BLANCHESTER, Ohio — A man with mental health problems kidnapped a neighbor and kept her trapped in a small grave-like pit in his backyard shed, where her cries for help alerted other people living nearby and led to her rescue, police said.
Police in Blanchester, about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati, said the owner of the shed, Dennis Dunn, was arrested on Wednesday and was taken to a hospital. They said Dunn has a history of mental health issues.The woman was treated at a hospital and was released.
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The woman was reported missing at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, and neighbors called police at about 4 a.m. after hearing cries from the shed behind Dunn’s house, police said.
“So at 4 in the morning an officer shows up and goes back to the shed and finds her in the shed, in a pit that was dug in the floor of the shed with wood over top of it,” police Chief Scott Reinbolt told the Wilmington News Journal.
Officers said the hole, described as “tight quarters” and about 40 inches deep and 24 inches wide, was covered with a wooden board that had heavy objects on top of it, preventing the woman from getting out. They didn’t say how long the pit was.
Dunn couldn’t be reached for comment while in custody at the hospital. It couldn’t immediately be determined whether he had an attorney who could comment on the accusations against him.
Dunn was charged earlier this month with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. Police said he had repeatedly called them to his home because he heard voices or thought people were trying to get in. Officers checked the home each time but found no one around it.
Neighbors, on one night, reported Dunn in the yard with a pistol in his hand, and he was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric revaluation and later was released, Reinbolt said.
Court records show Dunn is scheduled for a hearing on the earlier misdemeanor charges in Clinton County Municipal Court in May.
A neighbor, Emily Noe, told the News Journal she couldn’t imagine Dunn doing this. She said she knew him for about five years after meeting through mutual friends.
“He has played with my kids. I’ve had him over at my house for cookouts,” she said. “Not in a million years could I see him do this.”