The Cleveland Strangler is an eye-opening documentary from VICE that delves deep into the case of serial killer Anthony Sowell and the devastating consequences of his crimes. It follows Wilbert Cooper, a former Cleveland resident, as he retraces Sowell’s horrific acts and brings to light the issues around poverty and race in law enforcement’s response.
The documentary paints a vivid picture of Cleveland at the time of Sowell’s reign of terror; a city beset by economic instability, drug addiction and gang violence. It was in this environment that Sowell was able to operate undetected for two years, targeting vulnerable victims who were easily overlooked in their destitute circumstances.
The film interviews key figures from the case including store owners, investigators and even one of Sowell’s rape victims who barely escaped with her life. These stories are powerful reminders that even though justice was served when Sowell was convicted and sentenced to death row, there were too many missed opportunities along the way which might have saved numerous lives if taken more seriously.
The Cleveland Strangler offers more than just a gripping true crime narrative; it provides an important social commentary on just how easily those living on society’s fringes can be ignored and exploited. This is an essential watch for anyone interested in criminal justice or wanting to learn more about this tragedy in Cleveland’s history.