Father of alleged serial killer victim waited for a call

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 05, 2011 3:58 PM
Father of alleged serial killer victim waited for a call

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The father of one of alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell's victims testified at Sowell's trial Tuesday that he knew something was wrong when he did not get a call for days, and then months, from his troubled daughter.

But Donald Smith, the father of Kim "Candy" Smith, said police ignored his concerns.

"I knew something was wrong and they just blew it off," Smith said.

Sowell, 51 is charged with the aggravated murder of 11 women whose bodies were found in and around his house. Several family members testified Tuesday about the alleged victims' drug problems, and when they went missing.

Sowell was arrested on October 29, 2009, two days after the initial discovery of the bodies. The decomposing bodies were found by police responding to a report by a woman who said she had been attacked in the home. If convicted, he could be given the death penalty.

Witnesses were asked by prosecutors if missing persons reports were filed with the police or if fliers were posted after their family member's disappearance. Prosecutors also asked when the victims were last seen and how often the victims would 'check-in' with family and friends.

Smith said that while his daughter, who had trouble with drugs from her last year in high school, would sometimes disappear for a week or two, she would always call. He worried when he had not heard from her for days after she left his house January 17, 2009, because the family had been planning a birthday party for her.

"Every hour seemed like a day, every day seemed like a month," said Smith.

Smith said he distributed fliers through some of her daughter's friends and offered a $500 reward for information, but heard nothing.

He is one of the family members who have sued the city of Cleveland over their handling of the Sowell case.

Denise Hunter, sister to Amelda Hunter, testified that her sister once took her to Sowell's house, greeted someone named 'Tony' and went upstairs to meet friends.

"I will speculate that she went there to purchase some crack," Hunter responded to a defense attorney question. Amelda Hunter's body was later among those found in Sowell's house.

James Martin, 53, testified he had a child with Diane Turner, one of the victims, in 1988 and told the court she was sober for a time but started using crack cocaine after a miscarriage.

When asked how many women he recognized after news reports came out about bodies found at Sowell's house Martin answered "9 out of 10" and added, "I know them from the neighborhood … walking the streets," he said.

Defense attorney John Parker pressed some of the witnesses to describe the area around Sowell's house and answer whether there was a lot of drug activity only to be told by Hunter that it was "just another neighborhood."

Sowell's defense team also questioned each witness about their personal drug problems and criminal convictions as well as their attempts to get the victims into drug treatment.

The witness list for the trial has more than 130 names on it and jurors have been told they will watch 12 hours of the police interview with Sowell.

Testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday afternoon.

(Writing and reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)