92-year-old "just had" to see Anthony Sowell up close

8:16 PM, Jul 21, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- A World War II veteran attended the last day of the trial of Anthony Sowell to "see what an accused serial killer looks like."

Earl Singleton, 92, of Cleveland, says he has seen a lot in his life, and studies how people treat each other.

Sowell is accused of 11 murders and of trying to kill three other women in his home on Imperial Avenue.

"I wanted to see what a person looks like after committing so much wrong. Your expression, your movements. How do you feel normal after murder after murder after murder?"

Singleton says his study of man's inhumanity to man began as he grew up and experienced it personally in the highly segregated Deep South in the 1920's and 1930's.

During four years of duty as an Army Staff Sergeant during World War II, he remembers entering Nazi concentration camps.

"All those bodies of those Jewish people," he said softly, reaching for the words. "I really can't explain it. I still see it today."

His interest in human behavior then led him to attend the second murder trial of Dr. Sam Sheppard of Bay Village in 1966.

Singleton remembers being at the Old Courthouse for the sensational trial that gained as much or more attention as Sowell's.

In the 1970's, he also sat in on the murder trial of Robert Steele, the judge from Euclid charged with murdering his wife. "I remember they accused him of hiring a hit man so he could be with the lady he said he loved."

Singleton has long since retired from his job at a Cleveland steel mill, and says progress has been made in the type of racial discrimination he used to face himself, one of the aspects of human conduct that led him to study those accused of heinous crimes.

"I used to say, when I came to the plate, I got two strikes against me," he said, recalling a conversation he had with co-workers decades ago about his time in the South. 

"They asked me then would I rather have been white," he smiled. "I thought a while and told them I'd rather be black and free of hate."


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