“How did he get released?” asked Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.
Reinbolt was talking about Dennis Dunn, a 45-year-old man with a history of mental health issues and interactions with police.
Police accused Dunn on Wednesday of kidnapping after a woman was reported missing at 2 a.m. and then found in a small grave-like pit in Dunn’s backyard shed. Neighbors had heard cries for help and called police.
An officer found the woman, 30-year-old Jennifer Elliott, in the pit in the floor of the shed with wood over top of it. Police said heavy objects covered the wood, preventing her from getting out.The pit was about 3 ½ feet deep and 2 feet in diameter. It was not clear how long she was there.
Elliott was shaking and appeared to be having a seizure, but police said she showed no outward signs of physical trauma. She was treated at a hospital and released.
Dunn is at the Clinton County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning.
Earlier this month, he was accused of disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Chief Reinbolt said Dunn was hearing voices and called police on more than four occasions claiming someone had entered his home.
At one point, his neighbors called police when they saw him in the yard with a pistol.
Police took him to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation on April 2, Reinbolt said. Two days later, Dunn called police again claiming someone was pounding on the windows of his home. An officer responded and found no one there but Dunn.
“Obviously the problem wasn’t solved,” said Reinbolt, discussing the mental health treatment Dunn received. “Obviously this is somebody that I think would be better served in a controlled environment where he can receive regular care and, mainly, so he’s not a threat to the Jennifer Elliotts of the world.”
Dunn’s father showed up to the house on Central Avenue Wednesday morning and apologized to the chief for having to deal with his son.
“To me, it’s sad. It’s not his responsibility to provide mental health care for his adult son,” Reinbolt said.
It couldn’t immediately be determined whether Dunn had an attorney who could comment on the accusations against him.
In October, Elliott told police she had been receiving harassing phone calls and text messages from Dunn, but ultimately declined to participate in pressing charges.
Several Blanchester residents referenced the movie Silence of the Lambs Wednesday afternoon, as news trucks lined the street and several cars drove by just to see what was going on.
Emily Noe was spending the night at her father’s house. She said she has been friends with Dunn for five years.
“I cannot picture him doing that,” said Noe. “I’ve seen him do too many kind things.”
She remembered Dunn coming over for cookouts on July 4th and buying diapers for her young son when she couldn’t afford to. She said she once helped Dunn clean out the shed in which Elliott was found.
But while she was sitting on her father’s porch defending Dunn, her husband, Jeff Drake, sat down and without hesitating said, “He’s crazy.” USA TODAY