WILMINGTON — A Blanchester man found guilty of kidnapping his neighbor and placing her in a pit in 2017 has been granted a release from prison pending a retrial.
Dennis Dunn, 49, was granted a $10,000 signature recognizance bond by Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck while awaiting a new trial date.
This comes after the court agreed to relieve Dunn’s previous attorney, James Hartke, of his duties and have evidence in the trial stricken from the record in February.
Court documents indicated Hartke did not provide proper access of evidence to the prosecution.
“The state did not have access to the contents of a silver iPhone owned by Dennis Dunn which was in possession of the state of Ohio and password protected … The parties stipulated Exhibit 5, a black LG phone owned by Dennis Dunn, was never in possession of the state of Ohio and the state had no access to the contents on the phone,” court documents state.
The signature bond means Dunn will be closely supervised by authorities with a monitoring bracelet, is not allowed to leave his residence without permission from the court, must stay away from drugs and alcohol, and must “have no contact nor interfere … in any manner” with the victim — Jennifer Elliott.
Dunn was originally found guilty of kidnapping his neighbor, Jennifer Elliott, in April 2017. The case drew widespread attention, in part because Elliott was found in a pit dug beneath a shed in Dunn’s back yard in Blanchester.
Elliott was reported missing by her mother, Gayle Rowe, at 1:30 a.m. April 26, 2017 after she arrived home from work and couldn’t find her daughter. Elliott and her son were living with Rowe at the time of the incident.
Blanchester police say they found Elliott in a pit dug beneath a shed in Dunn’s back yard around 4 a.m. after Rowe reported she heard crying in the shed. The pit was approximately three-and-a-half feet deep and two feet in diameter, and covered with wood and heavy objects to hold the wood down, according to Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.
When Elliott was rescued, she appeared to be having a seizure and was transported to Clinton Memorial Hospital. Dunn was arrested and charged with kidnapping that day.
Dunn pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and stated he believed he was rescuing Elliott from her family. He believed she was forced to take part in prostitution and that her family was part of a satanic cult. He also stated he and Elliott were in a relationship and they planned it together.
Dunn was sentenced to seven years in prison in April 2019.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574