Suspect sought in murder, rape of 13-month-old Conneaut girl

CONNEAUT, Ohio-- Authorities are searching for the man charged in the murder of a 13-month-old Conneaut girl.

Joshua Dale Gurto

The Conneaut Law Director's Office filed charges and obtained an arrest warrant for Joshua Dale Gurto in the murder and rape of Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley .

Officers were called to the mother's apartment on Clark Street near Chestnut Street in Conneaut Saturday morning. The baby suffered blunt force trauma to the head and trunk, the Ashtabula County Coroner's Office said.

Gurto has not been found and is believed to have fled.

Investigators said Gurto is the boyfriend of the baby's mother.

"This is a horrible, despicable and devastating crime, affecting everyone who has come into contact with it, including EMT personnel, Conneaut police officers, and UH doctors, nurses and other medical personnel," said law director Kyle Smith.

"We are very lucky to have these professionals in our community and we are proud of them and very grateful for what they do. They represent the best and the predominant values in this community. "

Smith said special agents and forensic experts from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation assisted Conneaut investigators.

"This case is far from over and it continues to be an ongoing investigation," Smith said.

Anyone with information on Gurto's whereabouts is asked to call the Conneaut Police Department at 440-593-7440. The tip line accepts anonymous calls at 440-593-7423.

The family wants to thank the community, police-- especially the chief and detective-- and all hospital and emergency workers who helped them during this difficult time.

They are hoping the suspect is found soon.

The family suggests memorial donations or donation of toys be made in the victim's name to the Conneaut Human Resource Center Halo program 327 Mill Street Conneaut, Ohio 44030.

Everything donated will go to local children for Christmas in Serenity's name and donations can be brought to the funeral home or to the Conneaut Human Resource Center.

Funeral home is Thompson Smith Nesbitt Funeral Home 345 Main Street Conneaut, Ohio.

Continuing coverage on this story here