Coroner: Harley Dilly died from compressive asphyxia

Local News

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ottawa County Coroner’s Office determined Harley Dilly died from compressive asphyxia.

Police say the body of the missing Port Clinton teen was found in a house near his family home, trapped in a fireplace.

According to Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman, police began searching the unoccupied house shortly after 4 p.m. Monday.

Inside the house in the 500 block of Fulton Street, police found Harley’s glasses and a coat on the second floor of the house next to a brick chimney. Investigators then searched the chimney and found a body believed to be Dilly.

His family was notified early this morning.

Police say the death is being considered an accident. According to Hickman, investigators believe Dilly climbed up an antenna tower to the roof. He then climbed into the chimney, where he became stuck.

Left: The house where Dilly’s body was found. Right: 14-year-old Harley Dilly.

“Once in the chimney, Harley’s jacket and glasses were pushed from the chimney through a flue and into the second floor of the house,” Chief Hickman explained. “The chimney was blocked between the second and first floor, which trapped Harley.”

The chimney is approximately 9 by 13 inches in size, Hickman noted.

Chief Hickman said other vacant houses in the area that were unsecured had previously been searched. Hickman said the house Harley was found in was double locked and showed no signs of forced entry. The chief explained the house is used as a vacation-type home.

“You talk about people coming together in a time of need, and that’s exactly what we saw throughout the community and beyond. I now ask for the same compassion and support as the family and friends begin to grieve.”


Harley was last seen leaving his house on the morning of Dec. 20. He did not make it to school that day.

“This is a tragic outcome to the case and a tough loss to the community,” Hickman said. “I want to stress that the investigators in this case were many and the investigation was thorough.”

Over the past few weeks, the FBI, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service have aided the Port Clinton Police Department in the investigation. Volunteers also organized a search for the missing teen.

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