CLEVELAND (AP) — A convicted sex offender was found guilty Thursday of the murder of three women whose bodies were found wrapped in garbage bags in a case that raised fears that another serial killer was hunting for victims in the Cleveland area.
The jury deliberated about one day before convicting Michael Madison of aggravated murder and kidnapping. That same jury will decide whether to recommend to a judge that Madison should be sentenced to death.
The discovery of the bodies drew national attention to the possibility that another serial killer like Anthony Sowell had been killing women in and around Cleveland. Sowell was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death for killing 11 women whose bodies were found at his Cleveland home. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold his conviction and sentence.
A judge in Madison’s trial granted a motion by defense attorneys that prevented prosecutors from comparing Madison to Sowell.
Defense attorney David Grant argued during the three-week trial that the killings weren’t premediated but occurred after “spontaneous eruptions of violence” by Madison, who had problems with drugs and alcohol. Madison, 38, told police during an interrogation after his arrest that he strangled two of the women during fits of rage.
The bodies of 38-year-old Angela Deskins, 28-year-old Shetisha Sheeley and 18-year-old Shirellda Terry were found in July 2013 near the East Cleveland apartment building where Madison lived.
A cable television worker told police about a putrid smell that summer coming from a garage shared by Madison at his apartment building. Police found the decaying body of a woman wrapped in garbage bags that were sealed with tape. Searchers the following day found a body in the basement of a vacant house and another in the backyard of a home.
Madison was arrested at his mother’s home in Cleveland after a two-hour standoff.
A medical examiner said two of the victims, Deskins and Terry, were strangled. An exact cause of death couldn’t be determined for Sheeley.
Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002 when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape.