Anthony Sowell killed upwards of 11 women.
Latundra Billups ran like hell.
It was so long ago. Before she found love and added “Henderson” as her last name. She experienced the very worst of humanity when she was “on the market” and still dating. It was a terrifying and maddening experience that left a powerful imprint on her.
She felt so vulnerable. Like she had let the evil in and somehow given it reign over her life. She felt responsible for what happened, even though she clearly wasn’t.
How could the man do it? She felt the eyes of a predator on her as she bolted from the apartment of Anthony Sowell. She was bruised, bloodied, and violated in the worst ways a woman can be violated by scum who call themselves “men”.
Little did Billups-Henderson her experience and bravery would help make sure a monster was permanently locked in a cage.
In 2008, Galdys Wade-Thomas was raped and nearly killed at Sowell’s hands. She went to Cleveland Police to report that Sowell, a violent sex offender, raped and tried to kill her.
She believes that now-retired Detective Georgia Hussein botched the investigation from there, allowing further assaults and rapes, including that of Latundra Billups-Henderson.
A court agreed with her in a surprising departure from the principles and cases of qualified immunity, which usually protects police officers from lawsuits about their jobs. The city of Cleveland ended up paying Wade Thomas $40,000 and Billups-Henderson a whopping $260,000.
Anthony Sowell was only caught when Latundra Billups and later two other women accused Sowell of brutal abductions and rapes. Investigators knocked on his door when they began noticing very suspicious things that led to an entire search of the residence.
Investigators would ultimately find the bones of 11 women on the property.
THAT is what we should remember about the horrific case of Anthony Sowell. 11 individual women strangled. 11 victims. Everyone is an individual: a daughter; a sister; a mother; an aunt; a friend.
So often in the study of crime, the idea of victimhood gets lionized. We lose names, personalities, and individual characteristics when that happens. Victims become one-dimensional caricatures and lose what makes them human.
This memorial is a great way to avoid that happening in this case.