Anthony Sowell, Accused of Attacking 14 Women, Pleads Insanity

Anthony Sowell pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder charges.

ByABC News
December 1, 2009, 4:10 PM

Dec. 3, 2009— -- The accused Cleveland serial killer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to an 85-count indictment that charges him with luring at least 11 women to his home and strangling them.

Anthony Sowell appeared at today's arraignment via sateillite from the prison where he is being held without bond. Clad in an orange jumpsuit and with his hands in cuffs, Sowell said nothing more than "Yes, your honor," when asked if he was pleading not guilty.

Earlier this week, an indictment by Cleveland authorities charges Sowell with being a "monster" who lured 14 homeless or addicted women into his house of horrors where he sexually attacked them and strangled 11 of them.

While the prosecutor's office had requested Sowell's bond be set at $14 million -- $1 million for each alleged victim -- the judge ruled to hold the accused killer without bond.

The indictment charges Sowell, a registered sex offender, with 11 murders, plus dozens of other counts, including kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, attempted murder, assault and rape. The bodies of his alleged victims were found buried in and around his three-story home. Included in the grisly discoveries was a head in a bucket in Sowell's basement.

County Prosecutor Bill Mason called Sowell "a monster" while announcing the indictment.

If convicted, Sowell could face the death penalty.

The prosecutor said Sowell preyed on women who were homeless, living alone and had drug or alcohol addictions.

After luring them inside his home, "tormented them, threatened them and assaulted them. He murdered 11 of them," Mason said. His victims were strangled, either by Sowell's hands or with a rope or cord, the indictment said. One of the 11 murder victims has yet to be identified.

Sowell, 50, had previously been charged with five of the murders. He pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges.

The new indictment includes assaults on three women who survived Sowell's alleged attacks within the past year. They ranged in age from 36 to 51.

Sowell, who served 15 years in prison for a 1989 attempted rape, was arrested while walking in the neighborhood on Oct. 31, two days after police began searching his home.