Body of missing Ohio 14-year-old Harley Dilly found in chimney of vacant home

Harley Dilly
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TOLEDO, Ohio (AP/WTOL) — A three-week-long search for a missing Ohio teenager who was last seen walking to school ended after authorities announced Tuesday they found his body trapped inside the chimney of a vacant house near his home.

Authorities said 14-year-old Harley Dilly’s death is currently being considered an accident and they have found no signs of foul play. It appears Dilly had climbed an antenna, got onto the roof of the house across the street from where he lived and then went down its chimney, Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman said.

A report from the coroner on Tuesday afternoon stated Harley died of "compressive asphyxia." Compressive asphyxia is described as when the torso is compressed, preventing the lungs from expanding and hence interfering with breathing. Compressive asphyxia occurs when the chest or abdomen is compressed.

Final autopsy findings are awaiting toxicology, according to Dr. Dan Cadigan of the Ottawa County Coroner's Office. He indicated that the "manner of death appears to be accidental at this time but is awaiting completion of law enforcement investigation."

Authorities found Dilly’s body Monday night during another search of the neighborhood, a residential area along Lake Erie that is about 40 miles east of Toledo.

They already had looked around the outside of the house, which had been locked and had no signs of a forced entry, Hickman said.

“We had no reason to believe anyone was in the house,” he added.

Investigators went inside the house and found the boy’s coat and glasses on the second floor next to the chimney. It is unclear why Dilly would have gone into the home.

He was last seen on surveillance video leaving for school on the morning of Dec. 20.

Authorities first thought the teen may have run away from home, because his family had said he would sometimes spend a night away from home if he got upset. At the time of Dilly’s disappearance, Hickman said the teen may have been upset about having electronics taken away from him.

Since then, volunteers and authorities searched through nearby neighborhoods along Lake Erie with help from K-9 teams and helicopters.

Police also had asked residents to review their home security footage, hoping that might offer clues about what happened.