An Ohio boy found dead in a chimney earlier this month following a month-long search likely died the same day he vanished, reports made public this week revealed.
According to WTVG, Port Clinton police chief Rob Hickman said Harley Dilly’s death appears to be accidental and not the result of foul play. The Lucas County Coroner’s Office determined that the 14-year-old died of compression asphyxia the same day of his December 20 disappearance.
Surveillance cameras had caught Dilly walking in an area between his home on East 5th Street and the Port Clinton high and middle school campus between 6 and 7 a.m. on December 20. Authorities said they now believe the teen scaled an antenna tower attached to a nearby house and became trapped in a 9-by-13-inch chimney.
Dilly was found dead in the chimney on January 14. His glasses and jacket were reportedly located outside the flue on the second floor. Reports indicated that the home he was discovered in is a vacation home that was undergoing renovation while the owners were out of town.
Hickman said that searchers canvassed the home before Dilly was found dead. There was reportedly no indication of forced entry, leading investigators to believe the residence was unoccupied. It’s unclear what led authorities back to the home on January 14.
According to the recently-released missing person’s report, Dilly’s father reported his disappearance before midnight on December 21. The teen had recently broken his phone, possibly explaining why his family was not concerned about not hearing from him until hours later.
Dilly’s father reportedly claimed he and his son had gotten into an argument about his broken phone. He allegedly stated that his son “demanded” a new phone and he said he would have to earn one. He also explained that in the past, the teen would not come home from school on a Friday but would return the following day. However, those alleged instances were not reported to police.
Law enforcement wrote that Dilly’s mother claimed she had told him to go to school because she believed “he was trying to get out of going to school and stated he didn’t feel good.”
Dilly’s father reportedly told officers that his son had ADHD and autism. He said that Dilly does not like the cold, but that he was capable enough to get out of the elements.
Port Clinton police said they are awaiting reports from other agencies who were involved in the search. WTVG reported that a toxicology analysis report is pending.
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[Featured image: Harley Dilly/Port Clinton Police Department]