Mom heard missing daughter trapped in pit: 'If we wouldn't have found her, she would be dead'

Posted at 10:23 AM, Apr 27, 2017

WILMINGTON, Ohio -- A panicked mother searching for her missing daughter said she heard her trapped in a pit under a neighbor's shed and alerted police.

Gayle Rowe was searching for Jennifer Elliott, 30, after reporting Elliot missing at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

While walking down an alley with a neighbor near her Blanchester home where she lives with her daughter and grandchild, Rowe said she heard a sound.

'I say, 'Did you hear that?' She said, 'No.' And I said, 'Listen, it could just be a cat' ... and so I started pounding on the side of the shed and said, 'Jennifer, if you're in there, peck again so that we know that you're in there,'" Rowe said. "'We will get you out.'"

They did hear another peck, and Rowe called the police.

"As I'm talking to the cops, she starts crying," Rowe said.

When the police arrived, they found the shed was locked. They used a crowbar to break off the lock and then tore up the floor inside, Rowe said.

Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt said officers pulled Elliott from a dirt pit inside a shed at 113 Central Ave. at about 4 a.m. The pit was about 3-and-a-half feet deep and 2 feet in diameter. It was covered with wood and heavy objects. Elliott was unable to speak when she was found, he said.

Elliot had several seizures as police pulled her out and worked to help her, according to Rowe.

"If we wouldn't have found her, she would be dead," she said.

Reinbolt said officers arrested the home's lone resident, 45-year-old Dennis Dunn, and charged him with kidnapping. He was apprehended with help from the Warren County Tactical Team at about 8 a.m. Dunn "came to the front door in a nonchalant manner," Reinbolt said.

A Clinton County judge set bond at $1 million for Dunn.

The Clinton County Sheriff's Office has a history of investigating incidents involving Dunn and Elliott; In October 2016, Elliott told police Dunn was sending her "harassing phone calls and text messages," but she decided not to participate in prosecution of Dunn, according to the sheriff's office.

Rowe said Dunn has "a crazy crush" on Elliot. 

"He's just got in his head," she said.

Dunn called police to his home four times this month, each time claiming intruders were trying to break in, records show.

On April 2, neighbors called police and said Dunn was in the yard of the home with a pistol. He was disarmed without incident and was involuntarily admitted to Clermont Mercy Hospital for a psychological evaluation.