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Ohio BCI Cold Case unit links man accused of child’s murder to 2004 unsolved rape

Posted at 9:06 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 09:27:24-05

CONNEAUT, Ohio — Joshua Gurto, 41, who is charged with the murder of a 13-month-old in 2017, now faces felony charges related to a 2004 unsolved rape after evidence reviewed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations Cold Case Unit connected him to the case. It is the first indictment connected to the unit since it was launched in September.

Gurto was indicted by an Ashtabula County Grand Jury for the 2004 sexual assault Wednesday. The Conneaut man was charged with one count of rape, one count of felonious assault, and two counts of aggravated burglary. He has yet to be arraigned in the case.

The charges stemmed from evidence Conneaut Police Department resubmitted from the unsolved sexual assault to the BCI Cold Case Unit for testing, according to Ohio Attorney General spokesman Steve Irwin. He said the evidence was tested following the incident, but a DNA profile was inconclusive at that time.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost launched the Cold Case Unit in September so new technology and investigative techniques could be applied to unsolved cases.

“This indictment is exactly why we created the Cold Case Unit – the application of today’s crime-fighting technology on old cases can lead to long-due justice,” Yost said.

"Science keeps marching on and so a case that 10 or 15 years ago might have been unsolvable, suddenly, today, in the light of new science, becomes solvable," Yost said. "We can open up a new clue that leads to new avenues of investigation and sometimes to get the bad guy. “

Irwin said the Cold Case Unit is currently reviewing evidence from approximately 150 unsolved cases involving homicides, sexual assaults, missing person cases, and unidentified remains.

RELATED: Murder and rape charges filed in connection with death of 1-year-old in Conneaut

Gurto also currently faces charges for the rape and murder of 13-month-old Sereniti Sutley in Oct. 2017. Gurto is charged with aggravated murder, murder, rape, felonious assault, and domestic violence.

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