US police cordon
File photo of US police cordon (Reuters)

Police in the American city of Cleveland have arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of murder, after the bodies of three women were found. The victims were discovered over the weekend in a suburb, wrapped in plastic bags.

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton has confirmed that a search for any further bodies will continue through Sunday. The three bodies were found within 200 yards of one another.

Norton also revealed the victims were all black. The unidentified male in custody has not yet been formally charged, but is believed to be a registered sex offender who has served prison time.

Authorities say the suspect may have been influenced by convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell. In 2011, Sowell, whom the media dubbed "The Cleveland Strangler", was sentenced to death for the murder of 11 women. He hid their remains at his home in Cleveland.

The 53-year-old Sowell is on death row in Ohio, pending an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

"He said some things that led us to believe that in some way, shape, or form, Sowell might be an influence," Norton explained, adding, "I don't know if there are any more bodies out there. It is all tying back to the same guy."

Meanwhile, police commander Mike Cardilli told local papers the first body was found on Friday, in a parking garage. The second and third were discovered on Saturday, in a vacant lot and in the basement of an empty house respectively.

The victims have yet to be identified, but all three were found in foetal positions with several layers of plastic bags covering them. Initial medical reports say all three were killed within the last 10 days.

Police say they are using sniffer dogs to search vacant houses in the area. There are approximately 17,000 residents in this particular suburb and a number of residences are vacant.

It is believed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department have been called in to assist local police.