrested by Marin Sheriff for missing a court date," "Marin County Human Rights Commission — a forum to discuss police conduct," and many others.
For decades, the tension between the African American males and the sheriff's department continued to rise.
In 2009, the Phoenix Project of Marin was formed to address these issues. A group of local partners, Marin Housing Authority, Marin County Probation, Public Defender, District Attorney and the Sheriff's Department came together to deal with positive solutions for these targeted males and to strengthen and improve relationships.
This effort is funded by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Marin Community Foundation and Supervisor Kate Sears.
Four years ago, a sheriff's deputy was shot at while sitting in his patrol car. On July 7 there was an officer-involved shooting of a Marin City man. The most pressing issue is the deep divide between the black males and the sheriff's department.
In this past year, more community members are becoming disenchanted with local law enforcement — women, senior citizens and, most striking, little children who make statements that they are scared of the police.
There has been much talk of "Community Policing." It starts; then nothing happens.
Marin County is known for the best of everything.
The old ways of policing need to be abandoned.
There are many modern and proven practices nationwide to improve the delivery of public safety service, to increase community confidence and to strengthen agency and community accountability.
These should be implemented voluntarily in the spirit of cooperation for the sake of the next generation.