A convicted sex offender pleaded not guilty Wednesday to kidnapping and killing three women whose bodies were found wrapped in trash bags earlier this month.
Michael Madison, 35, appeared via a video feed from jail for his arraignment, for which he was handcuffed and wearing orange jail scrubs. When the judge asked him how he was, Madison answered, "I've been better."
The judge continued his $6 million bond and said she would appoint two attorneys to represent him. A pretrial hearing was set for next week.
Madison is facing six charges of aggravated murder, two for each victim under different killing theories. He's also charged with three counts of kidnapping, three counts of gross abuse of a corpse, one count of rape and one count of weapon possession by an ex-convict.
East Cleveland police found one body July 19 when a caller reported a foul smell coming from a garage. Two more bodies were found the next day.
Madison was arrested in the deaths of Shirellda H. Terry, 18, Angela H. Deskins, 38, and Shetisha D. Sheeley, 28. The medical examiner said Terry and Deskins were strangled and Sheeley died of "homicidal violence by unspecified means."
The indictment said Madison raped Terry between July 10 and July 19. She was last seen July 10 leaving a Cleveland elementary school where she had a summer job.
Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002, when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to Cuyahoga County court records. He had previous convictions in 2000 and 2001 for drug-related charges.
The mayor of East Cleveland said Madison indicated he might have been influenced by Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, who was convicted in 2011 of killing 11 women and sentenced to death. His case is under appeal.
Sowell was arrested after a woman escaped from his house in 2009 and said she had been raped there. Police found the mostly nude bodies in garbage bags and plastic sheets throughout his property.
In another case of violence against women in the Cleveland area, three women who separately vanished a decade ago escaped to freedom from Ariel Castro's house on May 6 when one kicked out part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help.
Castro, 53, who was arrested within hours, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal which sends him to prison for life without parole, plus 1,000 years. Prosecutors agreed to take a possible death penalty charge off the table. He is scheduled for sentencing Thursday.