It’s a gloomy, rainy morning in our dimly lit garret at FirstNerve Manor and according to the date on the flickering screen of our decrepit laptop it is once again time to release our highly anticipated monthly compendium of macabre olfactory moments known as I Smell Dead People. Over the years this chronicle of the nostril-searing grotesque has been filled with what, in a purely statistical sense, we might call normal cases: the neglected elderly, the invisible homeless, the poor schmo in the tinted-window pickup who had a fatal stroke in the parking lot of the Qwik-E-Mart.
It is not surprising that in such a long-running series of cases we occasionally find a dramatic outlier, such as a serial killer unmasked by the decaying smell of his victims.
What is surprising is to find a second serial killer revealed in the same way in the same city. Follow along as the all-smelling nostril of ISDP returns to Cleveland, Ohio.
It began routinely enough on July 19:
A body was found in a car port in East Cleveland Friday morning.Police soon had a suspect.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner was called to the area of Hayden and Shaw avenues. East Cleveland police said the body was brought to their attention after residents in the area reported a strong, foul odor.
A convicted sex offender has been arrested after officers found a woman’s decomposing body in his garage, police said.Soon enough, other bodies were found.
Michael Madison, 35, of East Cleveland, was arrested following a standoff Friday afternoon at his mother’s home on East 197th Street and Chickasaw Avenue in Cleveland, police said.
Several people said they called police Friday morning before 11 a.m. complaining about a foul odor coming from a garage on Shaw Avenue just south of Hayden Avenue.
“I went to get my tools in the garage and the smell next to mine was so bad. I called police and they went in and found a plastic bag,”said a man who did not want to be identified.
“I said, that’s something; something is dead. I was hoping it was an animal. So, I told him, I’m going to call the police – at least they can come over here and see,”Mickey Stovall-Brown said.
Neighbors said they complained about the smell for about a week.
The odor led to the discovery Friday of one body in a garage. Two others were found Saturday—one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies of the three women, all wrapped in plastic bags, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities believed the victims were killed in the last six to 10 days.There are about 17,000 residents in East Cleveland, a neighborhood filled with abandoned houses. Neighbors pitched in to help police search about 40 of these after the additional bodies were discovered, but no more were found. Madison has been charged with aggravated murder.
Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to Cuyahoga County court records. He had previous convictions in 2000 and 2001 for drug-related charges.More olfactory details emerge:
Workers at East Cleveland Cable TV said they knew something was wrong Friday morning. They saw flies and smelled a foul odor coming from a garage in East Cleveland. “It’s a smell you can't explain, took a while to get out of my nose,” Shaeaun Childs said. Childs and his coworker, Mikki Taylor, called police.Then there is this:
They told police the garage was used by a tenant in an apartment above East Cleveland Cable TV. Taylor said police asked her to call the tenant, Michael Madison, and ask him to open the garage. “I called him and said 'Michael, we need to get into the garage.’He paused and said 'I'm not there,’”Taylor said. When police got inside, they found the body of a woman wrapped in plastic.
“I thought it was a dead rat, I never thought they would find a body,”Taylor said.According to some news reports, Madison may have taken Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell as a role model.
Meanwhile, over in Shelby, Ohio:
A foul odor led to the discovery of a baby’s body in the trunk of a car at an auto repair shop Tuesday in Shelby, Ohio, police said.The stillborn baby was apparently stashed in the trunk by its mother, a 17-year-old girl, who nobody knew was pregnant.
Police said a mechanic found the infant’s body about 1:30 p.m. local time, WMFD-TV, Mansfield, reported. Thinking the smell was from a dead animal, the employee opened the trunk and found the baby’s remains in a box in the trunk, and called authorities, the TV station said. “The car had been at the shop for two days,” Shelby Police Chief Charlie Roub said.
Finally, we head down to Florida, a perennial leader in ISDP events, where Derek Gilliam reports from Jacksonville:
A decomposing body was discovered in a home Wednesday afternoon off North McDuff Avenue after complaints of a foul odor were reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.Investigators found that the body was that of a 40-year-old man who they believe had been lured into the house, robbed, and shot in the back of the head. A 27-year-old man has been charged with his murder.