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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: In addition to the murders, Acevedo admitted to raping his sister-in-law in 1993 and sexually assaulting his three daughters repeatedly for years
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: October 24, 1994 / January 10, 1995
Date of arrest: June 11, 2013
Date of birth: 1964
Victim profile: Pamela Pemberton, 30 / Christina Adkins, 18 (five months pregnant)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to 445 years to life in prison without parole on December 30, 2013

photo gallery


Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas


Elias Acevedo Indictment (4.1 Mb)


Elias Acevedo Sr. to serve life in prison for two murders and rapes of four family members

By Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer

December 30, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Convicted sex offender Elias Acevedo Sr. will serve life in prison as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted today to killing two Cleveland women and devastating the lives of many others.

In addition to the murders, the 49-year-old admitted to raping his sister-in-law in 1993 and sexually assaulting his three daughters repeatedly for years.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Blaise Thomas said Acevedo will never be paroled from prison and his total sentence agreed to is 445 years for all the crimes, which left a "wake of emotional wreckage" for his victims and could have easily been deserving of a death penalty.

Three of Acevedo's daughters, now grown, gave gut-wrenching statements about how the years of rape and abuse had damaged them.

"You have changed my life forever," one daughter said. "You robbed me of my childhood...I have lived in fear but I will no longer."

The Plain Dealer normally does not identify victims of rape; however, Acevedo's victims in the case consented to revealing their relationship to their attacker. They said they are getting help and healing.

The women's aunt spoke about how Acevedo raped her 20 years ago when she was 18 years old, and 5 ½ months pregnant with his brother's child.

She reported the rape but didn't go forward with charges because she was afraid.

"I am grateful I can stand here today as one of his survivors," she said. "Back then I was the coward, but I'm not a coward anymore."

The woman, now in her 30s, was key in helping investigators gather information on Acevedo after her 1993 rape case was reopened as part of the county's DNA Cold Case Task Force initiative after a rape kit collected 20-years ago was recently tested.

Acevedo's living rape victims and other witnesses gave investigators from the FBI Violent Crime Task Force vital information and ammunition as they began probing his possible involvement in the 1995 disappearance of Christina Adkins this spring, in the wake of the Ariel Castro case.

As a part of Monday's court hearing, FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke described how Acevedo was first confronted with evidence related to the chronic sexual abuse of his daughters. He eventually admitted to those crimes, which alone could have netted him life in prison.

But when investigators first asked him about Adkins, he denied any involvement.

It was only after Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty agreed to take the death penalty off the table that Acevedo confessed to killing Adkins and 30-year-old Pamela Pemberton in 1994. McGinty credits Burke's dogged determination in solving the cold cases despite having little evidence initially that connected Acevedo to the murders. He said the interrogation, which lasted hours, was masterful.

Acevedo knew both Pemberton, who was his neighbor, and Adkins, who was his cousin's girlfriend.

Acevedo told authorities that they he and Pemberton were drinking with friends and later walked to Clark Field in Tremont. When Pemberton refused to have sex with him and yelled at him, he raped and strangled her, leaving her body in a wooded area where it was later discovered by neighborhood boys.

Just 2 ½ months later, Acevedo said he ran into Adkins on West 25th Street. The 18-year old was five months pregnant and was upset. Acevedo convinced her to walk with him to an area near a highway interchange. When she resisted having sex with him, he raped her.

When she threatened to tell her boyfriend and Acevedo's wife what happened, Acevedo told investigators he snapped and killed her, and put her body into a nearby utility vault, where it stayed for 18 years.

Burke testified during a hearing Monday that Acevedo was one of the last people seen with Adkins before she disappeared, though his name in the initial police report was incorrectly listed as Eliza Rivera.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly said he learned Monday morning that prosecutors and defense attorneys had worked out a plea deal in the case.

The sentence, which is the harshest sentence Donnelly said he has ever doled out, was appropriate and more humane than what Acevedo had imposed on his victims.

