A manhunt is underway for Jashua Dale Gurto, who is charged in the rape and murder of a 13-month-old baby girl, Sereniti Sutley, of Conneaut, Ohio. Sereniti was found unresponsive at an apartment on Clark Street just after 5 a.m. on the morning of October 7.
“The Conneaut Law Director’s Office filed charged and obtained an arrest warrant for Gurto,” Fox 8 reported on October 16.
Investigators said Gurto is the boyfriend of the baby’s mother, 22-year-old Kelsie Blankenship.
Authorities believe Gurto has fled and an award has been offered for information leading to his capture.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sutley Died of Blunt Force Trauma to the Head Trunk
According to Erie News Now, Blankenship found her daughter unresponsive “during the early morning hours of October 7.”
Sutley was then taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that the baby’s death was attributed to blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.
The baby was taken to the hospital, where she died. An autopsy determined Sutley suffered blunt force trauma to the head and trunk.
Though the details of their relationship are not known at this time, it was reported that Sutley’s mother was dating the suspected baby killer.
News5Cleveland reported that when police arrived at the scene of the crime, Blankenship was holding the child and screaming, “help my baby.”
2. He Was Initially Interviewed by Police & Is Subsequently Believed to Have Fled
Gurto was questioned by police on the day of Sutley’s death and has not been seen since, WKYC reported.
“This is a horrible, despicable and devastating crime, affecting everyone who has come into contact with it, including EMT personnel, Conneaut police officers, and UH doctors, nurses and other medical personnel,” said law director Kyle Smith, according to Fox 8.
“We are very lucky to have these professionals in our community and we are proud of them and very grateful for what they do. They represent the best and the predominant values in this community,” he continued.
3. Police Have Received Hundreds of Tips & There’s a Reward for His Capture
Gurto has connections in Ohio and Pennsylvania and they’re sifting through leads from across the country, authorities said.
Conneaut Police Detective Michael Sullivan told Erie News Now that “investigators are getting upwards of 500 tips on the location” of Gurto. The station added that many of the leads are not valid, and reported that “the latest sighting was at a Girard, Pennsylvania Giant Eagle Friday.”
The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to Gurto’s arrest, according to WFMJ.
Anyone with information as to Gurto’s whereabouts is asked to call the Conneaut Police Department at 440-593-7440. You may choose to call anonymously at 440-593-7423. You may
also contact the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4WANTED or text keyword “WANTED” and tip to 84711.
4. This Isn’t Gurto’s First Run-In With the Law
This is not Gurto’s first run-in with police, and court records in Ohio reveal that he was facing charges dating back to 1999, when he was charged with receiving stolen property, a felony.
The Ashtabula County Ohio Courts System also shows that Gurto was charged with 4th degree domestic violence in 2010.
It is not known if the suspected killer has a record in any other states.
5. Sereniti’s Mother Issued a Statement
Toni Loveland, a family friend of Blankenship, told Heavy that that the woman issued the following statement regarding the death of her baby girl:
This is Kelsie, please believe me that my daughter will live on, in mine and Brandon Sutley’s family’s memories. I would love to thank EMT’s and the officers that have been here to help, and know that if you speak bull**** that you know nothing, only the surrounding families that have been by our sides know the truth. None of you nosey people will get any recognition that are gonna make you important…so if you wanna say hateful things go on ahead cuz only one judging is the person upstairs…thank you for those who are here for the support.
The family has requested memorial donations or donation of toys be made in the victim’s name to the Conneaut Human Resource Center Halo program 327 Mill Street Conneaut, Ohio 44030.