Take 5

Barberton Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Brutal 1991 Murder of Akron Woman

AKRON, Ohio — Daniel Rees, a Barberton man, is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison after he pleaded guilty to the brutal killing of a 23-year-old woman in Akron over three decades ago.

Rees, 60, received his sentence on Friday in Summit Common Pleas Court. Judge Susan Baker Ross ruled that he will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison, meaning he would be roughly 90 years old at that time.

The case against Rees dates back to March 30, 1991, when Rachael Johnson went out with a friend and departed from their vehicle following car trouble on Dan Street. According to investigators, Rees beat, stabbed, and sexually assaulted Johnson before ultimately killing her by setting her on fire. Johnson’s body was discovered several hours later, dumped blocks away on Weller Avenue.

The investigation into Johnson’s murder went cold, but it was reopened in March 2020 when Akron police arrested Rees. DNA genealogy connected him to the crime, and he was charged with aggravated murder. Rees’s guilty plea ensures that he will not face the death penalty.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh released a statement saying, “Over 30 years ago Rachael searched for help and found tragedy at the hands of Daniel Rees. Even though this happened decades ago, Rachael’s family and friends have had to live through it every day since 1991. I’m pleased to know our community is safer with Daniel Rees locked up for the rest of his life. I want to thank everyone involved in this case for tirelessly working to bring justice to Rachael and her family.”

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