As a part of the agreement, prosecutors will not charge Acevedo with additional crimes related to the six victims in the case. However, they could charge him in cases involving other victims.

Acevedo also agreed not to profit in anyway from the crimes.

Acevedo's attorney, Bret Jordan, said his client has mental health issues and has agreed to cooperate with FBI analysts to help prevent future crimes like the ones he committed.

"He has shown extraordinary remorse for everything that happened," Jordan said.

Acevedo, who sobbed as his daughters and victims' families spoke, wasn't going to speak at first.

But then he stood and apologized to the Pemberton and Adkins families and asked for forgiveness from his daughters as well.

"I can't describe the regret and shame I have for what I've done..," he said. "I wish I could bring your daughters back."

Pamela Pemberton's sister, Sheila, said it was horrifying to wonder for the past 19 years about who killed her sister.

"It took me years to stop crying every day," Sheila said.

Christina's sister, Tonia, said nothing Acevedo could say would ever be good enough to bring back what was taken from the family.

"We never stopped looking for her," Tonia Adkins said. "Our hearts have been torn wide open."

But now, she said, they can begin to heal.


Elias Acevedo Sr. trial in murders of two women set for February

By Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer

December 02, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A judge set a Feb. 24 trial date Monday for Elias Acevedo Sr., accused of killing two women in the mid-1990s and of several additional sex crimes.

Defense attorneys for Acevedo had asked for a May trial date – citing thousands of pieces of evidence including a 10-hour video of investigators questioning Acevedo about the sex crimes and murders. That video contains admissions to the crimes, authorities have said.

Prosecutors have also said they expect additional charges against Acevedo.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly said he would consider defense and prosecution requests as quickly as they come in, but he wanted the case to move along.

"Make no mistake this is a top priority case on my docket," Donnelly said. "I want to keep the case moving."

Donnelly said he expects a court report assessing whether Acevedo is competent to stand trial to be completed within two weeks. Previous reports in other criminal cases found him to be competent.

Acevedo, 49, is charged with killing his former neighbor, Pamela Pemberton in 1994 and Christina Adkins months later in 1995.

He told Donnelly he had been meeting with his attorneys and was satisfied with them.

In addition, a 273-count indictment against Acevedo includes multiple charges of rape and kidnapping involving two children under the age of 13 and sexual assault charges involving a third child. Acevedo was also charged earlier this year with raping a woman in 1993 who was the common-law wife of his brother.

The DNA Cold Case Task Force reopened that case earlier this year after the previously untested rape kit linked Acevedo to the case. He was a suspect initially but the case didn't go forward at the time because the victim felt pressured not to prosecute.

Prosecutors say Acevedo strangled Pemberton, 30, and left her body in a vacant lot near West 11th Street in Tremont. Some school children playing in the lot found her body. Adkins was 18 and more than five months pregnant when she went missing in January 1995. Her family and investigators searched for clues in her disappearance for years.

Adkins' body was found in October inside a manhole between where several highways intersect. Prosecutors say Acevedo led them to her body.


Fourth woman makes rape allegations against neighbor of Ariel Castro ... and his three other victims 'are his family members'

  • Elias Acevedo, 49, has confessed to the kidnap, rape and murder of two women who disappeared in the mid-90s

  • At the time of the women's disappearance, Acevedo lived on the same block as Ariel Castro

  • Following the discovery of Castro's three kidnap victims, police increased their focus on missing persons

  • Paternity testing shows that Acevedo fathered child with one member of his own family

By Alex Greig and Hayley O'keeffe -

October 24, 2013

Four women have now come forward to say that a neighbor of notorious kidnapper and rapist Arial Castro raped them, with three of the alleged victims being family members.

Elias Acevedo has confessed to the kidnapping, rape and murder of two women in a Cleveland neighborhood in the 1990s, at a time when he lived close to Castro, as well as additional rape and kidnapping charges.

