WILMINGTON, Ohio — The Blanchester man who claimed he hid his neighbor in a pit in his shed to protect her from a Satanic sex cult was found guilty of kidnapping and two counts of abduction Tuesday.
Clinton County Judge Tim Rudduck, who heard the bench trial, found Dennis Dunn not guilty on two counts that he abducted his neighbor, Jennifer Elliot, for sex.
Rudduck set sentencing for April 19. Dunn could get three to 10 years after both sides agreed to combine sentencing under the kidnapping count.
The defense asked the judge to find Dunn not guilty by reason of insanity. But Rudduck said that while the prosecution and defense agreed that Dunn has a severe mental disease, the defense didn't make a convincing argument that Dunn couldn't appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.
"That's the defense's burden," Rudduck said.
Blanchester police Officer Mark Keller had testified that he found Elliott in a 3-foot pit covered with boards on April 26, 2017, after Elliot’s mother reported her missing. Elliot was shaking and seizing, curled on her side with her knees raised to her chest, Keller said. The officer said Elliott repeatedly begged, "Don’t let him put me back in that hole."
Dunn had testified that he had not kidnapped Elliot or held her prisoner. Instead, he said, she asked him to hide her from an abusive, Satanic sex cult of which she was a member. Dunn also claimed he and Elliott had been in a long-term romantic relationship.
In her own testimony, Elliot had denied Dunn’s account of a sex cult or a relationship with Dunn and accused him of holding her captive in the shed. She said Dunn had an unwanted obsession with her and she reported him to police in 2016 for sending “harassing phone calls and text messages,” but she had decided not to press charges.