EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — A 35-year-old registered sex offender was taken into custody on suspicion of killing three women whose bodies were found in East Cleveland, and police said Sunday that they were looking for more victims.
Searchers rummaging through vacant houses in the neighborhood where the three bodies were found in plastic bags should be prepared to find one or two more victims, the police chief said Sunday.
Chief Ralph Spotts told searchers combing through vacant houses in the neighborhood to look for other bags that might conceal bodies. He declined to elaborate.
Spotts identified the suspect as Michael Madison, who is expected to be formally charged Monday.
Mayor Gary Norton said authorities have ‘‘lots of reasons’’ to suspect there are more victims, but he refused to say why.
The suspect, who was arrested Friday after a police standoff, has indicated he may have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and sentenced to death, Norton said.
Police responding to a report of an odor coming from a house found the first body in a garage. Two other bodies were found Saturday — one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities said the victims were killed in the past six to 10days.
The bodies were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said. He said detectives were continuing to interview the suspect, who used his mother’s address in Cleveland in registering as a sex offender, the mayor said.
Cuyahoga County medical examiner Dr. Thomas P. Gilson said Sunday that the bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition and that it would take several days to identify them and how they died.
About three dozen volunteers, including community anticrime activists, fanned out Sunday across yards, in vacant houses, and along railroad tracks to help police, who used dogs, search for more victims.