Report: Serial killer once denied childhood abuse
CLEVELAND – A prosecutor presented a report on Friday that showed a serial killer who hid the remains of 11 women in his home and yard has denied being abused as a child, a statement that contradicts the defense's claim that he suffered from mental illnesses caused by childhood trauma.
During cross-examination of Dr. George Woods, an expert hired by the defense, assistant prosecutor Richard Bombik read aloud from a sex offender report taken in 2005 when Anthony Sowell was being released from prison after serving 15 years for attempted rape.
"He never attempted to run away, and all forms of abuse and neglect were denied," Bombik said. "The defendant got along well with his parents. In general, he described his childhood as good."
Woods testified Thursday that Sowell suffers from several mental illnesses, including obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder that results from abuse he sustained during childhood. Sowell grew up in a family that had a history of physical abuse that went back for generations, Woods said Thursday.
"That is a contradiction of your report," Bombik said to Woods after reading the sex offender report aloud.
"Absolutely," Woods said.
Sowell was convicted last month of aggravated murder in the 11 deaths. The jury has been hearing evidence this week before it recommends either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Bombik also read from a prison-intake evaluation recorded after Sowell was convicted of attempted rape in 1989. In that report, Sowell filled out answers to fill-in-the-blank prompts. In his answer to the prompt that begins with the word "women," Sowell wrote: "just tell lies."
"That's a pretty profound statement, isn't it?" Bombik said.
Police said Sowell lured victims to his home with the promise of alcohol or drugs. Police began finding the remains, including a skull, just before Halloween 2009 after officers went to investigate a woman's report that she had been raped there.
Many of the victims had been missing for weeks or months, and some had criminal records. They were disposed of in garbage bags and plastic sheets, then dumped in various parts of the house and backyard.