CONNEAUT, OH (WOIO) - After nearly a month on the run, police in Pennsylvania captured Joshua Gurto overnight, the man accused of raping and murdering a 13-month-old Ohio girl.
Gurto, 37, was apprehended early Friday morning by Franklin Park Borough police after residents in the area reported seeing him in the neighborhood recently.
According to Pete Elliot from the U.S. Marshals, the arresting officer spotted Gurto sitting in a Sheetz gas station parking lot at approximately 1:30 a.m. The officer immediately recognized Gurto and approached him.
When the officer asked if he was Joshua Gurto, he confirmed his identity and was taken into custody.
"I give credit to that young police officer in Pennsylvania that spotted him and approached him," said Elliot.
Gurto was wearing a camouflage jacket and had a backpack with Pennsylvania and New Jersey maps, a knife and a tent in his possession.
Investigators believe that Gurto has spent the past 20 days hitchhiking and camping in the woods. A surveillance photo of Gurto and another man surfaced on Wednesday, leading police to believe that Gurto had an accomplice, but Elliot said the man in the photograph picked Gurto up as a hitchhiker.
"Nobody was willingly helping him. All that individual knew was that he picked up a guy named Joshua," said Gurto.
A warrant was out for Gurto's arrest in connection with the rape and death of Sereniti Jazzlyn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley.
Conneaut police were called to a home on Clark Street earlier this month and found Sereniti in cardiac arrest. The child was rushed to University Hospital for treatment, but she died several hours later. The coroner said she died of blunt force trauma to her head.
On Wednesday, Gurto was spotted on surveillance camera at a Sheetz store in Pittsburgh. That is when police and U.S. Marshal's shifted their search onto eastern Pennsylvania.
Gurto was taken to an Allegheny County jail and is expected to be extradited back to Ohio within the next three to five days for the court procedure.