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Ohio bodies lead investigators to trace suspect's trail overseas

A note and stuffed toy are left Monday at the home of Anthony Sowell in Cleveland, where the remains of 11 people were found.

Associated Press

A note and stuffed toy are left Monday at the home of Anthony Sowell in Cleveland, where the remains of 11 people were found.

CLEVELAND — Authorities are investigating whether a suspected serial killer whose home and yard harbored the remains of at least 11 people is connected to any killings in places he lived while in the military, including Japan, California and the Carolinas.

The FBI will investigate any leads in the case against Anthony Sowell, 50, who served in the Marines from 1978-85, said Scott Wilson, an FBI spokesman.

FBI behavioral specialists visited the Sowell property during the weekend and will try to develop a profile of the killings that could help determine whether investigations need to be opened or reopened elsewhere, Wilson said.

Sowell was stationed at various times at Parris Island, S.C.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Okinawa, Japan; and Camp Pendleton, Calif.

East Cleveland is also reviewing three unsolved slayings in 1988 and 1989, after Sowell returned from the service and before he went to prison for attempted rape, said Sgt. Ken Bolton, a detective for the police department in the Cleveland suburb.

Sowell has been charged in Cleveland with five counts of aggravated murder in connection with bodies found at the home.

He was indicted Monday on one count of attempted murder, two counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of felonious assault in an attack Sept. 22 that led to the search of his home. Sowell has asked for a court-appointed attorney, but court records don't reflect that one has been chosen.

The FBI will review its national database of unsolved crimes for any clues to possible connections to Sowell, particularly at his military service locations, Wilson said. The first step is to get a detailed time line of his service.

Police in Coronado, Calif., near Camp Pendleton, said a woman told them that she saw Sowell's mug shot on TV and was sure he had raped her in 1979. Officers talked with the woman but were unable to confirm her story because rape investigation records from 30 years ago have been thrown out, said Jesus Ochoa, Coronado police commander.

"She seemed credible," he said.

Near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown and his deputies are sifting through paper records to check for any unsolved killings or disappearances when Sowell was at the Marine base from May 20, 1978, to July 12, 1978.

Brown said he has run Sowell's name through computerized court files and hasn't found that Sowell got so much as a traffic ticket while in the area. But the paper search is slow going. "The computer technology then is not what it is now," he said.

Ohio bodies lead investigators to trace suspect's trail overseas 11/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 9, 2009 10:31pm]

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