Panel discusses suspected serial killer Sowell and his disposable victims

“Despite the fact that suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell has been charged in the murders of 11 Cleveland area women, experts believe that he may have actually killed as many as 70. This is one of the many shocking revelations that was addressed during Tuesday evening’s Disposable Women: Imperial Avenue, Cleveland Murders panel discussion hosted by the Women’s Studies department in the Student Union.”

Despite the fact that suspected serial killer Anthony Sowell has been charged in the murders of 11 Cleveland area women, experts believe that he may have actually killed as many as 70.

This is one of the many shocking revelations that was addressed during Tuesday evening’s Disposable Women: Imperial Avenue, Cleveland Murders panel discussion hosted by the Women’s Studies department in the Student Union.

The discussion, led by assistant professor of criminal justice technology and director of the Women’s Studies program Pat Millhoff, featured three panelists from diverse backgrounds: David Licate, associate professor in the criminal justice department and an expert in crime analysis, Dr. Mary Myers, also an associate professor in the criminal justice department and an export on serial killers and serial profiling and Phil Trexler, a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal.

The panel addressed many pertinent topics, including Sowell’s backgrounds and his disposable, faceless victims.

Myers, an ex-police officer and a retired captain of the Akron Police Department, began the conversation by giving a basic profile of Sowell.

If convicted, which many including Myers believe he will be, Sowell, a black man, will be a bit of an anomaly among serial killers, who are almost always Caucasian males.

Most of the time serial crimes stay inside racial lines and there are few black male serial killers, Myers said.

The FBI has classified Sowell as a sexual lust murderer.

These murderers get angry in the middle of a sex act because they do not get what they wants and kills.

Myers disagrees with this categorization, mainly because these types of killers keep souvenirs or trophies from their victims but Sowell did not.

There were no signs of sexual sadism or sexual deviancy in Sowell’s house, where the murders supposedly took place.

Instead, Myers thinks that Sowell, who is eligible for the death penalty, is like a spider, a man who quietly sits in a corner and no one pays attention to.

He didn’t carry his victims into his home kicking and screaming, but rather they went into his home voluntarily upon his invitation.

More than anything, Myers believes that Sowell is a quiet serial killer with poor impulse control.

She also suspects that he suffers from an impulse control disorder, and that Sowell’s service in the military may have had something to do with triggering it.

(As part of basic training), Sowell was taught how to go beyond his control and kill people. He was also taught hand-to-hand combat, Myers said.

She believes that Sowell first killed in his mid-20s and, because he was not held accountable for his actions, did it again a couple of years later.

His killing eventually turned into a frequent cycle.

Because Sowell was in the Navy and has been to ports all over the world and has also lived in various locations, there is a very large possibility that he has committed more murders than he has been charged with.

Though it will never be known how many people Sowell really killed, Myers truly thinks that he has killed anywhere from 50 to 70 victims.

Her convictions are supported by the fact that Sowell frequently bought trash bags at a local store, sometimes two or three times a week.

Judging from the murders he has already been charged with, Sowell, who was released from prison in 1995, liked to prey on a particular type of victim: lower-class black women often with alcohol or drug problems.

One of the most controversial topics of the Sowell case is the question as to why the women he killed weren’t reported missing, which would have helped prevent future murders.

The reason why Sowell’s victims, which Myers compared to chicken bones and Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Connie Schultz equated with Dixie cups, were not reported missing is because many of them led irregular, dysfunctional lives wrought with drug and alcohol abuse. It would not be alarming to their families if they were absent for a period of time.

Myers argued that women have the right to be alcoholics, the right to be drug addicts and the right to disappear.

She said that individuals have a natural human tendency to blame victims, but that Sowell’s victims should not be blamed for what happened to them.

Millhoff described the tragic situation when she said, Sowell’s victims fell through the cracks of the criminal justice system.