CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Police say that finding the person responsible for the murder of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze is "the highest priority" for investigators.
DeFreeze was last seen on video surveillance Jan. 26 at 6:50 a.m. getting off an RTA bus at E. 93rd Street and Kinsman Avenue. Her mother called police at 4:15 p.m. after being notified by the school that her daughter was not in attendance that day.
Officers were canvassing Cleveland's east side Sunday, searching yards and abandoned homes, in connection with DeFreeze's missing persons case when they found a female's body inside an abandoned home at 9412 Fuller Avenue. Officers alerted the family to DeFreeze's death on Tuesday.
Sources say a man who left the bus behind Alianna is a person of interest, but police are not calling him a suspect yet.
Within 1/4 mile of the home where she was found, eight registered sex offenders live in six houses. Within one mile, there are 83 sex offenders living in 69 homes.
It is a situation that upsets city councilman Zack Reed, who believes the city is ill equipped to handle cases of multiple missing women found dead near or around 93rd and Fuller.
"What is the attraction of 93rd, other than the comfort level of someone that knows the neighborhood, that knows the vacant lots, that knows the vacant houses?" Reed asked Wednesday.
A memorial now sits on the front porch of the home where the 14-year-old was found. The home has been boarded up.
People who never knew her are drawn by the intensity of her story. Those who spoke with Cleveland 19 News on Thursday said they feel the need to do something. Reed says he understands the concern of the residents.
"When I go throughout the neighborhood, people continue to say to me, 'Councilman, you're right. We got a killer out there, we need to find that killer. We do not have the resources here in the city of Cleveland to solve this situation on our own,'" he said.
Anyone who was in the area of the Shell gas station on the corner of E. 93rd and Kinsman around 6:52 a.m. on Thursday is asked to call Cleveland police. Tips can be left anonymously, and there is a $22,500 reward for information leading to an arrest.