A fourth woman has now come forward to report that she too was raped by Acevedo, and paternity testing has shown that he fathered a child with one of his own family.

Elias Acevedo, 49, has been charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of 30-year-old Pamela Pemberton who was found strangled in 1994, and Christina Adkins, who was 18 and five months pregnant at the time of her disappearance in 1995.

He faces 293 counts, including charges involving the rape and kidnap of children.

Acevedo lived on the same block as sadistic Castro during the 1990s. Castro died while serving a life sentence, plus 1,000 years, and was found with his trousers round his ankles after dying while indulging in auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Following the discovery of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus, who had been missing for 10 years, languishing in the basement of Castro's home, there was a renewed focus on missing persons cold cases.

'Because the public became more aware and investigators were determined and relentless, people were re-interviewed and there was an increased interest in these missing person cases,' FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said.

When police questioned Castro's neighbors, it was discovered that Acevedo was a convicted sex offender and hadn't reported his address to police.

Acevedo was arrested on June 11 in connection with a 1993 rape case after a rape kit taken at the time was tested for DNA evidence.

According to, the woman Acevedo raped in 1993 was his brother's common-law wife.

She dropped the charges against him because he had seven children and twins on the way at the time.

When detectives spoke with her about Acevedo this year, they were able to start building up a profile of his behaviour, which involved strangling, keeping the underwear of his victims and a tendency to return to certain geographical areas.

The 1993 rape occurred close to the spot where his neighbor Pemberton's body was found in 1994.

Pamela Pemberton was found dead in a field on West 11th Street, near Clark Field, by three youths going to school October 24, 1994.

Homicide detectives said Pemberton had been strangled and was found naked.

She had been going to meet a friend at a bar and never returned home.

Acevedo was then linked to the 1995 disappearance of Adkins, who was last seen close to Acevedo's home.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office said that Acevedo has confessed to the murders, which means authorities will not seek the death penalty.

The Guardian reports that Acevedo led detectives to the spot where he dumped Adkins' body in a manhole under a busy highway overpass on the Ohio city’s west side.

Remains recovered from the manhole were sent for DNA testing and test results today proved the remains were those of Adkins.

Acevedo has a long criminal history that dates back to 1988, including theft, receiving stolen property and a 2003 rape and kidnapping case for which he served three years in prison.

The 293-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, charged Acevedo with aggravated murder, as well as 173 counts of rape, 115 counts of kidnapping and one count of gross sexual imposition.


The longest of long shots: How authorities got Elias Acevedo to confess to two murders

By Rachel Dissell - The Plain Dealer

October 18, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cars rhythmically pass by in three different directions, whizzing by the triangle of brush and grass where authorities say sex offender Elias Acevedo Sr. led them last week.

A matted brown teddy bear rests in a tumble of branches less than 20 feet from the manhole that entombed Christina Adkins' petite body for more than 18 years, just south of Interstate 90 where several highway routes and ramps intersect.

View full sizeChristina Adkins has been missing since 1995.

That she was found -- her clothes and even an identification card with her mostly intact skeleton – was the longest of long shots.

Authorities had strong instincts about Acevedo but no slam-dunk evidence. So how did they end up with a confession and indictment in not just Adkins' unsolved disappearance, but in a second cold case killing: that of 30-year-old Pamela Pemberton, who was killed just 2 ½ months before the 18-year-old Adkins disappeared?

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said Thursday's charges against Acevedo, 49, were the result of an attitude and drive that all law enforcement should strive for.

"This was a long shot," McGinty said of taking the hunch about Acevedo and turning it into a pair of indictments for long-unsolved killings. "This wasn't a 100-to-one horse, it was a 1,000-to-one horse."

Frankly, McGinty thought investigators from the elite FBI Violent Crimes Task Force were a bit crazy when they first came to him with their plan.

The task force is composed of FBI agents, Cleveland and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office.

