Michelle Mason was a 45-year-old mother who disappeared off the streets of Cleveland eight years ago, and was later found dead in a house on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland. She was a victim of African American serial killer Anthony Sowell. The Sowell case has been the subject of countless documentaries that have appeared on Investigation Discovery. But, this Monday night, TV One — the new leader in crime TV geared toward black cases — will debut the story of Michelle Mason for their hit show, Justice By Any Means. The episode, titled “Adlean Atterberry,” will focus on the story of a mother’s relentless search to find her missing daughter. Today, the killer, Anthony Sowell, is currently on Ohio’s death row.
On TV One’s Justice By Any Means, Adlean Atterberry, the mother of missing victim Michelle Mason, will take viewers back to the day in October, 2008, when she saw her daughter for the last time. The family hadn’t expected not to see Michelle again. It was true that she had many problems in the past related to drug addiction and leaving her children, but it seemed that all of that was over, since Michelle seemed to be pulling her life back together, her sister, Mary Mason, told Cleveland.
“She had a tough life. She got turned around there and had some bad years, but she came through. She was very strong, she had the right attitude. I often said if you could bottle what she had — her personality, her outlook — it was a lifesaver to her. She didn’t stress and worry and let that kill her. Her illness, whatever, she did not let things get her down. She took it in stride, did what she had to do and went on.”
Still, as night turned to morning, Michelle Mason’s mother and sons grew worried when they didn’t hear from her. To them, it was an all-too-familiar story. Michelle had been coming in and out of their lives since they were small children. However, whenever they would see her again, they were always excited.
But now that she was missing again, they thought perhaps she’d returned to her old ways of running the streets. What Michelle Mason’s family didn’t know was that a serial killer was on the loose. Right there in Cleveland, women were vanishing in and around 2007 and 2008 without a trace. And no one was making the connection between the missing women and a house of horrors on Imperial Avenue.
The skeletons all came tumbling out after police made a grizzly discovery at the home of Anthony Sowell — a once-respected man who often helped single mothers in the neighborhood and had nice backyard barbecues for the neighbors. Years earlier, Anthony Sowell had a stride about him, a stride that drew many women to him. Those who knew Anthony Sowell say that he was handsome, hard-working, and well-spoken. Life changed drastically for him after he lost his job due to his health. That’s when they noticed that Sowell would walk the streets looking disheveled.
His house on Imperial was once a nice and tidy home. But on the day the police discovered decomposing bodies, it was gritty, dirty, and it stank to high heaven. One woman in particular survived an attack after Anthony Sowell pulled her inside his home. Another woman told police that she once saw a headless corpse sitting upright.
Eventually, 11 bodies were found on the property, and 50-year-old Anthony Sowell was arrested. Michelle Mason’s family learned that she was strangled, and then buried in Sowell’s backyard. The house on Imperial Avenue stands no more. It was demolished in 2011.
Authorities say that the rapist and serial killer sought out transient women who were addicted to drugs. In addition to Michelle Mason, Anthony Sowell’s other victims were identified as Diane Turner, Telacia Fortson, Janice Webb, Nancy Cobbs, Tishana Culver, Amelda Hunter, Leshanda Long, Tonia Carmichael, Crystal Dozier, and Kim Smith.
To learn about Michelle Mason’s part in the story, watch Justice By Any Means on TV One this Monday, April 25, at 10/9 p.m. central.