Dozens of African-American pastors in Cleveland gathered Sunday to pray for the families of murdered women who were lured to the home of a convicted sex fiend and to demand answers as to how such grisly crimes could have gone unnoticed by authorities for so long.
Some clergymen and other community leaders have postulated that the fact that the 11 victims were Black might have been the reason the stench of decomposing bodies and repeated police calls did not elicit more serious suspicions on behalf of police. City Councilman Zach Reed acknowledged this weekend that his office did not handle reports about the foul odors as well as it should have. Many in the community attributed the smells to a neighborhood sausage plant.
Last week, authorities went to arrest Anthony Sowell, a 50-year-old convicted rapist, on a new sex offense and discovered six bodies buried throughout the home, five outside. All that remained of one victim was a head crammed in a bucket. In addition to five counts of rape, the suspect now faces charges of kidnapping, aggravated murder and felonious assault. He is being held without bond.
The pastors, are urging members of the rundown Cleveland community to provide DNA samples to authorities in an effort to determine whether their loved ones are among the 22 people still missing. So far, The Associated Press reported Sunday, only six families have done so.
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