Pennsylvania police arrested an Ohio man and accused him of kidnapping his girlfriend’s 13-month-old daughter before raping and murdering her, as reported by NY Daily News.
Joshua Gurto, 37, managed to evade police capture for three weeks, finally being apprehended in the Pittsburgh area at 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
13-month-old Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley died on October 7 in Conneaut, Ohio. Authorities noted that she suffered blunt-force injuries to her head and body, and was “badly beaten.” She was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
— Outlaw Radio (@OutlawRadioABS) October 26, 2017
Reports have indicated that she was the daughter of Gurto’s girlfriend, Kelsie Blankenship, and that all three were living together at the time of the alleged rape and murder.
“I’ve been bawling my eyes out all day,” Kelsie Blankenship told reporters from WKNC.
“She was a precious girl. She brought me a reason to live.”
Gurto did not flee until after being interviewed by Ohio investigators, but was ultimately released.
“He was here. He was very cooperative through the whole initial process. We opted to release him. There were no charges to keep him at the time,” said Conneaut Police Detective Mike Sullivan.
Police officers also expressed grief at the horrific series of crimes.
“I feel very bad for Sereniti’s family. Nobody should have to lose a child to violence,” Pete Elliott, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio, told Time.
Investigators said that a camouflage-clad Gurto was carrying a knife in backpack when he was captured, along with maps of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Ohio police were on special alert after surveillance cameras spotted the 37-year-old at an ATM at a gas station in the state on Wednesday, as reported by CBS Pittsburgh.
Upon being captured, the rape and murder suspect did not resist, according to police. Reports have indicated that he held his hands in the air and said, “I am done running.”
Authorities transported Gurto to the Allegheny County Jail. He’ll remain there as he awaits extradition to Ohio. Earlier this month, the U.S. Marshal’s Service announced a $5,000 reward for anyone with information that led to his arrest.
“We made Gurto’s world very, very small. He really had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” Elliott said.
In lieu of a donation to the family, Blankenship is asking people to donate to a charity in Ashtabula County called HALO, or Holiday Angels Loving Others.
“We’re going to donate it all to them because all those kids don’t get many toys and I’m going to donate all of her toys to the HALO program too. I did it because Serreniti’s first Christmas was from HALO,” she said.
[Featured Image: Conneaut Police Department/U.S. Marshal Northern District of Ohio]