Alianna DeFreezeCleveland Police 

Cleveland has a recent history of girls and women violently disappearing.

Anthony Sowell killed 11 women and stored or buried them in and around his Imperial Avenue home before his crimes were discovered in 2009. Ariel Castro kidnapped and sexually enslaved three young women for more than a decade before they courageously made their escape in 2013.

Now it appears that this town will be forced to relive a another form of the nightmare. Law enforcement officials confirmed Tuesday evening that a body found Sunday in an abandoned East Side house is that of Alianna DeFreeze, a missing 14-year-old girl. Many questions remain unanswered, including cause of death, but police had previously called the fatality a homicide.

Here’s what we do know.

Alianna DeFreeze, 14, boarded a Regional Transit Authority bus near her home early Friday morning, headed to the middle school she attends in the Union-Miles neighborhood. It’s usually a 20-minute ride down Kinsman Avenue, then a transfer to another bus to complete her trip to E-Prep.

The journey would take her past deteriorated neighborhoods, abandoned houses and the general despair of swaths of Cleveland that have long been left behind. At her transfer point, near East 93rd Street and Kinsman, there’s a McDonald’s — a familiar neighborhood anchor in the midst of a palpable malaise.

Footage from a security camera in the neighborhood shows her walking near the McDonald’s just before 7 a.m. Thursday. But she didn’t make her RTA transfer. She never made it to school. She didn’t go back home. Alianna went missing.

When the school told her family she was absent, a search for the missing teenager began in earnest. Friends and family members joined police in the search for a girl described as friendly and impressionable, and also said to suffer from a mental disability. 

“She’s never been in any kind of trouble. There’s no reason for her to run away from home so this is very, very unlike milf porno her — the fact that she’s been gone this long. It’s never, never happened before,” her aunt Ariel Bell told a television station during the search.

However, the discovery of the still then unidentified body terrified Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed. He said he feared that the discovery signaled a trend.

“This is the fifth body found near the 93rd Street corridor since 2012. Four of the bodies have been dumped in vacant lots or abandoned houses. Police tell me there’s no obvious connection between the murders, but I’m not so sure. How do we know that we don’t have another serial killer out here?” Reed told me Tuesday afternoon.

The councilman has reason to be extraordinarily sensitive when it comes to the topic of missing women. Sowell operated in Reed’s former ward with a shocking recklessness and sadistic arrogance until he was caught. Still, Cleveland somehow failed to detect a prolific serial killer until one of Sowell’s intended victims managed to escape and report the monster.

The same goes for the depravity of Castro, who drove a school bus and routinely played publicly in bands while holding his victims captive in a busy residential neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the fate of Alianna is every parent or guardian’s worst nightmare. We can only mourn and pray that justice and closure comes quickly.

Cleveland authorities now treat missing-person reports with more urgency than they used to. That’s the lesson learned from recent devastating losses, which now grow even more painful.

Now this town must meet the challenge of identifying and capturing one or more sadistic criminals who delight in turning abandoned houses into mausoleums. The cost of an outcome any less clear will continue to be borne by Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents.

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