Mom of murdered Ohio college student pushes for violent criminal registry

Alianna DeFreeze's aunt hopes the registry could help other families. (Source: family)
Alianna DeFreeze's aunt hopes the registry could help other families. (Source: family)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The mother of an Ohio college student who was abducted and later found dead is pushing for a statewide violent criminal registry.

The idea is in its beginning stages, but it has support from a few lawmakers as well as the Attorney General.

University of Toledo student Sierah Joughlin was kidnapped and murdered last summer.

Police arrested a neighbor for the crime, and it turns out he was convicted of abducting another woman back in 1990.

Sierah's mom Sheila wants to create a public violent offender registry to help other families.

"People who commit violent offenses should have to register. I should've known that a violent offender was five miles from our house," she said.

Here in Northeast Ohio, it's been nearly two months since 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze was kidnapped after getting off of a bus.

She was later found brutally murdered on the East side of Cleveland.

Her aunt Ariel Bell struggled to put her emotions into words.

"We're missing such a big part of our lives," she said crying.

"Hugging her, kissing her, having her hug us. She was just the light of our lives," Bell said.

Police arrested Christopher Whitaker, a registered sex offender, for the crime.

Court records show he pleaded guilty to attacking another woman and stabbing her with scissors over 10 years ago.

"I think what happened just shows all of the holes in the criminal justice center," Bell said.

She likes the idea of statewide violent offender registry. But she wonders how well it would be enforced.

"Someone's going to have to make sure that boots are on the ground, that's how I refer to it. People are literally going to have to get into the trenches, get their hands dirty, and make sure these individuals, where ever they're supposed to be-- that's where they're supposed to be," she said.

Bell, a mother of two, hopes something like this could calm her biggest fears.

"When a tragedy like this happens so close to your home, it could happen again," she said.

"As a mother you really try to make your kids aware, without passing on fears," Bell said.

More than 15,000 people have signed a petition on to create the registry called Sierah's Law.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association support the idea.

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