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Fugitive arrested in Franklin Park indicted for toddler's rape, murder

Megan Guza
| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 2:03 p.m.
Allegheny County

An Ohio man who hid in Western Pennsylvania woods for weeks to avoid arrest for the alleged rape and murder of his girlfriend's 13-month-old daughter last month has been indicted in his home state.

Authorities transported Joshua Gurto, 37, back to Ohio's Ashtabula County on Thursday morning, about a week and a half after he was arrested in Franklin Park . He'd been on the run for three weeks before that, sparking a massive manhunt.

Ashtabula County Prosecuting Attorney Nicholas Iarocci said in a news release that a grand jury Tuesday indicted Gurto on eight charges: three counts of murder, two counts of aggravated murder and one count each of rape, felonious assault and domestic violence.

Iarocci said he will seek the death penalty.

Gurto is accused raping and murdering Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley on Oct. 7 in Conneaut, Ohio, a small town in the northeastern corner of the state.

About a week after the toddler's violent death, Gurto was spotted at a gas station about 15 miles away in Girard, Pa. Surveillance footage showed him riding in a pickup. Police tracked down the truck's owner, who said he picked up a hitchhiking Gurto and drove him about 100 miles to Zelienople.

He was spotted again at a Sheetz in Ohio Township. He was arrested Oct. 27 when a Franklin Park patrolman came upon him carrying a backpack while walking along the borough's Nicholson Road.

A date for Gurto's arraignment has not been set.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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