Friday, November 13, 2009

ISDP: House of a Dozen Corpses

This is the third ISDP to fall on Friday the 13th—the day that inspired us to premiere this monthly assemblage of the olfactory macabre. If perfumes are the Walt Disney version of smell then the rank stench of decomposition is the Rob Zombie version. The faint of heart should turn away immediately—don’t take that unpaved road toward the abandoned farm house, don’t go into that dark cellar without a flashlight. The rest of you—well, just follow Captain Spalding into the Museum of Monsters & Madmen. And be sure to try the fried chicken!

The case of the Cleveland serial killer has creeping up everyone’s nostrils the past couple of weeks. Anthony Sowell, now 50, plead guilty to attempted rape in 1989 and spent 15 years in prison. On his release in 2005 he moved into a house owned by his stepmother. In 2007 she tried to get him evicted for failure to pay rent but was later hospitalized, leaving him alone in the house. In June of that year a resident across the street called City Hall to complain about “a foul odor” in the neighborhood.

This would seem to be the first indication that Sowell was up to no good—inviting women into his house where they would be raped and strangled and their bodies stashed. Police have now discovered and identified the remains of eleven women.

Local politicians are exercising 20-20 hindsight and playing to the grandstands:
Local councilman Zack Reed said he would push for an independent investigation into why complaints about the smell did not lead to an earlier discovery.

‘‘Residents are mad and they have every right to be mad,’’ he said.

Mr Reed said his office called the public health department about 2½ years ago after a neighbor reported the smell.

‘‘I know darned well that our health department should have been able to tell the difference between the smell of a dead body and the smell of dead meat,’’ he said.
Really? Councilman Reed thinks it ought to have been a clear call but the fact is that people close to the scene misinterpreted the smell for years.
CLEVELAND — For the past few years, neighbors assumed the foul smell enveloping their street corner had been coming from a brick building where workers churned out sausage and head cheese.

It got so bad that the owners of Ray’s Sausage replaced their sewer line and grease traps. Now they know the odor was coming from a three-story house next door where the decomposing bodies of six women were found.

“We hope they don’t find anymore,” said Renee Cash, whose family has operated the sausage company for 57 years.

About four years ago, she and other workers started noticing a smell that was so bad on some days that it forced them to leave their office.

“In the summertime, it was gross,” Cash said. “You could always smell it. It smelled like something rotten.”
Ray’s Sausage is next door to Sowell’s house. Ms. Cash has learned the hard way that the public reaction to a mega-stink is to point the finger at the nearest corporation. Never mind that a sausage factory should never smell like rotting meat; Ms. Cash ended up wasting her company’s money in a fruitless attempt to prove she was a solid citizen.

Another person suffering from olfactory misdirection was Lori Frazier, who lived in the house with Sowell from 2005 to 2007. 
Asked whether she had noticed a foul odor, Frazier told WOIO, “Yeah, I smelled stuff, but he always told me that -- at first he said it was his stepmother downstairs. And then I guess after she left, he told me that it was Ray’s Sausage.”
Lori Frazier is the nice of Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson. Hey, Councilman Reed, you don’t suppose that’s a reason why local authorities were less than eager to investigate? Just saying.

Once the other shoe drops, everyone has 20/20 hindsight.
Storeowner Says Sowell Put Foul-Smelling Bags In Dumpster

CLEVELAND -- The former owner of a convenience store across the street from Anthony Sowell’s house told NewsChannel5 he believes Sowell may have dumped some of his victims in a garbage bin outside the store.

Sowell was seen at the Imperial Grocery almost every day, but former owner Assad Tayeh says it’s what he thinks Sowell put in the Dumpster that is raising new questions.

“A bag, a big bag stuffed and wrapped with duct tape and there was a very bad smell coming out of it,” said Tayeh.

“God knows how many bodies he put in those Dumpsters.”

Indeed. And right under your nose.

*  *  *

According to one report, police in Sacramento, California found themselves investigating an apparent double homicide “after neighbors reported a foul odor.” One body was found stuffed in a garbage can inside a house; the other was in a open lot nearby. Residents and relatives believe the victims to be a 23-year old woman and her 24-year old boyfriend. The woman had been reported missing ten days earlier. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office says the victims were shot to death. Douglas Keith Elmore, 24, was arrested two days later and charged with two counts of murder. 

However, a story filed by Hudson Sangree of the Sacramento Bee paints a more complex picture of the crime scene smellscape, including bureaucratic run-arounds, a cursory initial police investigation that found nothing, and finally a neighbor taking matters into his own hands and moving the garbage, only to find the first body.

In a similar case in Sanford, Florida, concerned citizens on the track of a bad smell found a dead body in nearby woods on Halloween morning.

Officials said the body was found Saturday morning at 11 a.m. but residents in the area said they had noticed a foul smell in the area for several days.

“It smelled like a dead animal,” said one local.

Residents said they conducted their own investigation into the source of the smell and that’s when they stumbled on the body in a thick brush.
First Nerve salutes the self-reliant citizens of Sanford.

On November 5 in Redwood City, California, maintenance workers responding to complaints from neighbors of “a foul smell” discovered the body of a 21-year man decomposing in a covered public swimming pool in Hoover Park. 
A notice on the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Web site said the pool was not open for the 2009 season. Agency officials declined to say why the pool had been closed.
Things are really bad in the Golden State.

According to Redwood City police, the deceased “suffered from mental health issues” but “it is impossible to determine whether the death was a suicide.” Family accounts paint an upbeat picture of the deceased.

On Election Day in Whitman, Massachusetts:
Whitman Police and Fire discovered the corpse of a male Tuesday in a trailer on Cherry Street.

A neighbor called to report a foul odor coming from the camper located at 96 Cherry St. . . . 

The owner of the property told investigators a 66-year-old male had been living in the trailer for approximately a year.
A contractor hired to winterize a home in Snohomish County, Washington, found the place “had been barricaded from inside and sheets covered all the windows.” He also noticed “a foul smell” and called police. They found a dead body in the bathroom next to a rifle. They believe the deceased is the home’s 50-year owner.

Finally, we have this month’s nominee for the Norman Bates Award via this headline from the Tyler Morning Telegraph:
Woman Found Living With Week-Old Corpse
The incident occurred October 9 in the Texas town of Big Sandy
Big Sandy police Lt. Van Burr said a man flagged down officer Wes Walters about 11:30 a.m. Friday and told him he smelled a foul odor coming from his sister’s Hillcrest Manor apartment.

The brother visited the apartment earlier, but his sister did not let him in, he said.

Once police went into the house, they found William Drake, 50, dead on a couch.

Drake appears to have died of natural causes. The 45-year-old woman has been committed for mental evaluation.

UPDATE December 13, 2009

Here’s one we missed. On Halloween in Phoenix, Arizona, a resident tossing some trash into a dumpster behind a vacant business noticed “a bad odor.” Police found the dismembered body of a 42-year-old local man scattered among several containers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A hotel with tomb service: