Latundra Billups walked away, barely, from a serial killer in September 2009. Maybe it was the survival skills she acquired living a drug-addicted life on the streets of Cleveland or maybe a higher power hadn’t decided it was her time to go. Whatever it was, Billups appreciated that from which she had escaped and despite her instincts, she reported her near-murder to police.
Anthony Sowell was a familiar name to Cleveland police. He was a registered sex offender and several women had complained of being raped and nearly strangled to death. But these were junkies; women willing to trade sex for drugs, so what if the sex became a little too rough? And sure, there was several missing persons reports on women from the area. But, again, they were drug-addicts? They could be anywhere.
But that smell…
Author Steve Miller recounts the case of State of Ohio vs. Anthony Sowell in his latest book Nobody’s Women: The Crimes and Victims of Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Serial Killer.
As much as I hate to admit it, I initially began reading the stories of these women’s disappearances and deaths with the thought, “Ladies, you are putting yourselves in this horrible position.” And from the reading I’ve done through online forums, I’m not the only one who felt that way.
Well, quite frankly, it’s a thoughtless, arrogant, and holier-than-thou opinion which I carry no more. Miller took the time to tell each and every victim’s story, from how they began their lives with the same hope we all have to their drug addiction downfalls. But, more importantly, he humanized them and made me realize they weren’t just street junkies. These women were daughters, sisters, mothers, and aunts with family who loved them – despite their flaws and bad choices.
Just as any of us would do with our own family.
Anytime an author can take a case viewed by so many as having “victimless victims” and end up eliciting such strong emotion from me, he deserves five stars – plus some!
Additionally, the writing is smooth; bringing together a group of the downtrodden without losing their individuality then on to the judicial proceedings (with an interesting twist, by the way) with flawlessness. Readers will be pleased to find the trial portion is not a repeat but rather unweighted with information not mentioned in the first 200+ pages.
From the ghetto of Cleveland to the heart and soul of readers, Nobody’s Women is a book you want to read and one you won’t forget.
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