WILMINGTON — Bond for the Blanchester man accused of kidnapping a woman Wednesday and holding her in a pit under a shed in his Central Avenue back yard was set at $1 million Thursday morning, and police have learned that the victim may have been abducted and assaulted previously by the suspect.
In a video conference, Clinton County Municipal Court Judge Mike Daugherty asked Dennis Dunn, 45, if he understood what he was charged with and if he understood the proceedings. Dunn answered, “Yes.”
Assistant prosecutor Andrew McCoy suggested to Daugherty that bond be set from $100,000 to $1 million. Factors he cited included that the victim, Jennifer Elliott, identified Dunn as the perpetrator and that Dunn’s alleged actions demonstrated premeditation, and Dunn may pose a threat to the public and to the victim.
Daugherty asked Dunn if he wished to respond to the prosecutor. Dunn declined.
Police said the victim was held for several hours until she was freed by police. She was reportedly treated and released from Clinton Memorial Hospital Wednesday.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 3 at 11 a.m. at the Wilmington municipal building.
Meanwhile, the victim’s mother told police that she believes that Dunn abducted her daughter about a year ago, saying in an interview obtainted by the the Wilmington News Journal that when Elliott went missing a year ago she couldn’t remember what happened because of a seizure she had. The mother said that over the course of the year her daughter had begun to remember things from that incident.
“The investigation into the kidnapping of Jennifer Elliott remains ongoing, with officers interviewing ancillary witnesses, logging evidence and fielding calls from both cranks and legitimate sources of information,” Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt stated in a press release late Thursday afternoon.
“Ms. Elliott was interviewed late yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon by a Blanchester police officer. We will not provide any information on her statement, other than to say that she told the officer who interviewed her that she has no interest in speaking with media outlets at this time.”
He added, “Our staff is comprised of 7 full-time and 1 part-time police officer. Demands for police service unrelated to this case have continued to come in as we have been dealing with this heinous crime. In short, we are taxed to our limit.”
In response to multiple media requests, Reinbolt said, “We are receiving ‘public records’ requests from media outlets seeking the crime scene photographs and investigative reports into the kidnapping. It is our position that crime scene photographs and investigative reports are exempt from public records disclosure at this time pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 149.43(A)(2) as confidential law enforcement investigatory records.”
History with accused
Blanchester police have a long history with Dunn, whose mental health was recently evaluated at Clermont Mercy after several recent incidents, including earlier this month.
In early April, Reinbolt said that on four separate occasions in one evening, Dunn “called police stating that people were trying to break into his house and that he could hear their voices. Each time an officer checked the home and surrounding area and found no one about.”
The next day police were called to the residence again, but this time by neighbors who reported Dunn in the yard with a pistol in his hand. “The responding officer saw Dunn in the yard with a gun in his hand, but he retreated into the home as the officer pulled up. Dunn then came out the front door, with the gun still in his hand, yelling about people being inside his home,” Reinbolt said.
“The responding officer ordered Dunn to drop the firearm. He did not immediately comply and was given additional orders to do so by the officer. He finally set the gun down on a lawn chair on the porch. A second Blanchester police officer arrived to assist, and Dunn was taken by police car to Clermont Mercy Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.”