CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found a push to help wipe away some of the pain from the murder of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze as she walked to school.
We’ve uncovered a drive to rename the Cleveland street where the crime took place.
Alianna’s mother can never erase the pictures of the crime scene, but she’s hoping Fuller Avenue can become something like Alianna’s Way.
Police say a sex offender kidnapped Alianna on her way to school, killed her, and left her in a vacant house.
Donnesha Cooper, Alianna’s mother, said, "It’s just really hard to drive past. To change the name would bring a little sense of hope and positivity.”
A good friend of the family came up with the idea of changing the street after noticing Alianna’s mom even got upset at church looking out at Fuller Avenue. Alianna died young, but she had already gained a reputation for having a big heart helping others.
Samera Hollimon said, "Everybody remembers what this animal did to her. Let's give our community some hope. Let's have a celebration of Alianna."
The suspected killer, Christopher Whitaker, is set for trial early next year. Cuyahoga County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
In order to change the name of the street, a city council person would have to formally introduce the idea. And the full council would have to vote to approve it. So we reached out to the councilman for this neighborhood, Blaine Griffin.
He issued a statement saying, “We will always cherish the memory of Aliana DeFreeze. We understand and respect the family and community's commitment to honor her memory and celebrate her life. We will explore several options to memorialize Aliana and work with her family, as well as the residents living on and near Fuller Ave., to make sure she is never forgotten. “
Alianna’s father and stepmother have plans to create a park or garden in place of the empty home at the crime scene. Some lawmakers after this incident also want new laws making sure schools alert parents quickly if a child doesn’t show up for classes. Alianna’s mom sees changing the name of the street as one more way to make a difference.
Donnesha Cooper said, "It's definitely a struggle every day. I guess I'm trying to keep busy to keep doing something in Alianna's name."