First Victim in Cleveland House of Horrors Identified

Skull belongs to an 11th body that has yet to be found.

ByABC News
November 3, 2009, 4:14 PM

Nov. 4, 2009 — -- Investigators prepared to tear into the walls of Cleveland's house of horrors in search of more victims today as investigators identified the first of 10 bodies found in Anthony's Sowell's home.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office said the first body to be identified is that of Tonia Carmichael. Carmichael, who was identified through DNA evidence, was reported missing in November 2008 when she was 52 years old.

Carmichael's daughter Markiesha Carmichael-Jacobs says her mother struggled with drug addiction and frequented Sowell's neighborhood.

"There is still a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed," Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement. "Until the family of the victims get the closure they seek and ultimately the justice they deserve, this case will continue to be our focus."

Police are continuing to search for more victims. A head found in a bucket in Sowell's home was severed from an eleventh body they have yet to find, the coroner's office said.

Detectives are expected to gather DNA evidence from Sowell later today to enter into a national database that could potentially match him to other crimes.

A Cleveland, Ohio, judge ordered Sowell to be held without bond on five counts of aggravated murder. Earlier this week, detectives uncovered 10 decomposed body and one skull in the three-story house of horrors.

Sowell, 50, stared straight ahead as a prosecutor deemed him an "incredibly dangerous threat to the public."

If convicted, Sowell, who appeared in court with his wrists and ankles shackled and clad in the blue paper jumpsuit worn by suicide-risk inmates, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Sowell spoke only when a judge asked him whether it was true he could not afford an attorney, responding, "That's correct."

Kathleen DeMetz, the public defender representing Sowell, told today that her client had medical problems, including heart problems that require medication. DeMetz also said that Sowell had been receiving unemployment compensation since he'd been laid off from a factory job two years ago.

DeMetz met with Sowell earlier this morning in his jail cell but declined to comment on his demeanor. "He was in a cell alone with no one in the cell across from him, so nobody could see him," she said.

Sowell, who will be assigned new lawyers after he is indicted, typically within 30 days, is a Cleveland native who has family in the area, DeMetz said.

He has been in jail since Saturday, when police apprehended him after finding six decomposed female bodies in his three-story home.

Cleveland police Tuesday found another four bodies in the backyard and a skull in a bucket in his basement.

Cleveland Police Department Lt. Thomas Stacho confirmed that the skull was found "wrapped in paper or plastic" in a bucket in Sowell's basement.

The cause of death in five of the bodies found earlier this week was believed to be strangulation, Stacho said. The cause of death for the sixth is still unknown.

Police have started searching abandoned and vacant homes in a 6-mile radius of Sowell's home, WEWS-TV reported.

Cadaver dogs will continue to search Powell's home.

Sowell was released in 2005 after serving 15 years in prison for choking and raping a 21-year-old woman in 1989.