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An Ohio Man Sexually Assaulted, Murdered and Lit a Woman on Fire. Now, He Admits He’s ‘a Monster’ as He Heads to Prison.

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Source: Akron Police Department; UNSPLASH

Jul. 31 2023, Published 12:05 p.m. ET

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An Ohio man linked to a decades-old cold case murder through DNA has pleaded guilty and is now heading to prison.

Daniel Rees, 60, of Barberton, was sentenced in Summit County to 30 years behind bars for the 1991 aggravated murder of Rachael Johnson, WTRF reported. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years, when he is 90.

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The defendant took a plea deal in the case that allowed a rape offense to be changed to kidnapping, sparing him the possibility of receiving a death sentence.

“I am a monster,” Rees told the court during his July 28 sentencing hearing. “What I did is horrendous. The crime I did is horrendous.”

According to WTRF, Rees attacked Johnson on March 30, 1991, in Akron. Police said the victim suffered blunt force trauma and was sexually assaulted, stabbed and then lit on fire.

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Police identified Rees, who had no prior criminal history, as a suspect in the case in March 2020 after investigators were able to use DNA from a relative to zero in on him. He reportedly was never on detectives' radar after Johnson’s murder.

WTRF reported Rees once worked at a printing company with Johnson’s sister and he was friends with the victim’s daughter.

“This is a life sentence,” defense attorney Joe Gorman said of his client pleading guilty in the case. “He understood that walking in here.”

In court, Reese apologized to Johnson’s loved ones for both killing her and then befriending them in the wake of the brutal crime.

Johnson’s sister, Leila Hanes, called Rees “an abomination and a coward.”

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