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Community members keep watch at the bus stop of Alianna DeFreeze

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 18:28:41-05

A group of community members kept watch Thursday afternoon at the intersection of E.93rd and Kinsman, the last place 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze was seen before her body was found Sunday. 

Investigators said DeFreeze’s body was found in an abandoned house on Fuller Ave. 

She was last seen on surveillance video from Jan. 26 around 7 a.m. getting off an RTA bus at the stop on her way to school. 

“We’re sorry that this happened on our watch. We don’t want this to happen again,” said community member Dylan Sellers. 

Sellers, who is also a commissioner on the Cleveland Community Police Commission, told News 5 that the group is watching over the kids as they get on and off the buses at that intersection. They’re not approaching them. 

“We want to keep them safe at all costs,” said Sellers, who explained that most of the watchers don’t even have children who use he bus stop. 

Group members said this death, which started as a missing person case, is making many people take cases like these seriously and not just brush them off as “runaways.” 

Karen McHenry, Director for the Homeless and Missing Youth Program at Bellefaire JCB, said they receive countless calls on their hotline for missing children. And each case should be handled just as urgently as the next. 

“We want to break that stigma, right?” McHenry said. “Because anytime someone’s not where they’re supposed to be or if they’re not home after school we want them to pay attention and take note and follow up.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are nearly a dozen long-standee cases of missing teen girls in the city of Cleveland over the last decade. New reports come in all the time. 

Bellefaire JCB has a 24/7 Homeless and Missing Youth Hotline at 216-570-8010. 

“Everyday we’re looking at those faces and we’re making sure that there’s a picture and that somebody is being responsive and let people know that they are missing.” McHenry said. 

Meanwhile Sellers said he plans to keep watch at the Alianna’s bus stop for as long as he needs to. 

“I’ll be out here everyday until the end of the school year,” he said. “Until they find some way to keep those babies safe.”