gurto manhunt
Joshua Dale Gurto is charged with aggravated murder and rape of Sereniti Jazzlynn-Sky Blankenship-Sutley Facebook / Police handout

Police in Ohio announced early on Friday (27 October) that a man wanted for the rape and murder of a 13-month-old girl had been captured in Pennsylvania after several weeks on the run.

In a press briefing, broadcast online by ABC's Cleveland affliate, Conneaut chief of police, Michael Colby said that Joshua Gurto was apprehended by a Franklin Park Borough Police Department officer who spotted him wearing a camoflague jacket and backpack around 1:30am on Friday.

Gurto confirmed his identity and was taken to Allegheny County Jail "without incident", Colby said.

US Marshalls said that Gurto was found with maps of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a knife and a tent. Authorities said that they were led to the area by a man in a grey Ford pick-up truck who had picked up the hitchhiking Gurto and was later identified by police.

"We believe he's been in the woods the entire time," US Marshalls told reporters. Authorities said Gurto would be brought to Ohio in the next three to five days.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force had previously offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to Gurto's arrest. He had previously been questioned by police over the toddler's death but was not detained at the time, but as soon as authorities had enough information to arrest him he had disappeared.

Thirteen-month-old Sereniti Blankenship-Sutley died on 7 October after paramedics arrived to find her unresponsive. She was said to be the daughter of Gurto's girlfriend. A detective told local media during the manhunt: "I would consider him dangerous, with charges of aggravated murder and rape, yes, I would consider him dangerous."

An obituary for the toddler said that she was "a lovable little girl who brought a smile to your face", and "loved Scooby Doo, playing video games with her mom, and sleeping with her favourite monkey her grandma made for her".