CLEVELAND - The house that sits at 12205 Imperial Avenue holds special memories for Veosie Cox, who lived there for 40 years. In November 2009, then-96-year-old Cox spoke with NewsChannel5.
Cox has seen a lot in her life, much while living at the home that is now synonymous with mass murder. For her, it was synonymous with a life well lived, which is why she was shocked when she learned what happened there.
"It just got me. I couldn't believe it," Cox said.
Cox rented the first floor from the grandparents of suspected killer Anthony Sowell and watched generations of her family mark milestones under its roof. That includes her great granddaughter, Kimberly Roquemore, whose childhood memories are now mixed with a harsh reality.
"I'm thinking like, who was killed in the back bedroom? Was someone killed in the yellow kitchen where my great grandmother cooked collard greens and sweet potato pies? We had Thanksgiving dinner for generations in the dining room, so were bodies in that room?" said Roquemore.
Family photos are all that's left of the home, as they remember it. In the days that followed the gruesome discovery, Cleveland police, the FBI and the Cuyahoga County coroner went through the home piece by piece. They tore through Sowell's home and the house next door, which was abandoned. They searched inside and out, even under the front porch, and at times using thermal imaging cameras.
"Tearing down the walls, I hate that, but I guess you have to do it because somebody might be in the walls, right?" Cox said, just after the gruesome discovery.
"I just hate to see the house go down because it was so lovely, so comfortable and everything when I was there," Roquemore said.
Cox and her family wanted to stress how much their hearts break for the 11 victims found in the house and how a house full of such love could be tied to such pain.