Their renewed push and momentum to press unsolved missing persons cases came after three women and a child escaped after being held captive for about a decade from Ariel Castro's Seymour Avenue home in May.

In an eerie coincidence, their eventual target -- Acevedo -- was living doors from Castro's home and was interviewed briefly by authorities in the aftermath of the miraculous escape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Acevedo was already on the radar of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office for failing to register his address when he moved, as sex offenders are required to.

And the county's DNA Cold Case Task Force was on the hunt for him as well – but not for murder. They were investigating rape.

Acevedo's DNA profile had turned up in during the testing of a sexual assault evidence kit originally collected in 1993, one of the thousands of kits Cleveland police have vowed to test.

As in many of the decades-old cases that task force is tackling, DNA wasn't the pivotal factor but rather the genesis for a new look at an old case – and a deeper look at the suspected offenders.

Acevedo was 29 then, when his brother's common-law wife told police Acevedo raped her.

The 18-year-old told police Acevedo offered to help her track down husband, whom she was looking for. They popped into a bar and didn't find him, and Acevedo suggested he might be down in Tremont's Clark Field. The woman said Acevedo raped her twice in a wooded corner of the field, choking her until she thought she lost consciousness.

Afterward, he told the victim to get dressed, but kept her underwear, she said. He walked her home, where she told her husband what happened. He called police.

But the woman later told Cleveland sex crime police she didn't want to prosecute Acevedo because he had seven children and twins on the way. The case was closed.

Twenty years later, the same woman was able to give Bureau of Criminal Investigation Agent Robert Surgenor – who is on the sexual assault kit task force – more insight into Acevedo, his personality and other crimes he could be involved with.

The profile Surgenor built on Acevedo, based on law enforcement records and interviews, helped make him look even more like suspect to authorities as a serial sexual offender – one potentially capable of murder.

But in 1995, when Adkins disappeared, authorities focused mostly on her boyfriend, Jose Rivera. The two were expecting a child together, and Adkins' family members said the relationship was a rocky one and the two had been fighting.

The investigation did touch tangentially on Acevedo. He was one of the many people questioned in the case as police searched for anyone who could have seen or heard anything about Adkins, who was last seen sitting on a stoop on West 25th Street near Kinkel Avenue where she lived.

At the time, Acevedo didn't appear to be a feasible suspect. His criminal history consisted only of petty drug and theft offenses. It would be nearly nine more years before Acevedo was convicted of a sex offense – sexual battery – and ordered to register with the Sheriff's office for the next decade as a sex offender.

But now, 18 years after Adkins' disappearance, it was those tenuous connections, along with new information about several other sex offenses authorities believed Acevedo committed, that convinced the team of FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke, Cleveland detectives Andrew Harasimchuck and Lynn Bilko and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's detective deputy Mark Adams to go after the 49-year-old.

"At the time, they didn't look at Acevedo," McGinty said. "But years later, these guys weren't afraid to look at this completely differently with a fresh set of eyes."

It helped, McGinty said, that Acevedo was sitting in the County Jail facing fresh rape and kidnapping charges in the 1993 case he was recently linked to through the testing of the sexual assault evidence kit.

But the task force didn't confront him right away.

Quietly, they continued to gather information and evidence on Acevedo and interview people who might know more about him.

On Aug. 30, the public got the first inkling that the Adkins investigation had new life. An FBI-led evidence recovery team searched the home where Acevedo and some of his extended family lived during much of the 1990s.

A spokeswoman was tight-lipped about what was being sought at the time, but a little more than a month later the team was out searching again, this time at Clark Field, in the same area that Acevedo was accused of raping the woman in 1993.

That search, however, turned up only animal bones.

After that, authorities huddled and decided they would have to confront Acevedo.

The team decided last Thursday to bring him over to FBI headquarters on Lakeside Avenue for the day.

