Joseph Harwell pleads guilty to 1989 and 1996 Cleveland murders

Murders happened near Anthony Sowell's home

CLEVELAND - Prosecutors in Cuyahoga County said the man suspected of abducting and killing two women in the 80s and 90s has pleaded guilty to the crimes.

Joseph Harwell, now 51, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of abduction.

Prosecutors said the guilty pleas stem from the 1989 aggravated murder of Mary Thomas, 27, and the 1996 aggravated murder of 33-year-old Tondilear Harge.

Mary Thomas was found dead between two buildings by East Ohio Gas men working in an alleyway on First Avenue on Cleveland's east side. Thomas was pregnant when she was raped and strangled to death by Harwell.

Seven years later, Harwell struck again. Cleveland police found the body of Tondilear Harge in a vacant lot on the south side of Chester Avenue. Her body was in a wooded area between E. 86th and E. 87th streets. Harge was also raped and strangled to death.

Prosecutors said after Harwell, also known as Joseph Ober, murdered Thomas, he was convicted of felonious assault for strangling a 31-year-old woman in East Cleveland that same year. Harwell was sentenced to jail time and released on parole in 1995.

It was while he was on parole that prosecutors said he murdered Harge and then took off to Columbus. Six months later, Harwell murdered Teresa Vinson, said prosecutors.

Harwell will be sentenced by a judge in Cuyahoga County on Feb. 27 at 9:30 am. He faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.

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