Police make arrest in 1991 cold case murder of woman in Akron

Police make arrest in 1991 cold case murder of woman in Akron
A man has been arrested for the 1991 cold case murder of Rachel Johnson. (Source: Akron PD, Ohio Attorney General's Office)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Nearly 30 years after the brutal killing of a young mother in Akron, her suspected killer has finally been caught.

Police make arrest in 1991 cold case murder of woman in Akron

The Akron Police Department announced the arrest of Daniel Lee Rees, 57, on Thursday.

Rees was taken into custody last night after being charged with aggravated murder for the March 1991 killing of Rachel Johnson.

Police say the 23-year-old single mother suffered blunt force trauma and had been sexually assaulted, stabbed multiple times, and set on fire after being dumped in the street.

On March 30, 1991, Johnson had been in a friend’s vehicle when they got a flat tire and pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store at the corner of Dan Street and Glenwood Avenue.

A small, faded gray vehicle pulled into the lot behind them and Rachael either got into the vehicle or was forced inside by the driver, authorities say.

Her body was discovered later that day on Weller Avenue, a mostly industrial road off of Home Avenue.

In 2013, investigators told 19 News they had DNA evidence and had tested dozens of possible suspects but hadn’t found a match.

While we still do not know the details of how investigators linked Rees to the killing, police say a Texas company called AdvanceDNA assisted with the investigation.

AdvanceDNA specializes in forensic genealogy research, according to the company’s website.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation also worked with the Akron Police Department and AdvanceDNA on the case.

Johnson’s daughter was only three-years-old when she was killed.

“The person who killed Rachael robbed her daughter of her mother," said Johnson’s step-mother, June Johnson, said in 2013. “We tried to fill in, but you can’t fill that kind of void.”

“It hasn’t been easy, and no matter what you do there is always that emptiness," she said.

Rees, who would have been 28-years-old at the time of the murder, is currently in the Summit County Jail.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning.

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