PORT CLINTON, Ohio — A chimney expert is speaking out after police recovered the body of missing 14-year-old Harley Dilly after an hours-long search at a vacant home located near the Dilly residence.
Port Clinton Police Chief Rob Hickman confirmed in a noon press conference that Harley’s body has been recovered.
His body was found in a chimney, and police say it is believed that he attempted to enter the unoccupied home through the chimney and got stuck.
Hickman added that Harley climbed an antenna in order to enter the chimney, and that police believe there is no foul play involved at this time.
His glasses and jacket were found outside the flue on the second floor. The chimney was blocked between the second and first floor, which trapped Harley.
Ottawa County Coroner Dan Cadigan, M.D., said in a statement that the cause of death for Harley was determined as compressive asphyxia, which occurs when the chest or abdomen is compressed posteriorly.
The chimney is approximately 9 inches by 13 inches in size.
The chimney expert from Bascom who wishes to remain anonymous told TiffinOhio.net News: without a way for a person to get out of the position they’re in while in a chimney, they’ll die from lack of oxygen. And, in a chimney sized approximately 9 inches by 13 inches, there’s just not enough room to get out of that position.
“Final autopsy findings are awaiting toxicology,” Cadigan said in the statement. “Manner of death appears to be accidental at this time but is awaiting completion of law enforcement investigation.”
Hickman said the home was locked and investigators had canvassed the home before. There was no sign of forced entry into the home, leading investigators to believe no one was inside during their searches.
Hickman also said the house is a vacation home being remodeled and the owners live out of town.
“This is a tragic outcome to the case, and a tough loss to the community,” Hickman said. “I want to stress that the investigators in this case were many, and the investigation was thorough.”
Harley’s body was taken to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.
“Right now this is an ongoing investigation,” Hickman said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost canceled the statewide Endangered Missing Child Advisory for Harley on Tuesday morning, confirming in a press release that Harley has been “recovered.”
“We are heartbroken over the outcome but know every effort was made to find Harley. Chief Hickman shouldered the weight of this investigation which has resulted in a tragic loss for the community of Port Clinton. No case is tougher than when a kid goes missing,” Yost said in a statement.
Port Clinton Schools superintendent Patrick Adkins released this statement: “We are deeply saddened by the news regarding Harley Dilly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dilly family. Additional counselors are on site at Port Clinton High School today for both students and staff. At this time we are focusing our attention on our students and staff and will not be conducting any interviews. We ask that you please respect our request while our school community copes with this tragedy.”
Authorities arrived on-scene at the home, located near the intersection of Fulton St. and East 5th St. in Port Clinton, Monday evening around 7 p.m. and were still there as of early Tuesday morning.
The Port Clinton Police Department and Ohio BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) were among the agencies that have responded.
Evidence was collected from the scene.
The Dilly home is located in the 500 block of East 5th Street, near Fulton Street.
More than three weeks have passed since Dilly was reported missing.
Police have been called five times to the Dilly home since 2016
Port Clinton Police have been called to Harley Dilly’s home five times since 2016, with at least four of the five calls being made by Heather Dilly, Harley’s mother.
Most of the calls were to “calm [Harley] down” or to settle a dispute within the household, according to police records.
Port Clinton Police Chief Rob Hickman previously said in a press conference that officers had once been called to the home after Harley previously left the home following a family argument, and he didn’t return in that instance until the next morning.
Harley was an avid YouTuber and some of his videos have raised concerns
The channel appears to be used by Harley to live stream video games and post “vlog” videos of his life.
In one of the videos posted March 2018, when Harley was just 12 years old, he shared his personal cell phone number and encouraged his viewers to call him.
“I’m going to leak my number in the title of this video. If you want to call me just wait until after it’s after 2:30 in Ohio,” he said in the clip, which lasted a little over a minute.
In another video posted in August 2019, titled “PLAYING MM20 FOR FUN *SORRYFORMYDAD*,” Harley is heard apologizing to viewers after his father begins screaming at another child in the home for spilling a drink.
“My dad’s being an asshole right now, my bad,” Harley said in the video.
In another video, Harley talks about how he was charged with menacing after setting up a fight between two classmates for which he planned to sell tickets so others could watch one of the boys get beat up.
Harley’s disappearance has been featured on national TV, including Live PD
ABC News, Live PD, and several other national television programs have featured Harley’s disappearance.
Harley’s mom said she didn’t believe he was a runaway, said he “has a routine”
“I don’t believe that he was a runaway, I’m going to say it, I don’t care,” Heather said in a video live streamed to Facebook. “He’s not a runaway. This is not like him. He doesn’t do this stuff. He’s a momma’s boy. He has a routine.”
Heather has described Harley’s routine as “eating only certain foods” and “bathing multiple times a day” — sometimes up to 4 or 5 times per day, she said.
Harley has an older sister who lives in Kansas
Dilly has an older sister who lives in Kansas.
Multiple groups and individuals have donated to a reward fund for information leading to Harley’s safe return
There was over $19,000 in reward money for information leading to Harley’s safe return. Several groups and individuals have made donations, including:
- Friends of Liberty Aviation Museum – $455
- Anonymous donor – $1,000
- Donations through GoFundMe – $5,925
- William Buskey – $100
- Dwight D. Ramsdell – $250
- Firelands Plumbing LLC – $500
- Port Clinton Police Dept. and Ottawa Co. Prosecutor James VanEerten – $2,000
- Bikers Against Abused and Neglected Children – $2,000
- Susan and James Waingrow – $1,000
- Fisherman’s Wharf and BeYoutiful Hair/Nail Salon – $2,000
- Catawba Island Jewelers – $125
- RadAir Complete Car Care – $2,200