TOLEDO, Ohio — An Ohio teenager who police believe got accidentally trapped in the chimney of a vacant home and who was found dead after a three-week search was not reported missing by his family until nearly two days after they last saw him, according to police records.
The boy’s father told police that it wasn’t unusual for him to spend a Friday night away from home, but that he became concerned because he usually would return by the next morning. The father also told police that he had no reason to believe his son was in danger and that the boy didn’t have a history of being suicidal.
Authorities have said that it appears 14-year-old Harley Dilly had climbed an antenna at the vacant house across the street from where he lived, got onto the roof and then went down the chimney.
His body was found Jan. 13, and a coroner ruled that Harley died of compressive asphyxia, which is when breathing is prevented by external pressure. The coroner said it wasn’t possible to determine when the boy died, but he thought it was likely Harley died the same day he disappeared.
It’s not clear why Harley was trying to get in the house or why he decided not to go home the night of Dec. 20, the day he was last seen by his family leaving for school.
Marcus Dilly told police late on the following day that his son had been upset because his phone was broken and because he was told he would need to earn money to replace it, according to an initial police report released Tuesday.
He also told police that Harley had ADHD and autism and that he was highly intelligent.
Dilly told police he had never filed a missing persons report on previous occasions when Harley would not come home after school.
Harley told his mother on the morning he was last seen that he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to go to school, but she made him go, the police report said.
Investigators and volunteers searched the neighbourhood, including outside the house where his body was found, but they had no reason to go inside at first because the vacant house was locked and there were no signs that anyone had gone inside, police said.
John Seewer, The Associated Press