House of Horrors
The Shocking True Story of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland StranglerBlack Squirrel Books, Regional Interest, True Crime
The perverse world of a sexual sadist who terrorized women on Cleveland’s East Side
To his neighbors on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, Anthony Sowell was a quiet and helpful former Marine who played chess and hosted summer barbeques in his front yard. But there was a dark side to Sowell—and a horrific secret inside his house. In mid-2007, Crystal Dozier, 38, made plans to visit Sowell. She was never seen again. Over the next two years, ten more Cleveland women disappeared. Their families filed missing persons reports. Police say their search efforts were hampered by the women’s transient lifestyles. But the families say police considered their loved ones “disposable” and didn’t take their disappearances seriously.
On October 29, 2009, a SWAT team entered Sowell’s house to arrest him on a sexual assault charge. Nearly overcome by the stench of decaying flesh, police encountered a nightmarish scene: a skull was found in the basement and the remains of eleven women were scattered throughout the house and buried in the backyard. Sowell, a sexual sadist, had lured his victims to his personal House of Horrors with promises of drugs and alcohol. He then raped, tortured, and strangled them . . . and lived among their rotting corpses. Five other women were attacked by Sowell but lived to tell their stories.
After a dramatic trial in the summer of 2011, Sowell, 52, was convicted of 11 murders and sentenced to death. He is currently awaiting execution at the Chillicothe, Ohio, Correctional Institution. Cleveland journalist Robert Sberna brings readers into the mind of the killer through interviews with Sowell’s surviving victims and exclusive death row interviews with Sowell himself.
Robert Sberna is an investigative journalist who has written for national publications. He covered the courts and police beat for newspapers in the Midwest and has contributed articles to The Washington Examiner, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Neoconomist, and Ohio Magazine. Sberna lives in Strongsville, Ohio.