Three Girls Found Dead In East Cleveland, Volunteers Search For More Bodies
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — A search by volunteers this afternoon of an East Cleveland neighborhood where the bodies of three murder victims were discovered last weekend resulted in a small bone being found in an abandoned apartment building.
The discovery was reported to East Cleveland police, but volunteers were unsure if the bone was human.
About two dozen volunteers, including adults, teenagers and young children, joined today’s search organized by community activists, which began at 2 p.m. at the corner of Shaw and Hayden avenues. It ended just before 4 p.m.
Michael White, 40, of East Cleveland, found the bone on the second floor of an abandoned three-story apartment building on Elderwood Avenue near Strathmore Street.
“I’m out here because it’s the right thing to do,” White said. “They should have torn down these (abandoned) houses years ago. We have to start taking more ownership for our community.”
Among the volunteers searching was Christine Wilson, who said her 21-year-old daughter was raped Tuesday on East 146th Street in East Cleveland, just two weeks after her 15-year-old granddaughter was raped on Cleveland’s West Side.
Community activist Art McKoy of Black on Black Crime Inc. said Wilson’s story is the reason why men in the community need to be active participants in protecting women.
The volunteers initially focused the search on a grassy area behind an old field at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center on Shaw Avenue, looking for more possible victims of accused killer Michael Madison.
Carrying long wooden sticks, the volunteers poked through tall grass and other debris to see if they notice anything unusual.
McKoy said he’s talked to residents in neighborhood and they said the grassy area behind the Civic Center was a “problem area” where someone might possibly bury a body.
East Cleveland resident Anthony Carter, 25, who lives near the area where Madison lived, joined the search.
“I came out here because I’ve been living here my whole life and nothing like this has ever happened,” Carter said. “I don’t know any of the victims personally, but this is very sad and I felt like I needed to do something to help.”
Community activist Judy Martin of Survivors/Victims of Tragedy Inc. and Black on Black Crime Inc. said Tuesday it was hoped 300 men would volunteer for today’s search.
“If we can get 50 to 100 today, that would be great,” she said.
Investigators and residents have already searched a large area around the Shaw-Hayden-East 139th area where the bodies of Angela Deskins, Shetisha Sheeley and Shirellda Helen Terry, 18, were found Friday and Saturday.
The victims’ accused killer, Madison, 35, of Cleveland, is charged with three counts of murder and three counts of kidnapping and currently is jailed on a $6 million bond.
Martin said earlier today she and others are suspicious there might be other undiscovered victims of the accused killer in the neighborhood.
“We just to have to try to make as sure as humanly possible there’s nobody else in the area,” she said.
A rally for women’s safety will be held at 5 p.m. today at the same location where the search began.
Among the rally headliners will be family members of Deskins, the first victim identified.
Also attending will be Yvonne Pointer, whose 14-year-old daughter was raped and murdered on her way home from school decades ago, and the family of Christine Malone, who was raped and murdered on Cleveland’s East Side. Her body was found in March.
“We are inviting all people across race and gender lines to join us for the Stop Violence Against Women and Find the Missing rallies, vigil and march,” said Imperial Women leader Kathy Wray Coleman, who is organizing a rally. Coleman’s group was founded following the murders of 11 black women on Imperial Avenue by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell.
“Violence against women, without regard to race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, has escalated in the Greater Cleveland area and women now are even more at risk,” she said.
Other sponsoring groups include the Oppressed People’s Nation, the Carl Stokes Brigade, Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor, and Black on Black Crime.
Martin said the community has been “devastated” by the discovery of the three murder victims. She said there needs to be improvement in how law enforcement and he media respond to missing-persons cases.
“We need to continue to revamp the system and improve responses,” she said.