Agent Burke began chatting with Acevedo first and asked him about information the task force had gathered on separate sexual assaults involving a child, which he denied.

Burke then laid out forensic evidence, backing up the case and told Acevedo he could be charged and go to prison for life. (Acevedo is also now charged with raping several children as well.)

McGinty said he was impressed with Burke's ability to establish a rapport with such a tough character. He said the team had put together a precise plan to persuade Acevedo to talk.

"It wasn't like he was having pangs of conscience," McGinty said.

After that, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Blaise Thomas approached Acevedo, making him what could have been a risky offer. Thomas told him that McGinty would offer him a one-time deal; one the prosecutor refers to as his "blue light special."

Anything Acevedo told them before 6 p.m. about any crimes he committed would not result in a death penalty case – he would serve the rest of his life in prison for all the offenses.

At first, Acevedo said he needed time to think and to talk to his family. But prosecutors were firm on their offer.

McGinty said Acevedo eventually relented and admitted to killing Pemberton and later to kidnapping and strangling Adkins. The questioning and confession were all videotaped, authorities say.

He attempted to explain to authorities where to find her, but the location was confusing.

"We couldn't understand what he was talking about," McGinty said. "I doubt we ever would have found her there."

So they had Acevedo lead them to the spot, tucked almost under an overpass, where a well-worn path led to a homeless encampment set up with a tent and personal belongings likely collected over years. An Ohio State flag, a toothbrush, a can of sliced peaches.

There they saw the isolated sewer manhole. When they lifted an old wooden tabletop laid over the metal, they knew they were in the correct spot.

McGinty said he didn't like making the deal – but it was necessary.

"He needed the leverage and we gave it to him," McGinty said.

In the end, Acevedo confessed to killing Adkins and Pemberton, a secretary who lived just a block away from Acevedo in 1994, when her body was discovered. She told family she was meeting a friend for a drink at a neighborhood bar and never made it home.

Three teenage boys found Pemberton's body in a vacant field near West 11th Street, not far from Clark Field.

At the time, the county coroner determined Pemberton had been manually strangled and likely sexually assaulted. Her body had been dragged into some brush.

Solving the two cases against the long-shot odds, McGinty said, demonstrates how law enforcement can build public confidence. He believes the on-the-ground work of the Violent Crimes Task Force, along with the revisiting of old rape cases -- and a lot of determination -- finally put Acevedo in their sights.

And the work, he said, will continue.

"This attitude ties directly into these solves," he said. ""Now we're going to keep knocking these guys out."


Contractors find women's underwear, clothing above ceiling of former home of Elias Acevedo

By Cory Shaffer - Northeast Ohio Media Group

October 18, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Contractors working Friday at the Vega Avenue home where Elias Acevedo Sr. lived during the 1990s found women’s underwear and clothing above plaster in the ceiling.

Bailey Conley and Mark Stern said they were preparing the home to be sold for the bank Friday, when Conley was tearing the down plaster ceiling of the second-floor master bedroom.

Conley, 17, was on his second day on the job as a contractor, he said, when he found about 15 pairs of women's underwear and a box full of women's clothing completely sealed above a plastered ceiling.

He said there was also a shirt he said looked like it belonged to a child between the ages of 8 and 10.

“Something definitely happened here,” Conley said. “Whoever did this knew what they were doing.”

The finding came hours before the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that remains found Friday belonged to Christina Adkins, who went missing in 1994 when she was 18 and 5 1/2 months pregnant.

Acevedo was indicted Thursday in the murders of Adkins and Pamela Pemberton months apart in 1994. Records indicate that Acevedo and his family lived in the home from 1993 to at least 1998.

Acevedo was also indicted earlier this year on rape charges based on newly tested DNA from a 1993 case. The victim in that case said Acevedo had taken her underwear after he raped her in Tremont’s Clark Field.

