Cleveland, Ohio (CNN) -- A Cleveland city council member called Wednesday for an independent investigation into whether police and health authorities should have spotted signs of foul play sooner at a house where 11 bodies were found.
Since the discovery of the bodies, residents of the blue-collar neighborhood have asked how authorities could have missed the pervasive stench at the house and neglected to pursue signs of problems there.
The council member, Zach Reed, told CNN on Wednesday he received a call about the smell in 2007.
"We received a phone call from a resident that said a foul odor came across the street and it smells like a dead person. Not dead meat, not a dead animal -- a dead person," Reed said.
The entire council issued a statement saying the "top priorities at this time must be to discover the full extent of the tragedies and to bring forth justice. "
"We acknowledge the issues being raised by the community and the media and will examine the case at the appropriate time but we will do nothing to impede the ongoing investigation," it said in a statement.
Authorities Wednesday identified the first of 11 bodies pulled from the home of Anthony Sowell, a registered sex offender in jail without bond. The victim was Tonia Carmichael, who had been missing for about a year, police said.
Sowell was arrested Saturday, two days after police discovered the first bodies inside and outside the home. He faces five counts of aggravated murder, rape, felonious assault and kidnapping, police said.
Frank Miller, Cuyahoga County coroner, told reporters that seven of the victims died from strangulation by a ligature, which can include a string, cord or wire, and all of the seven still had something tied around their necks.
An eighth victim died from strangulation by someone's hands. Two other bodies were too badly decomposed to determine the cause of death, although Miller said he believed they were victims of "homicidal violence." Autopsy results on the 11th victim are pending.
"It's most likely strangulation in all cases," Miller said.
Video: Serial killer suspect in court
Video: More bodies in backyard
* Sexual Offenses
* Murder and Homicide
Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said some of the victims could have been missing for up to five years. Carmichael was identified using DNA, and authorities were performing DNA tests on the other 10 victims found at Sowell's three-story home.
Many in Sowell's neighborhood wondered how authorities could have missed the signs of problems at the house. People said they had complained for some time about a foul smell that permeated the neighborhood, turning the stomachs of residents and curtailing their outdoor activities.
"We used to think that it was coming from out of Ray's Sausage," said one resident, referring to a nearby business. "But you smell these smells, and I live right there and ... we used to come out here and oh, these smells would just be horrible."
"You could smell it," said another neighborhood woman. "I came around the corner and I smell it. You could smell the dead bodies. How are you going to tell me people in the neighborhood couldn't smell that?"
Ray's Sausage Co. replaced a sewer line and grease traps, trying to rid the area of the stench. But the smell stayed, until police found the bodies at Sowell's house.
Six of the victims were found inside the home and five outside; a skull was wrapped in a paper bag and stuffed into a bucket in the basement, police said. Authorities said they had no information about the smell in the area before the bodies were found.
Police initially went to Sowell's home last Thursday to follow up on a rape accusation. A week earlier, neighbors reported seeing a naked woman fall from the second floor, but no charges were filed.
Neighbors called 911 after the October 20 incident, and emergency personnel -- but not police, initially -- were sent to the home, McGrath told reporters Tuesday.
Firefighters later notified police, who responded to the hospital where the woman was taken, he said. She told officers that she was at the home and "partying," he said. "They were doing coke, drugs, getting high."
You could smell the dead bodies. How are you going to tell me people in the neighborhood couldn't smell that?
--Neighbor of Anthony Sowell
The woman said she was on an upper balcony and fell off the roof while trying to pick up her keys. A man described as her boyfriend -- Sowell -- told police the same story.
"At any point, that gal could have said, 'Hey, wait a minute,' but she did not," McGrath said.
Carmichael was last seen on November 10, 2008, disappearing from Warrensville Heights, a Cleveland suburb near Sowell's home, and her vehicle was found in Cleveland. She was 52 at the time.
In the missing persons report, Carmichael's mother, Barbara, told police her daughter was addicted to crack and had previously disappeared for several days at a time. But she said she believed something had happened to her because she had not picked up two paychecks.
The news of the death was especially difficult for the victim's mother.
"As you can imagine, it's heartbreaking for the whole family, but this was her child," said Danita Carmichael, the victim's daughter. "This was her daughter, her angel, her princess, and now we will never see her again. She's gone."
Sowell had been charged with a 1989 rape and pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted rape under a plea agreement, court records show. Police said he was imprisoned from 1990 to 2005. Since his release from prison, he was listed as living at the Cleveland home where the bodies were found, McGrath said.
Authorities from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office checked on Sowell regularly, with the most recent check coming on September 22 to confirm his address, McGrath said. They found no problems, he said.
Police began to get suspicious of Sowell about a month ago, after a woman accused him of rape and assault, said Cleveland Police Lt. Thomas Stacho. Investigators obtained the warrants that set off the search after getting the "cooperation of the victim," he said.
During his hearing on Wednesday, Sowell showed no emotion when he appeared before Municipal Judge Ronald Adrine. Asked whether he could afford a lawyer, Sowell responded quietly, "No sir."
Kathleen Demetz, the public defender representing Sowell, asked that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation. She also said that Sowell, an ex-Marine, has a heart condition and wears a pacemaker.
Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Murphy said during the court hearing: "The state believes he's an incredibly dangerous threat."
Sowell has told authorities he had been collecting unemployment payments since being laid off from his job two years ago. It wasn't immediately known what that job was.
Stacho has said Sowell was making his living as a "scrapper."
"He walks around and picks up scrap metal and takes it to junk yards to make a few pennies," he said.
Police said authorities in Coronado, California, also were checking to see if Sowell might be tied to a rape case there.
This dude is SICK! I just don't understand how you kill 11 people and then live, surrounded by the stench and presence of death for all those years and then continue life as normal, offering BBQ to the damn neighbors (screaming)!!
I remember a while back there was a very short report on 6 missing women that they said the media "forgot" and nobody bothered to look for them because they were known drug users and prostitutes....and to have to find them this way.
I just don't get any of the stuff that's happening in the world now, it's terrifying, to the point where you have to be weary of the neighbor you've known for 5 years or the father of your child because you don't know what they are capable of.
God Bless all the victims and may they rest in peace! Once again the system has failed us and I know exactly how the families of the victims feel. This dude deserves a first class ticket to hell, don't sit him up in jail, where he gets the honor to eat and still breathe the air on earth, execute his @$$ ASAP!
This is how they treat low income minorities. It is a shame that the neighborhood was allowed to have that stench for so long. This is a coverup, there is no way in hell a police officer went to his home to check on him and did not notice the smell of rotting flesh.
well, there goes lunch. what is wrong with people. (yall see he is a former marine) a good chunk of the people that go to the marines, navy, ary, reserves, etc. come out a lil throughed off. the veterans where committing suicide and all types of ish here at the va in dallas. i think that has alot to do with this man doing this type of stuff.
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