Cleveland teen's body found in vacant home, points to safety issues caused by abandoned properties

Posted at 12:46 AM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 14:58:13-05

Some Cleveland residents believe the discovery of the body of 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze, is a tragic reminder of the potential danger caused by abandoned, unsecured homes.

Police found the teen's body inside a vacant home on Fuller Avenue on Jan. 29. She was reported missing three days earlier after her family discovered she never arrived at school. 

Jamal Hamm grew up in a home next to the house where the teen's body was discovered.

Hamm believes the of the owner of the vacant home is in some way responsible for the teen's tragic murder.

"I think so. I think they play a big role in it. First, you should put in the fact that you have the money remodel the house before you buy it."

Cuyahoga County tax records indicated the owner of the house hasn't paid taxes on the house since he took ownership through a quitclaim deed in 2014.

Cleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli told News 5 tougher standards are needed on the buyers of these distressed properties, to ensure the homes to don't just sit there as havens for crime.

"This property was foreclosed on by Deutsche Bank, ended up going to a property owner, then got quitclaimed to another owner," explained Brancatelli. "This owner hasn't taken responsibility for any of the years that they've owned it."

Brancatelli pointed to multiple cases over the past five years where murder victims were found inside vacant Cleveland homes. 

Branactelli believes tougher legislation and accountability is needed.

"We need to have people that are responsible and have to file appropriately, so we get more information besides just name, rank and serial number," said Brancatelli.

"We need some financial assurances that these people are going to do the right thing."