Prosecutors will seek death penalty in murder of Alianna Defreeze


Christopher Whitaker

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CLEVELAND–More charges were filed against the man accused of killing 14-year-old Alianna Defreeze.

Christopher Whitaker, 44, was originally charged with aggravated murder. Now, he faces an indictment for rape, kidnapping, offenses against a human corpse, burglary and tampering with evidence.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office told FOX 8 News it will seek the death penalty in this case.

“This defendant snatched a 14-year-old child off the street and brutally murdered her,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley. “The facts of this case together with his violent criminal history compels this Office to seek the death penalty.”

Defreeze was last seen on Jan. 26 getting off of an RTA bus at East 93rd Street and Kinsman Avenue. Her mother reported her missing when she learned Alianna was not at school. Three days later, officers found her body in an abandoned house on Fuller Avenue.

On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at Imani Temple Ministries in Cleveland Heights for her funeral.

Whitaker became a suspect through DNA evidence. U.S. Marshals arrested him without incident in Maple Heights. When he appeared in court on Feb. 4, Whitaker’s bond was set at $3 million.

Authorities said he has an extensive criminal record, including charges of sexual battery and felonious assault. He is a registered sex offender in Cuyahoga County.

Whitaker will be arraigned on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

More stories on Alianna Defreeze here

Story updated at 5:26 p.m. with statement from prosecutor’s office.

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