LPETTET/iStock(PORT CLINTON, Ohio) — Almost four weeks after 14-year-old Harley Dilly disappeared while walking to school, officials in Port Clinton, Ohio, said his body was found trapped inside the chimney of a vacant home.
Dilly left his home on Dec. 20 to go to his last day of school at Port Clinton High School before the holiday break. He never arrived.
Port Clinton Police Department Chief Robert J. Hickman tried not to break down in tears during a press conference on Tuesday where he announced that Dilly was dead. “This appears to be an accident, no foul play expected,” said Hickman.
Investigators re-canvassed the area on Monday and decided to search the summer home that was under renovations. “There is no evidence of forced entry. Since there is a lockbox and anyone can go in and out of the house, we went inside to check the house,” said Hickman.
When they entered the second floor of the house, they found Dilly’s jacket and glasses next to a brick chimney and his body caught inside.
Ottawa County’s Coroner Office determined that Dilly’s preliminary cause of death was compression asphyxia. The final autopsy report is awaiting the toxicology report.
“The chimney is between the second and third floors and is 9 by 13 inches,” said Hickman.
The hunt for Dilly began on Dec. 22 and the Port Clinton Police Department has provided daily updates on its social media account.
Investigators released a surveillance image of the last known sighting of Dilly crossing the street in front of his home on the 500 block of E. 5th Street wearing a thin maroon puffy jacket.
An Amber Alert was issued. Approximately 75 law enforcement agencies including the FBI, K-9 search and rescue teams and helicopters scoured over 150 acres to find Dilly.
Members of the community banned together to raise $18,095 in reward money for information leading to Dilly’s safe return and assisted with the search efforts.
On Saturday, over 100 members of the community volunteered to conduct their own search, according to the “Search Party of Harley Dilly” Facebook group.
On Tuesday the Amber Alert was cancelled because the “child has been recovered,” according to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
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