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The macabre hunt for victims ended Sunday in a gritty section of East Cleveland, Ohio, after the bodies of three black women were found wrapped in plastic.
Police Chief Ralph Spotts said the search targeted scores of abandoned homes. Dozens of officers and volunteers were warned to be alert for the smell of rotting bodies.
The search ended Sunday evening without finding more bodies, and police did not plan to search Monday.
The sad drama began Friday, when a report of a foul odor emanating from a home led police to the discovery of the first body, found in a garage, and to a standoff with a suspect.
Spotts said Sunday that Michael Madison, 35, a registered sex offender, is in custody and is expected to be formally charged Monday.
On Saturday, two more bodies were found — one in a backyard and the other in the basement of a vacant house. The victims were killed in the last six to 10 days, police said.
The suspect told investigators he was influenced by serial killer Anthony Sowell, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said. Sowell is awaiting execution after being convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and hiding their remains in his Cleveland home.
The bodies found since Friday were each in the fetal position, wrapped in several layers of trash bags, Norton said. He said detectives continue to interview the suspect, who used his mother's address in Cleveland in registering as a sex offender.
"The person in custody, some of the things he said to investigators made us go back today," Norton said.
The neighborhood has many abandoned houses and authorities want to be thorough, the mayor said. "Hopefully, we pray to God, this is it," he said.
The FBI and state law enforcement officials were assisting East Cleveland police in the investigation. The Cuyahoga Medical Examiners Office said it may take several days to identify the remains already found.
Cleveland.com reports that Madison pleaded guilty to attempted rape more than a decade ago. He was given the least serious sex offender status, which requires registration once a year for 10 years, the website said. His local criminal history otherwise includes drug possession and trafficking, the website reported.