Updated: 6:07 p.m., Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has taken 14-year-old Harley Dilly off the missing and endangered child list after a body was recovered in an abandoned house near Dilly’s home in Port Clinton.
Tuesday evening, the Ottawa County Coroner's Office released a preliminary autopsy report, having determined Dilly died from compressive asphyxia after being trapped in the chimney.
Police believe Dilly’s death was an accident and no foul play is suspected.
Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman said evidence indicates Dilly climbed a nearby antenna tower, jumped onto the roof of the house and went down the chimney, where he became trapped. The house is an unoccupied summer home currently being remodeled, Hickman said.
“We are heartbroken over the outcome but know every effort was made to find Harley,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a written statement Tuesday. “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.”
Dilly was last seen on Dec. 20 on his way to school.
“Harley's coat, glasses were discovered on the second floor of the house next to a brick chimney. We were then able to discover what we believe to be Harley, who was caught in the chimney," Hickman said.
Port Clinton Police said on Dec. 26 that a “search of 150+ acres was conducted by multiple agencies, to include; Helicopters, Search & Rescue Canine Teams and approximately 75 Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire & Rescue Departments on the Local, County, State and Federal levels.”
Hickman held daily press conferences on his disappearance, but switched to daily Facebook updates on Dec. 30.
“The family has fully cooperated and we have no reason to believe they are involved.” Hickman said in one Facebook update. His mother told authorities that Dilly would sometimes stay at a friend’s if he was upset.