After finding the underwear, which Conley said was completely sealed above the ceiling and there was "no way to get to it," NewsChannel 5's Kristin Volk arrived on scene. Conley said when Volk told them about Acevedo, they showed her the underwear.

Conley said Volk then contacted authorities, who showed up within minutes.

Cleveland Police Department spokeswoman Det. Jennifer Ciaccia said the department’s Scientific Investigative Unit responded, with assistance from the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force.

Ciaccia declined to confirm if any items were taken from the home.

“I can only confirm that we were there as a continuation of the investigation,” Ciaccia said in an email.

Authorities searched the Vega Avenue home for evidence tied to Adkins' disappearance in August, before Acevedo was publicly linked to the case.


Elias Acevedo Sr. indicted in murders of two Cleveland women

By Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer

October 17, 2013

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cuyahoga County grand jury on Thursday indicted sex offender Elias Acevedo Sr. in the murders of two women who were killed nearly 19 years ago.

Prosecutors say Acevedo strangled 30-year-old Pamela Pemberton in October of 1994 and left her body in a vacant lot near West 11th Street in Tremont.

Prosecutors believe Acevedo killed 18-year-old Christina Adkins, though in the indictment she is listed as "Jane Doe" until the body is positively identified by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office. An identification card belonging to Adkins was found near the remains.

Acevedo, 49, is also charged in additional kidnapping and rape cases, some of them involving children. He faces a total 293 counts.

Acevedo has been on the radar of the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force since at least August. The task force, which includes the Cleveland and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office, coordinated several searches and gathered evidence it felt could link Acevedo to the unsolved cases.

Last week, an evidence recovery team located the skeletal remains authorities believe is Adkins in an isolated triangle of land where several highway routes and ramps intersect just south of Interstate 90.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty called the investigation "some of the finest police work I've seen in 40 years."

This case, he said, should signal to other sex offenders that "you can run, but you cannot hide." Victims and survivors and their families should know, "we will never forget, nor will we ever give up."

Tonia Adkins said her family is struggling to cope with the information and waiting for a positive identification of her sister.

"It's like a reopening of a wound," Tonia Adkins said. "It starts to heal a little bit and it gets reopened again."

Her family, she said, is seeking counseling to help them grieve the loss.

"We hope she will get a proper place to rest now," she said.

Adkins, who was 18 and 5½ months pregnant, had been missing since January 1995 – about 2½ months after Pemberton was killed.

The location where the remains were found is not far from where Pemberton's body was found – though separated by highways that cut through Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.

"I'm happy that this brings closure," Pemberton's sister Sheila said Thursday.

"Hopefully they have enough evidence to go through with this indictment," she said. "When they told me that they might have had something, I stayed low-key. Hopeful but low-key."

Pemberton's body was found on Oct. 24, 1994 close to Clark Field, a location that was also searched as investigators were looking for evidence against Acevedo. He is currently in the Cuyahoga County Jail, where he's been held since June when he was arrested on charges he raped a woman in Clark Field in 1993.

Attorney Bret Jordan represents him in the 1993 case and will likely be appointed to represent Acevedo on the current charges as well. He said Thursday he couldn't comment at this point on those charges.

In addition, Acevedo also faces charges he failed to register his address, as a judge ordered him to do when he was classified a sex offender after a 2003 sexual battery conviction.

The 1993 case was reopened earlier this year after Cuyahoga County's DNA Cold Case Task Force began looking into unsolved rapes based on new DNA evidence.

Acevedo knew the victim who made the report in 1993 and she told authorities she was pressured by people not to prosecute him because he was the father of seven and his wife was expecting twins. That victim told police at the time Acevedo strangled her during the rape and she may have lost consciousness.

That case is set for trial in December.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said the team effort also involved the greater community, which has called in tips and information in cases, especially since the Ariel Castro case. "We hope that this continues," Anthony said, noting that attention can now focus on the disappearance of 14-year-old Ashley Summers in 2007 and the unsolved murder of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic, who was killed in 1989.



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