Published July 22, 2013
Authorities charged a Cleveland man Monday with three counts of aggravated murder, after the bodies of three women were found over the weekend wrapped in trash bags.
Police charged 35-year-old Michael Madison with the deaths of the women -- one of whom was identified as 38-year-old Angela Deskins of Cleveland. The other two women have not yet been identified due to advanced stages of decomposition, the medical examiner said.
"We are in the midst of tragedy," East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said at a press conference Monday. Norton said the women were killed "senselessly" by a man with "no regard for human life."
An odor led to the discovery Friday of one body in a garage. Two others were found Saturday -- one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The bodies of the three women were all wrapped in plastic bags in fetal positions.
Norton said a call to police led authorities to a home and a standoff with the man, who was eventually taken into custody. The mayor has said the suspect indicated he might have been influenced by the earlier case of Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in the deaths of 11 women.
Medical examiner Thomas Gilson also said he couldn't determine a cause of death because of the bodies' conditions. Gilson said one victim had distinctive tattoos on her body -- one said "Jean," another "Lil Wayne," a reference to the famous rapper.
Madison also was charged with three separate counts of kidnapping. He is being held on a $6 million bond, $1 million for each count.
The bodies, all women, were found about 100 to 200 yards apart, and authorities say the victims were killed in the previous six to 10 days.
Police and volunteers scoured about 40 empty homes Sunday for more evidence until their search was suspended, with no immediate plans to resume, Police Chief Ralph Spotts said. Norton said Monday that no bodies were found, but Spotts stressed that the investigation remained open.
It's the third recent high-profile case in the Cleveland area that involves missing women.
In May, three women who separately vanished about a decade ago were found captive in a rundown house. Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, has been charged with nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes and has pleaded not guilty.
Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck. He also fathered a daughter with one captive, authorities said.
In 2009, Sowell was arrested after a woman escaped from his house and said she had been raped there. Police found the mostly nude bodies of 11 women throughout the home.
Sowell's victims ranged in age from 24 to 52, all were recovering or current drug addicts and most died of strangulation; some had been decapitated, and others were so badly decomposed that coroners couldn't say with certainty how they died.
He was found guilty in 2011 and sentenced to death.
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.