Families of young abduction victims speak after man pleads guilty in Cleveland, Elyria cases

Posted at 11:21 AM, Sep 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-14 16:46:27-04

The suspect in two Northeast Ohio abduction cases admitted Thursday to his crimes in exchange for a plea deal. 

Justin Christian pleaded guilty to multiple counts including kidnapping, rape and aggravated burglary. He was sentenced to a total of 35 years without the possibility of parole. 

Christian was arrested last December in connection with the abduction of a young girl who was taken from her home in Cleveland as she slept.

According to Prosecutor Michael O' Malley, investigators used familial DNA to link Christian to the abduction. This was the first time the State of Ohio has used the DNA of a family member to help identify an unknown suspect.

RELATED: What is familial DNA and how did it help officers catch the alleged Cleveland, Elyria abductor?

He was charged with kidnapping and rape for abducting the 6-year-old girl from her West 104th Street home on May 21.

The FBI also linked Christian to the attempted abduction of a 10-year-old Elyria girl in February.

Before Christian was sentenced, the girl's mother addressed him and the court.

"May 21. That day will never just be normal again," she said. "It's a reminder there are monsters in the world, and no one is safe from them. Not even in your own home."

The girl's mother was working at the time of the kidnapping when she received the call at work.  The moment seemed unreal.

"Never would I have imagined someone would break into my house and take her, that only happens in the movies. Later we would find out that was my family's reality," she said.

Christian took the girl back to his house on West 22nd Street in Lorain where she was held hostage in a bedroom for 17 hours and sexually assaulted before he placed her in a duffel bag and dropped her off in a neighborhood near her home. 

The child's mother said she reluctantly agreed to accept Christian's plea deal, having hoped he would spend the rest of his life in prison. 

"Yes, I have agreed to a plea deal, not to help you out, but so three of my daughters don't have to come look into the devil's eyes when they have to testify."

Instead, he will spend the next 35 years in prison.

"This will not destroy our family but make us stronger," she said. "Now that you're going to be locked away for some time, not only can my family be more at east but all the little girls can sleep a little easier knowing you won't be back on the streets for a long time."