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Authorities work to identify East Cleveland victims as suspect is charged

By Anna Coren. Michael Pearson and Emily Smith, CNN
updated 7:52 PM EDT, Mon July 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Medical examiner asks for public help in two unidentified victims
  • Suspect in the deaths of three women is charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping
  • Michael Madison, 35, has been arrested in the deaths
  • The suspect "idolized" serial killer Anthony Sowell, the mayor of East Cleveland says

East Cleveland, Ohio (CNN) -- A man who police say might have looked to the work of an infamous Cleveland serial killer for his inspiration was formally charged Monday in the deaths of three women whose bodies were found over the weekend, two of which are still unidentified.

Michael Madison, 35, was ordered held on $6 million bond after authorities filed three counts of aggravated murder and three counts of kidnapping against him.

The bodies were found within a few blocks from each other in East Cleveland over the weekend. The first victim was found Friday in the garage leased by Madison. She was naked with signs of trauma, police said.

Two other bodies were found Saturday -- one in an abandoned house, the other in a nearby field. One of those women was wearing a green hoodie, and the other was wearing a leopard-print leotard.

Ohio man charged with 3 counts of murder
Chief: Women claim they escaped him
3 bodies found wrapped in plastic
Women found wrapped in plastic

All three victims appear to be young black women. Their decomposed bodies were wrapped similarly in plastic garbage bags and taped up, authorities said.

Mayor Gary Norton believes the killings happened over a 10-day period and that the same assailant is responsible.

Norton identified one of the women, previously known as Victim No. 2, as Angela Deskins, 38, of Cleveland.

Help sought to ID two other victims

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson pleaded with help from the public to identify the other women, one of whom had several tattoos, including two featuring the name "Gene." Their identification could take days, he said.

East Cleveland police Chief Ralph Spotts declined to answer questions about the case.

"This is an ongoing investigation. We are nowhere near done," he said.

Madison might have been influenced by serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was sentenced to death in 2011 after being convicted of killing 11 women in Cuyahoga County, Norton said.

"Unfortunately, this is a sick individual who appears to have been influenced by another sick individual," Norton said over the weekend. "If he had been out for one more hour, there's no telling what would have happened."

Spotts and Norton thanked residents who assisted in the weekend search for potential victims. Some 100 people helped, they said.

Fast facts on serial killers

Who is the suspect?

The trail that led to Madison's arrest began with a foul odor coming from the garage he leased, East Cleveland police Detective Sgt. Scott Gardner said. That's where police found the first body.

Authorities got a search warrant for Madison's apartment Friday and found "additional evidence of decomposition" there, Gardner said.

Police later found Madison at his mother's house in nearby Cleveland. After a standoff, he was taken into custody.

When detectives returned to Madison's neighborhood to scour for evidence Saturday, they found the other two bodies in the field and the abandoned house.

According to police, Madison was convicted of attempted rape in 2001 and is a registered sex offender.

CNN could not immediately reach a representative for Madison.

Shaeaun Child, a neighbor who tipped police off about the foul smell in the garage, told CNN he knows Madison. He said the two once argued over a blocked driveway.

"From what I know, he was an OK person when I first met him. And then from there, he actually, he had a lot of conflicts with different girls that he knew," Child said. "When he real upset with someone, he get real loud. You could hear him like two blocks away."

CNN's John Branch, Chris Welch, Morgan Winsor and Alina Cho contributed to this report

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