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Neighbors, loved ones shocked after four bodies found in blighted home

Posted at 4:54 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 18:30:04-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland police detectives and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner are still trying to identify the badly decomposed bodies that were found in a blighted, vacant home on the East Side Saturday night. The discovery, which neighbors described as shocking and terrifying, has fueled grave concerns for one Cleveland woman who believes her former boyfriend may be amongst the dead.

Around 9 p.m. Saturday, officers were dispatched to the home in the 3600 block of East 144th Street for a report of a foul odor coming from the home. Upon making entry, officers reported there were four decomposing bodies on the third floor. Police officials also reported finding a gun in the home. The names of the deceased and the causes of death have not been determined.

According to county property records, the home is owned by Ohio Erie Properties, a limited partnership that traces back to former Cleveland city councilman John E. Barnes and his wife, Edna. Barnes is also listed as the business’ statutory agent and the tax address is listed as their affluent, sprawling estate in Cleveland Heights. Barnes could not be reached for comment and no one answered the door Monday afternoon.

Property records list Ohio Erie Properties as the owners of nearly a dozen properties across Cuyahoga County. Most of the properties, including the blighted structure on East 144th Street are tax delinquent. In total, Ohio Erie Properties owes more than $100,000 in delinquent property taxes. The home on East 144th Street has been chronically vacant, neighbors said.

“I just believe that they should tear down all the abandoned homes and things like this wouldn’t be able to happen,” said neighbor Tracy Gates. “My grandmother always told me it’s not where you live, it’s how you live. It would be a better place if they tear down these homes. It would look so much better. There are so many of them.”

Since the gruesome discovery, a steady stream of cars and people have driven or stopped by the home, many of whom have left cards, flowers or balloons. Among them was Sierra Hayes, who said the family of her ex-boyfriend notified her that he was amongst the dead. Hayes and her ex-boyfriend once lived at the home.

News 5 is withholding her ex-boyfriend’s name because the medical examiner’s office has not publicly released his identity.

“When I saw it on the news, I was shocked. That’s the house I used to stay at, the house where me and my son and my [son’s father] use to stay at,” Hayes said. “He said he was going to take his son to Chuck E Cheese for his birthday next month. He was going to do things for him for his birthday. Now he’s not here. He’s in the sky now.”

Hayes said she had not heard from her ex-boyfriend in at least two weeks. She also does not know why he would be back at the home.

“I had to tell my son last night that your daddy is gone. There’s nothing else I could say. He’s gone,” Hayes said. “I just wish I could see him for the last time and tell him I love him.”

If you have any information on this incident or the identities of the deceased, you are urged to contact Cleveland police or the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.