Jurors see accused Ohio serial killer say he hears voices

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 14, 2011 8:03 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Jurors got their first look on Thursday at an eight-hour videotaped interrogation of accused Ohio serial killer Anthony Sowell, in which he tells police he hears voices and suffers from blackouts.

On the tape, Sowell tells detectives he didn't know or remember the women whose bodies were found in his house, but that he does suffer from strange dreams and blackouts.

Sowell, 51, is on trial for the murder of 11 women and the assault of four others. The bodies of the women were found on and around his property after police raided his home in 2009 to arrest him for rape and assault.

Sowell could face the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charges against him, of aggravated murder.

Michael Baumiller, a sex crimes detective with the Cleveland police department, took the stand to testify about Sowell's demeanor as the first part of the interrogation played for the jury.

"He was relaxed and resigned, I would say," the detective said. The video shows a slim Sowell wearing a white T-shirt as he sits in the corner and asks for coffee and a cigarette.

Early on in the tape, Sowell admits to knowing and having sex with the woman he was arrested for assaulting but shows surprise when told she accused him of choking her with an electrical cord.

"Everything was cool," Sowell says on the tape.

Sowell gets more agitated during questioning, rubbing his face and head as the officers begin to ask about the bodies found in the house. At one point, Sowell murmurs, "Everyone is going to make me out to be evil."


Shortly into the interrogation, sex crime detectives are replaced by two homicide detectives -- Melvin Smith and Lem Griffin -- who had been to Sowell's house after six of the 11 bodies were found.

During his discussion with Smith and Griffin, Sowell answers, "I don't know" or "I don't remember" or "I just woke up in my bed" to questions about what happened to the women he brought to the house.

When asked how many of the women willingly came to the house he said, "All," he says. "They came, they came."

Sowell was also very talkative about his relationship with Lori Frazier, the niece of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. But he stopped when detectives pressed him on the identities of women he met and took home.

"I remember meeting them, talking to them, and then I think she didn't say goodbye," Sowell said on the tape.

Smith and Griffin calmly try to persuade Sowell to help out the families of the women found in his house by asking him to remember how he met them or what they were wearing.

"Some were cool, some would try to hustle or steal something," Sowell told the two homicide detectives. Asked if he remembered bodies in the room next to his bedroom, he tells them he was not allowed to enter that room.

"I had some idea but they were dreams," he said. "It was only a dream. Every night. I hurt somebody."

More than once Sowell mentioned that he was told not to do things, referring to "voices" he heard. But when asked if the voices made him do things, he was less sure.

"It is not real. That part is just separate," he said about his time with the women he met. "It's like I wake up and it is not there anymore."

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Cynthia Johnston)