PORT CLINTON, Ohio — On Tuesday, Port Clinton police released the full police report detailing when 14-year-old Harley Dilly was first reported missing, and the proceeding investigation by officers.
New details from the report
The newly released police report reveals several details on the initial investigation that were not known until now:
- Harley was first reported missing by his father at the Port Clinton Police Department at 11:50 p.m. Saturday night, over one day after he was last seen.
- Harley’s father reported him missing because he was concerned about the length of time his son had been gone from home.
- Harley was with several of his friends Thursday night.
- On the morning of the day Harley was last seen, he tried to stay home from school and told his mother he didn’t feel well.
- Before Harley went missing, he had broken his phone and was angry because his parents would not get him a new one.
- Harley was living with ADHD and autism, according to his father.
The first report
Harley was first reported missing by his father, Marcus Dilly, just before midnight Saturday, Dec. 21, the police report reveals. Marcus Dilly went to the Port Clinton Police Department at 11:50 p.m. to report his son missing.
Dilly told police that Harley was mad because he had broken his phone and “demanded they get him a new one.” Dilly said Harley was angry because they told him that he needs to earn it.
Dilly told police there had been previous incidents where Harley wouldn’t come home from school on a Friday and wouldn’t return until Saturday morning. Dilly said he had not reported these previous incidents to police.
Police asked Dilly why he had decided to report Harley missing at midnight, and he said it was because he thought Harley had been gone too long; he had returned home in the morning other times.
Police asked Dilly if there was anything to make him think Harley was in danger. Dilly said no, aside from the length of time that he had been gone. Dilly said Harley had no history of suicidal tendencies.
Dilly also told police that Harley has ADHD and autism. He said Harley is high functioning and very smart.
Police asked if Harley would know enough to get out of the cold, and Dilly said he would, adding that Harley “was a baby when it comes to being cold.”
When police asked Dilly about Harley’s friends, Dilly named three and gave their addresses to police.
That same night, police responded to a home on 2nd Street to speak to a friend of Harley's, but were directed by the friend’s grandfather to 7th Street. They spoke to the father of the friend, who said his son and Harley were together with a third boy after school Thursday. He said the last time he saw Harley was when he was heading home and gave the address for the other boy that his son and Harley were with. He said he took his son and the other boy to a Cavs game on Friday night.
Police and Dilly went to the home where two other friends of Harley live, but there was no answer at the door.
At that time, police spoke to Harley’s mother, Heather Dilly, who suggested they check out the home of Harley’s ex-girlfriend.
She also told police that the last time she saw Harley on Friday morning, he was “trying to get out of going to school” and said he didn’t feel good. Heather Dilly said she “told him to get his ass to school,” and as far as she knew, he had left to go to school.
The third boy that Harley was with Thursday night said that he saw Harley Friday after school, the police report states. Port Clinton Police Chief Robert Hickman later explained during a news conference that the friend later realized he saw Harley Thursday after school, not Friday. Harley came by his house asking if he could go to the Cavs game as well, but he said they didn’t have any more tickets. The boy confirmed that when he saw Harley that afternoon, Harley was wearing a red coat, gray sweatpants and black tennis shoes.
Police then went to the home of Harley’s ex-girlfriend. Her father told police that he had not seen Harley in over a week.
Police went back to the house where two of Harley’s friends lived and spoke to their mother. She said she had last seen Harley Thursday playing with her kids.
Police told Marcus Dilly to return home and to contact police if he found out anything new.
The report indicates that at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the officer went to the police department and had dispatch issue a “Be On the Lookout” order for Harley.
What happened next
The police report ends there, but we know from social media posts the next steps in the search for Harley.
The next morning, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22, Heather Dilly posted about her missing son in a Facebook post that has since been removed. Later that afternoon, Port Clinton police shared that post and asked that anyone with information on Harley’s whereabouts call them.
Police spent the day Sunday conducting an extensive search of the high school and the Port Clinton area. From the beginning police said they did not suspect foul play in Harley’s disappearance.
The search continued for weeks, gaining national attention on Good Morning America and Live P.D. Port Clinton police were assisted by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. An aerial search and cutting-edge software were used to find any trace of the missing teen.
Business and individuals in the community raised nearly $20,000 for a fund for a reward for information leading to Harley’s safe return. Police confirmed that money will now go to funeral expenses for Harley and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Harley’s body found
On the night of Monday Jan. 13, Harley’s body was found trapped in the chimney of an abandoned home on the same street as the Dilly residence. Police said at a news conference the next day that it appears the death was accidental – they believe Harley climbed an antenna tower to the roof and entered the chimney. The coroner ruled Harley's cause of death as compressive asphyxia. Compressive asphyxia is when respiration is prevented by external pressure on the body.
The coroner later said that while there is no accurate forensic way to determine the exact time of death, he believes Harley likely died the same day he went missing.
What happens now
A petition has been set up on Change.org calling for the creation of “Harley’s Law,” which would legally require parents to report missing children in a timely manner.
Funeral arrangements have been made for Harley, and they include a visitation on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gerner-Wolf-Walker Funeral Home in Port Clinton.