CLEVELAND - The horrific rape and murder of a Cleveland teenager on her way to school is creating change at the state capitol in Columbus. The Alianna Alert is one step closer to becoming law.
Senate Bill 82, also known as Alianna's Alert, passed unanimously in the Ohio Senate Wednesday afternoon. The first step to becoming law, it was sponsored by State Senator Sandra Williams from Cleveland.
"Alianna's Alert would require schools to call parents within 120 minutes of the start of the school day, if their child has been marked absent," said Williams.
"It passed 33 to zero, which means everybody is on board, everybody's concerned and feel that this is something that needs to be done, something that should have been addressed a long time ago," said Alianna’s father, Damon DeFreeze.
The bill was inspired by the murder of Damon Defreeze's 14-year-old daughter, Alianna Defreeze. In January of 2017, Alianna was abducted, raped and brutally murdered on her way to school. Her body was found inside a vacant house three days later.
Her parents never found out she was absent until nine hours later at the end of the school day.
"I really hope that it helps out so many parents and give a lot of parents a peace of mind to know that they will get some type of notification within a reasonable amount of time," said her mother Donnesha Cooper.
"Some child will be saved because of this, there's no doubt in my mind," said DeFreeze.
Alianna's parents applaud the law, but they still believe two hours is too long to wait for a parent to be notified.
"In two hours you can be in Columbus, you can be anywhere," said DeFreeze.
"Two hours is still too long, but two hours is something that I would've taken had I been given the opportunity," said Cooper.
Alianna's parents say they find comfort that their loss may help others.
In fact, her father says she actually spoke to him through his wife.
"My wife turns over in Alianna's voice, she said 'why aren't you talking to me' she said 'I'm so proud of what you guys are going," said DeFreeze.
Last month, Christopher Whitaker was convicted of killing Alianna and sentenced to death.
House Bill 82 now moves to the Ohio House of Representatives, where State Senator Williams expects it to pass. There is currently no timetable on when that will happen.