The Conneaut Law Directors office has filed charges and obtained an arrest warrant for Joshua Dale Gurto for the murder and rape of one-year-old Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley which occurred in the City of Conneaut on October 7, 2017.
Mr. Gurto has not been found and is believed to have fled.
"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. 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," stated the Conneaut Law Director's Office.
"From the beginning, special agents and forensic experts from BCI have assisted the Conneaut PD investigators. BCI has placed this case as a priority. We are very grateful for their expertise and their efforts. Conneaut Police investigators have also made this case a priority, working for the last 6 days without time off, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence. They, too, deserve the respect and admiration of the community for their efforts and tenacity."
This case is far from over and it continues to be an ongoing investigation.
CONNEAUT — Charges of murder and rape have been filed against a Conneaut man in connection with last weekend’s death of a 1-year-old girl at a Conneaut apartment complex.
Conneaut Law Director Kyle Smith said his office filed the charges and obtained an arrest warrant for Joshua Dale Gurto, 37, for the murder and rape of Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley, which occurred Oct. 7.
Gurto has not been found and is believed to have fled, Smith said in a statement.
Police and ambulance personnel were dispatched to an apartment complex at 530 Clark St., at 5:16 a.m. Oct. 7 for an unresponsive child, police have said.
The baby was taken to UH Conneaut Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The child died from blunt trauma to her head and trunk, according to the Ashtabula County coroner’s office.
Earlier this week police said they had interviewed the child’s 22-year-old mother and the woman’s 37-year-old boyfriend. Gurto is the boyfriend and not the father of the child.
Police are seeking information on Gurto’s whereabouts. Anyone with information is asked to contact Conneaut police (593-7440) or a law enforcement agency. Anonymous tips may be called into the CPD at 593-7423.
Gurto has appeared in Conneaut Municipal Court almost 20 times over the years, according to a court spokesperson. Some cases — including sexual imposition, assault, disorderly conduct and criminal damaging — occurred more than 10 years ago. The most recent offense, unauthorized use of property, occurred in 2016, according to the spokesperson.In 2010, Gurto was bound over to the Ashtabula County grand jury on a domestic violence charge, but the grand jury did not indict, according to court records.
The case is the second murder/rape investigation involving a child in Conneaut in less than four years. In February 2014, 4-year-old Melanie “Lanie” Powell died during a sexual assault committed by Joshua Million, who was 25 years old at the time. The child was the daughter of Million’s girlfriend.
A plea agreement spared Million the death penalty but he is spending the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.