FBI still probing Cleveland suspect’s Okinawa activities
December 17, 2009
The FBI said Tuesday that it is too early to know whether any cold cases at U.S. military facilities on Okinawa are linked to alleged serial killer and former Marine Anthony Sowell.
The 50-year-old convicted sex offender is charged with 11 counts of murder and a string of other charges in an 85-count indictment that includes rape, assault and abuse of a corpse after police in Ohio found the decomposing bodies of 11 women at his Cleveland home in October.
The FBI is searching for any unsolved crimes that might be connected to Sowell’s Marine Corps service over two decades ago, including a stint on Okinawa, said Special Agent Scott Wilson, spokesman for the FBI Cleveland office.
“We are looking at that time when he was overseas,” Wilson said. “We want to make sure there aren’t any violent crimes linked to him.”
But so far, the FBI has just started the investigation as part of a broader look into Sowell’s past and has not yet sifted through any potentially connected cases in Japan, he said.
Sowell, who served in the Marine Corps from 1978 to 1985, was stationed at Camp Butler for a year starting in January 1984. After the one-year tour he transferred to Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was discharged, UPI reported.
Investigation of his service on Okinawa will first require coordination between the FBI overseas, the U.S. military and the Japanese government, Wilson said.
The Marine Corps on Okinawa said it could not comment Tuesday because the issue includes areas outside its command and directed questions to its headquarters in Washington.
Meanwhile, Wilson said the FBI is relying on a national database of unsolved crimes to find possible links to Sowell in the areas he lived within the United States.
While in the Marine Corps, he was also stationed at Parris Island, S.C.; Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and Cherry Point, N.C., UPI reported.
Sowell, who has pleaded not guilty for reasons of insanity to the current charges, was convicted of attempted rape in Ohio in 1989 and sent to prison for 15 years, the wire service said.
Just before Halloween, Cleveland police searched his home and found the bodies of the women, who authorities believe were lured into the home and killed.
The residence became a grim dig site in November as police uncovered evidence in the case.