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Friends and family gather Saturday to remember Alianna DeFreeze 2 years after her tragic death

Posted at 10:06 AM, Jan 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-26 15:20:24-05

CLEVELAND — On the second anniversary of Alianna DeFreeze's death, her family and friends gathered at Lakeview Cemetery to remember and celebrate the light and joy the girl brought to everyone who knew her.

On Jan. 26, 2017, Alianna disappeared after she got off an RTA bus she took to school every day. It was later learned that she had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered.

Her disappearance ignited a citywide search and city officials held a news conference to announce a reward for any information regarding her whereabouts. Just hours after the news conference, authorities confirmed the worst.

A Cleveland police officer who had been searching through abandoned homes near the 9400 block of Fuller Avenue came across a body that matched Alianna's description.

Authorities arrested, convicted and sentenced Alianna's killer to death for her murder.

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill before he left office that requires schools to alert parents if a student fails to show up within two hours. It takes precautionary measures to ensure children are safe when they are absent from school. The bill goes into effect in April.

Alianna's family has started a nonprofit foundation in her name, with the hope that no other family ever has to feel their pain. The Alianna DeFreeze Let's Make a Change Foundation aims to address the issue of abandoned homes and safe routes to school.