A Blanchester, Ohio, woman who miraculously survived a brutal kidnapping revealed the horrifying details of her experience during a preliminary court hearing on Thursday, while the suspect claims it’s all untrue and that he’s being set up.
WCPO reports that Jennifer Elliott, 30, testified against her 45-year-old neighbor, Dennis Dunn, who reportedly kidnapped her, and threw her into a 3-and-a-half feet deep dirt pit inside his shed.
“When he closed the shed door, he said, ‘I love you,’” Elliot testified. “I remember banging on the dirt and screaming.”
According to Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt, Elliott was found inside the dirt pit at around 4 a.m. on April 26. The pit was hidden inside a shed located at 113 Central Ave. The suspect allegedly covered the pit with wood planks across the top. Heavy objects were placed on top of the wood so that Elliott couldn’t escape. When discovered, Elliott couldn’t talk and appeared to be having a seizure.
Jennifer Elliott was found alive in a pit in her neighbor’s backyard. She describes the harrowing experience: https://t.co/fTn9veEJof
— Primetime Justice (@PTJusticeHLN) May 5, 2017
Gayle Rowe, Elliott’s mother, reported her daughter missing on April 26 at around 1:30 a.m. Rowe later heard noises coming from the shed and informed the police.
Dunn’s attorney, James Hartke, argued that he was mentally incompetent and couldn’t stand trial, which will be decided at a later date. For now, his case is being sent to a grand jury for indictment. He remains behind bars on a $1 million bond.
Hartke indicated that although he doesn’t know what happened between April 25 and April 26, his client told him that he never kidnapped Elliott and that he’s being “set up” for something he didn’t do.
“I don’t know the truth of what occurred between my client and the victim,” Hartke told People. “There are two different stories. I wasn’t there, I don’t know.”
Hartke pointed out that he is not saying Elliott didn’t go through trauma while being locked away in a dirt pit in the shed. He said he wasn’t putting the blame on her, but there were a lot of odd statements made that didn’t make sense to him.
“It’s my opinion that she was not being as truthful as she should have been on the stand. There is something else going on that I have not yet figured out, and it does not make any sense to me.”
Dunn claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Elliott, something that she vehemently denies. In October, she called the police after Dunn reportedly harassed her over the phone, via voice and text messages. She never pressed charges. They both admit that they’ve known each for quite a while, but while Dunn said they were more than friends, Elliott said she only knew him as a neighbor.
The conflicting stories make Dunn think that the kidnapping charge isn’t valid.
“I’m not saying my client is totally innocent by any means. [But] I don’t think he’s guilty of kidnapping. He may be guilty of unlawful restraint.”
[Feature Photo: Handout/Blanchester Police Department]