How Could a Serial Killer Go Undetected?

Cops say Anthony Sowell is a sociopathic sexual predator. He allegedly preyed upon a vulnerable population: African-American women who lived on society’s fringe. Some were active or recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. Some had gone to jail and had criminal records. The family members of those that went missing believe that when their loved ones disappeared, the police did not take their concerns seriously. The fiance of Janice Webb, one of Sowell’s alleged victims, reports that the Lakewood Police would not even take a missing persons report because of her drug history.

Anthony Sowell must have believed he was invincible, which may have allowed him to allegedly commit his heinous crimes literally right under the nose of the community in which he lived.

If Anthony Sowell is the killer, what in our society could allow these horrible events to continue for so long? The women who put themselves in danger? The families — some of whom did not report people missing? The Cleveland police, who many say did not take the concerns of this community seriously — and in some cases were literally not willing to takemissing persons reports? And what about the lack of communication and cooperation between the Cleveland police and the sheriff’s department responsible for monitoring this sexual predator? If those in charge of monitoring Anthony Sowell were aware of accusations of rape against him, why did they not go into his home? Increase monitoring? Anything? I am outraged that these two agencies seemed to have no contact with each other. If they did, why were alarm bells not ringing among law enforcement?

The community that Anthony Sowell allegedly preyed upon was a perfect playground for a sexual predator. This community (even now) is distrustful of the police — many of them don’t want to give DNA to the coroners to help identify victims because they are afraid of authorities. This community was already disenfranchised by law enforcement and city officials due to these agencies’ disinterest in missing persons reports and concerns of foul odors engulfing Imperial Avenue.

We need to demand that agencies responsible for protecting us are held to task, and that they come up with better ways to communicate with each other. They have to effectively monitor the sexual predators that are living among us.

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Copyright 2013, Dr. Michelle Golland. All Rights Reserved.