CLEVELAND-- The FOX 8 I-Team is uncovering the story behind the murder of 14-year-old Alianna Defreeze and the arrest of a convicted sex offender already under watch by the justice system.
Saturday morning, Christopher Whitaker will face a judge on a charge of aggravated murder.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed what the I-Team reported just after the arrest: DNA from the crime scene led detectives to Whitaker.
Investigators do not believe Whitaker knew the young girl. They believe she was kidnapped near East 93rd and Kinsman on her way to school.
Whitaker, a convicted sex offender, has registered with Cuyahoga County sheriff’s deputies the same address in South Euclid for years. However, sheriff’s deputies had not gone out to the address to “verify” it or check up on it since early 2015.
Whitaker became a sex offender after Bedford Hts. Police say he choked, stabbed, and sexually assaulted a woman in 2005. He struck a plea deal for sexual battery and felony assault and a four-year sentence.
Whitaker has an address in South Euclid, but the FOX 8 I-Team has learned he certainly knew the neighborhood where police say he killed the young girl. Court records show he used to live steps away from the crime scene at an apartment.
Alianna’s Aunt, Ariel Bell said, “We don't have any knowledge of who he is. I figure that he must have been comfortable enough to figure that if I put her here, no one would ever find her.”
Where the suspect once lived, the building is rundown, and we saw a demolition crew working. We also saw a poster on the door from when Alianna was still missing.
The I-Team also found court records showing Christopher Whitaker has asked judges for mercy. After messing up on probation, he wrote “I made a mistake.” And when we tried to get out of prison early, he wrote, “I am deeply sorry…. Everyday and night I reflect on the hurt I caused…”
But where was the mercy for Alianna?
Ariel Bell said through tears, “Alianna was one of the sweetest, bubbly, smiling, loving, kind individuals I have ever known."
The crime happened in an area with some unsolved murders of women. Cuyahoga County prosecutors plan to retest some old evidence from those cases against the DNA of the suspect in this case.
A woman at the address for Whitaker wouldn’t answer questions or identify herself. Records show Whitaker lives there with an aunt.