WILMINGTON — Accused kidnapper Dennis Dunn was found guilty of three of five kidnapping and felony counts by a Clinton County judge.
In a two-day bench trial that concluded early Tuesday afternoon, Common Pleas Court Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck declared Dennis Dunn, 47, of Blanchester guilty of one count of felony 1 kidnapping and two counts of felony 3 abduction for the April 26, 2017 incident in Blanchester.
He was found not guilty on the second felony 1 kidnapping and a third felony 3 abduction charge; both were dismissed because these charges indicate the crime was sexually motivated, which Rudduck believed wasn’t a factor.
Dunn was remanded to the Clinton County Jail until his sentencing on April 19.
Defense attorney James Hartke, during his closing argument, said Dunn had “the best of intentions, although wrongfully placed.”
Hartke also cited a distrust Dunn had with police and a belief that they were involved with a supposed Satanic cult and prostitution ring that the victim, Jennifer Elliott, was forced to be a part of.
He also cited the medical reports indicating she had no physical wounds from the date of the incident.
“I find it very strange that there were no defensive wounds. Nothing unique about her physical examination. No bruises, no cuts … no lacerations. She thought she was going to be killed. Obviously, the first reaction would be to fight like crazy … that did not occur,” he said.
Prosecutor Andrew McCoy, during his rebuttal, said Elliott “did not get that hole voluntarily”, citing she wouldn’t have left her eight-year-old son and medically disabled father all alone that late at night.
“There are much easier ways for someone to escape rather than being stuck underneath the floorboard of a shed,” said McCoy, in regards to Dunn’s claim he was helping her escape.
McCoy mentioned how Elliott could have died if she remained in that hole from her epileptic seizure if she was not treated.
The state acknowledged that Dunn may suffer from mental illness but cited that didn’t mean he didn’t know what he did was wrong.
“We’ve heard much about the defendant’s purported delusions, but let’s talk about reality,” McCoy said. “He offered no indication about the (Satanic) rituals, offered no indication that they were together or were working in concert. Jennifer told you he was angry, laying her down into that hole as he was closing the floorboard speaking in a hoarse whisper. He told her he was angry, he told her that she cost him his job, his house, his car, everything, and now ‘you’re going to lose everything and be mine.’ That is the reality.”
Both Dunn and Elliott testified on the first day of a bench trial on Monday.
Elliott was reported missing by her mother, Rowe, at 1:30 a.m. April 26, 2017, after she arrived home from work and couldn’t find her.
Elliott was found by Blanchester police in a pit dug out of a shed — described as approximately three-and-a-half feet deep, two feet in diameter, covered with wood and heavy objects — in Dunn’s backyard around 4 a.m. after Rowe reported she heard crying in the shed.
When Elliott was rescued she appeared to be having a seizure and she was transported to Clinton Memorial Hospital. Dunn was arrested and charged with kidnapping that morning Both Rowe and former Blanchester Police Officer Michael Keller recalled Monday that, when finding Elliott and recovering her from the pit, they heard her say it was Dunn and that she pleaded to them to “not let him put her back in.”
The defense counsel, James Hartke, and Dunn looked at phone records he claims shows that he and Elliott had texted and chatted numerous times, with Dunn claiming Elliott called him.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574