Body of boy missing for four weeks found in chimney of empty house
The body of a teenager who went missing the week before Christmas has been found trapped inside the chimney of an empty house.
Harley Dilly had not been seen since he was on his way to school early in the morning on 20 December.
Almost a month later, police in Ohio said the 14-year-old had been found dead at a property just around the corner from where he lived with his family.
Police chief Robert Hickman told reporters that the boy had climbed into the chimney by himself and had become trapped inside a space of just nine inches by 13 inches.
His glasses and jacket were found on the second floor before officers made the grim discovery inside the chimney.
Mr Hickman said: “It appears Harley climbed to the roof and entered the chimney. Once in the chimney, Harley’s jacket and glasses were pushed from the chimney through a flue and into the second floor of the house.
“The chimney was blocked between the second and first floor, which trapped Harley.”
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NBC News reported that police officers had been to the house previously, but did not go inside because there was no sign of forced entry and only returned once all leads had been exhausted.
During a follow-up visit on Monday, they decided to enter the property.
At a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Hickman added: “His family was notified early this morning, and this appears to be an accident.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but the family has closure.”
The Ottawa County Coroner’s Office has ruled the cause of death as compressive asphyxia, and Mr Hickman has said there was no evidence of foul play.
In a statement released by his office, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he was “heartbroken” by the news.
He said: “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.”