BLANCHESTER, OH- A man that police say is mentally ill is accused of capturing a woman and putting her in a 3-foot x 2-foot pit in his backyard.
Jennifer Elliott, 30, was pulled from a dirt pit covered with heavy objects inside a shed at about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. She was found after her mother, who had reported her missing around 1:30 a.m., thought she heard cries coming from the area.
Police who investigated the noises found Elliott in a 3-and-a-half foot deep by 2-foot diameter hole. The pit was located at the home of 45-year-old Dennis Dunn.
Police Chief Scott Reinbolt says Dunn was charged with kidnapping and apprehended with help of the Warren County Tactical Team.
Dunn, who initially resisted attempts to speak to him, eventually “came to the front door in a nonchalant manner” at around 8 a.m., according Reinbolt. Prior run-ins with the suspect included drug arrests in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and a number of traffic-related charges.
Dunn also reported four break-ins at his house in April, and in one incident, Dunn was in his yard with a pistol. Although he was disarmed without incident, the event led to an involuntary psychological evaluation at Clermont Mercy Hospital.
The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office also had a history of investigating incidents involving Dunn and Elliott.
According to police, in October 2016 Elliott said Dunn was harassing her via calls and text messages. Elliott ultimately decided not to prosecute Dunn, the sheriff’s office reports.
Gayle Rowe, Elliott’s mother, lives with her daughter and grandson next door to Dunn. She reported Elliott missing after checking bedrooms and finding her daughter “inexplicably absent”. A neighborhood search found no trace of her.
When Elliot was finally uncovered, “(She) appeared to be suffering a seizure,” Reinbolt’s department said in a news release. Although there were “no obvious signs of physical trauma,” Elliott was unable to speak upon rescue.
Emergency crews took over and Elliott has now been released from a nearby hospital.
Though it’s unclear what Dunn’s intentions were, Reinbolt feels that elected officials in Columbus are to blame. He says they “have facilitated the closing of many mental health hospitals in Ohio over the past 20 years.” He says, “Dunn appeared to be in need of inpatient mental health treatment, but was released from the hospital after a short stay.”
The police Chief says that to reduce cost’s, the government “places dangerous, mentally ill people into our neighborhoods”, adding he’s “heartbroken” over the incident.
Dunn’s elderly father “showed up at the scene (Wednesday) morning to apologize to (officers) for having to deal with his son,” Reinbolt says.
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