CLEVELAND -- A registered sex offender who could face the death penalty for the slaying of a 14-year-old Cleveland girl has pleaded not guilty.
A judge on Thursday refused to set bond for 44-year-old Christopher Whitaker, of South Euclid. He faces charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and abuse of a corpse in the death of Alianna DeFreeze. The girl’s body was found in an abandoned home in Cleveland on Jan. 29, three days after her mother reported her missing when she didn’t arrive at school.
Whitaker was arrested Feb. 2. Authorities have said his DNA was matched to evidence from the slaying.
DeFreeze was last seen on Thursday, Jan. 26 around 6:30 a.m. boarding a RTA bus to go to school. DeFreeze’s mother contacted police after being notified by the school that her daughter was not in attendance that day around 4:15 p.m., reports CBS affiliate WOIO.
On Sunday, Jan. 29, officers were conducting sweeps in an effort to locate DeFreeze when they found her body. DeFreeze died of blunt force trauma and stab wounds.
Whitaker’s attorney didn’t return messages seeking comment.