Anthony Sowell Update: Autopsies Show Women Found in Ohio Home Were Strangled

Anthony Sowell (CBS/AP)
Anthony Sowell (CBS/AP)
CLEVELAND (CBS/AP) A green belt with a metal buckle. The strap of a shoulder bag. An electrical charger for a cell phone or camera. A knotted piece of cloth.

PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

These are what silenced most of the 11 women unearthed last fall at the home of Anthony Sowell, a registered sex offender who has pleaded not guilty to an 85-count indictment in their deaths. Many still had the ligatures wrapped around their necks.

Autopsy reports obtained Thursday by The Associated Press reveal that eight of the women were strangled, most with household objects. Nine had traces of cocaine or depressants in their systems.

The reports offer the first comprehensive look at the horrors the women may have endured.

One woman's body, found in the basement under a mound of dirt, was nude and gagged at the mouth with her shirt tied behind her head. Most were bound at the wrists or ankles with shoelaces, cable wire and rope. Many were barely clothed. Four were nude from the waist down.

They were disposed of in garbage bags and plastic sheets, then dumped in various parts of the house and yard. Five were buried in the backyard. Four ended up on the third floor, one of them draped in a cloth comforter and plastic, still wearing a medallion in the shape of a cross around her neck.

Another was buried in the backyard in clear plastic, alongside three small paper bags and a manila envelope containing mud and items identified as possible human bones.

Two of the bodies were so badly decomposed that the county coroner could not determine exactly how they died, listing the cause of death as homicidal violence.

The autopsy on the 11th victim hasn't been completed because only her skull remained. Some of the victims may have been strangled by hand, said the Cuyahoga County coroner.

A CBS News investigation uncovered exclusive details revealing critical mistakes by police and prosecutors working the case - how they could have stopped a serial killer if they hadn't ignored charges of rape.


PICTURES: Anthony Sowell Victims
PICTURES: Anthony Sowell's Home of Horror

November 16, 2009 - Pictures: Who Were the Women Found at Anthony Sowell's House?
November 12, 2009 - Mayor's Niece Lived With Alleged "Cleveland Strangler" Anthony Sowell and Rotting Bodies
November 9, 2009 - Anthony Sowell: Case Against Accused Cleveland Serial Killer Could Expand Overseas with FBI Interest
November 5, 2009 - Anthony Sowell Offered Free Barbecue To Neighbors, As Corpses Rotted in His Home
November 5, 2009 - Family of Anthony Sowell Victim Tonia Carmichael: Police Said "Go Home"
November 4, 2009 - Harry Smith on Anthony Sowell and His Cleveland House of Horrors
November 4, 2009 - Skull in Bucket Found in Anthony Sowell's Home, Say Cleveland Cops
November 3, 2009 - Anthony Sowell Home "Smelled Like a Dead Body" for Years; How Did Cops Miss Victims?
November 2, 2009 - Anthony Sowell House of Horrors: Who's Buried There?
November 2, 2009 - Anthony Sowell Cruised Sex Fetish Site While Dead Bodies Rotted in His Cleveland Home
November 2, 2009 - Six Died Violently at Anthony Sowell's Cleveland Home, Say Police