The owners of a sausage shop once blamed for a rotten neighborhood stench said they are trying to regroup now that police have determined the odor was coming from the home of an alleged serial killer.
The remains of 11 women were found this month in the home of Anthony Sowell, who strangled the women and left their bodies in his house or buried in the backyard, authorities said.
Neighbors had blamed the odor on a broken sewer or the nearby Ray's Sausage Inc.
All the talk was hard on morale, said Leslie Cash, chief financial officer of the family owned business, which had spent $20,000 on new plumbing fixtures, sewer lines and grease traps, thinking that might get rid of the odor.
Now that Sowell is behind bars and the stench is gone, Cash said the family feels vindicated but also grieves for the victims.
Three weeks ago, when police and FBI agents searched Sowell's home, the Cash family feared the sausage business would suffer amid all the negative publicity.
"I thought it was going to be the end and I was going to have to find something else to do," said Raymond Cash Jr., who owns the company with his sister, Renee Cash. Their father started the business in 1952.
Family members said they are eager to put the Sowell episode behind them and move on. Sales, they said, haven't slipped.
Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management in Louisville, Ky., said companies disrupted by turmoil like the Sowell case often pay dearly.
Ray's Sausage should be fine because it makes a good product and has a great reputation, said Kevin Patton, a salesman for Hillandale Farms in Akron, which distributes Ray's souse to Wal-Mart and independent grocery stores.
Sowell, 50, a registered sex offender, has been charged with five counts of aggravated murder and, separately, with rape, kidnapping and attempted murder in an alleged Sept. 22 attack that prompted police to search his home Oct. 29.
The ten victims identified were black and many were homeless or living alone and had drug or alcohol addictions.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com