Parents of Alianna DeFreeze demand more be done about vacant, hazardous homes

DeFreeze parents want CLE to step-up enforcement
Posted at 11:36 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 15:41:52-05

Wytonya and Damon DeFreeze were filled with emotion, as they stood in front of the vacant Fuller Avenue home, where the the body of their 14-year-old daughter Alianna was found more than two weeks ago.

The couple believes the City of Cleveland needs to do more to keep track of vacant, condemned, potentially hazardous homes.

The body of the Cleveland teen was found just a few days after she was reported missing late last month.

Christopher Whitaker is accused of kidnapping and killing Alianna DeFreeze January 26 and taking her to a home, located at 9412 Fuller Avenue.

The DeFreeze family told News 5 exclusively it believes Cleveland's Department of Building and Housing could have kept closer tabs on the homeowner, forcing him to keep the vacant home more secure.

A homeowner Cuyahoga County records indicate owes some $3,000 in back taxes and is running a property which is filled with code violations.

"I'm angry, I'm hurt, because it should have never happened," said Wytonya DeFeeze.

"Starting with this house, I want it torn down because I don't want another family to have to go through what we went through."

Damon DeFreeze told News 5 his family is in the process of launching the Alianna Let's Make a Change Foundation, a crusade he said will be dedicated to educating and changing how the City of Cleveland deals with thousands of vacant, potentially hazardous homes.

"This issue has to be addressed, and there has to be some changes made," said DeFreeze.

"People are being handcuffed, and these properties are sitting here, and these are nests to sexual predators and other illegal activity."

DeFreeze said he will also be urging the city to more quickly take down vacant, condemned homes that have little chance of being salvaged.

"Yes we're going to fight," said DeFreeze.

"We aren't ever going to give up.  This is a life long journey now, and we're going to make it happen."