Demolition completed on convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell's house

CLEVELAND - Demolition was completed Tuesday on Cleveland's real life "House of Horrors."

By 3 p.m. crews only needed to fill in the basement hole where the house at 12205 Imperial Avenue once stood.

Crews with demolition equipment started gathering at Anthony Sowell's house on Cleveland's east side before 7 a.m. In October 2009, Cleveland police discovered the bodies of 10 women and a skull in and around the home.

  As crews were demolishing the home, they actually took each piece of the home to a facility that will shred the material to make sure the pieces wouldn't be sold online.

Family members of the victims received hand-delivered letters about the demolition plans on Monday. Several people lined the streets, holding signs and chanting "Tear it down!"

Just after 7 a.m., a backhoe was used to tear the second-story porch off the house.

A key witness for the prosecution, Vanessa Gay, was also there to watch the house come down. Gay told jurors that she was attacked and raped by Sowell, and that she even saw a headless body inside his house.

"It took me back to that room, back to that day," Gay said. She wiped away tears while talking to a NewsChannel5 photographer.

"It's a start, it's a start," Gay said. "This is my life. This is something I live with everyday. No sleep from it. But it gets better. It going to continue getting better. Not going to dwell on it. I'm going to turn a negative into a positive."

"It's already better. It's already better," Gay said, as she smiled and looked back at the home's remnants. She calls herself "a survivor of Anthony Sowell," and does not shy away from talking about her experiences. "We are stronger than we know."

The property owner, who according to court testimony is the mother of Sowell's stepmother, will foot the demolition bill. If the bill goes unpaid, the city could eventually take ownership of the property.

Prosecutors said Sowell lured the women to his house with drugs and alcohol. The remains were found in shallow graves in the backyard, buried in the basement and even hidden in a crawlspace. Representatives from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office testified that many of women were partially clothed, and had ligatures around their necks and wrists.

This summer, after more than 60 witnesses and 12 hours of interrogation video, a Cuyahoga County jury convicted the former Marine on 82 of 83 counts, including aggravated murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. That same jury recommended Sowell be sentenced to death.

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