PORT CLINTON, Ohio — The community of Port Clinton is still on the lookout for a 14-year-old who has been unaccounted for more than two weeks.
According to Port Clinton police, Harley Dilly was last seen by his mother the morning of Friday, Dec. 20 just before 7 a.m. as he left for school.
On Jan. 11 the Port Clinton Chief of Police Rob Hickman sent a message to Harley.
"My name is Rob Hickman, I am the chief of police for the Port Clinton Police Department. Please call (419) 734-3121 and ask for me. Dispatch will then contact me to speak with you and I will personally come to get you, no matter your location," he said.
On Jan. 8, Harley's face could be seen on digital billboards around Toledo; his missing picture is featured on the billboard on the Anthony Wayne Trail and the one in downtown Toledo.
On Jan. 7, Port Clinton police released a new photo of Harley, that could help those searching for the teen identify him. The photo taken on Nov. 12, shows Harley wearing the same maroon coat he was reportedly wearing when he went missing.
Jan. 6 was a difficult day back from winter break for Port Clinton High School as the search for Harley soldiers on.
"This is certainly not something we're used to dealing with and that we ever thought we'd be dealing with," Port Clinton Schools Superintendent Pat Adkins said.
High school teachers opened up their first period class by explaining what happened to Harley, and how police are actively search for him.
“We really want to make sure that we stick to things that are factual and have been reported by our police chief Rob Hickman. And not get into some of the other things that have been on social media," Adkins said.
On Jan. 3, Adkins sent a message to parents to assure them that counseling would be available to middle and high school students when classes resumed, a promise they made good on.
The message informed parents that school system would be working with police to keep students safe on the way to and from school. But, many parents have teamed up to make sure their kids stay out of harm's way.
“I’ve seen a lot of parents that are not even letting kids walk to school, they’re kind of a lot of people are volunteering, 'Hey I’ve got a big car let’s pile in and get our kids to school safe.' Which is awesome,” Joshua Jones said, whose kids attend Port Clinton schools.
The police department announced Jan. 6 that officers would be completing aerial searches with the assistance of Texas EquuSearch, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and United States Customs and Border Protection. Department leaders asked the public to allow them to finish their aerial search before joining in to help.
Those who do plan to aid in the search for Harley are reminded not to trespass on private property unless they have permission from the owner. If you should come across something suspicious, call 419-734-3121.
“Well, I mean, if somebody knows something, somebody’s going to say something. It’s got to be terrible, I mean, I can’t imagine what the parents are going through," Brian Hockenberry, owner of Firelands Plumbers said.
The reward total has continued to rise as police ask for information on Harley's whereabouts. On Monday, the money rose to a total $17,555 after nearly $6,000 was raised by a GoFundMe page created by Fisherman's Wharf, $1,000 was donated by an anonymous source and $455 was donated by the Friends of Liberty Aviation Museum.
The entirety of the reward money has come from a variety of Port Clinton residents, businesses and groups:
- Port Clinton Police Dept. and Ottawa Co. Prosecutor James VanEerten - $2,000
- Bikers Against Abused and Neglected Children - $2,000
- Susan and James Waingrow - $1,000
- Fisherman's Wharf and BeYoutiful Hair/Nail Salon - $2,000
- Catawba Island Jewelers - $125
- RadAir Complete Car Care - $2,200
- Firelands Plumping, LLC - $500
- Dwight D. Ramsdell - $250
- Fisherman's Wharf GoFundMe page - $5,925
- Friends of Liberty Aviation Museum - $455
- Anonymous donor - $1,000
Locally, the search has expanded to digital billboards across the Toledo area like this one at Lafayette and the Anthony Wayne Trail downtown.
A nationwide search for Harley begun a few days after he was reported missing and his disappearance has continued to gain attention all over the country. Harley's story was even featured on Live PD on Saturday night.
On Jan. 4, Harley's mom, Heather Dilly, spoke to the media for the first time since his disappearance.
"The scrutiny that comes with it — nobody tells you how you are going to be bashed and your family," she said. "The biggest focus is Harley; that's the biggest thing. You know, everybody can think whatever they want and that's fine. But he is out there somewhere. You know, it's two weeks and I have to get up every day and look at that room and he is not there."
In one update on Facebook, Port Clinton police stated they have no reason to believe Harley's family is involved, as they have fully cooperated with the investigation.
They also asked that cruel comments toward the Dilly family and rumors about Harley to be left off of Facebook.
"The Dilly's entire life has been and continues to be scrutinized on social media, their ONLY concern right now is that HARLEY is returned to them safely," the post said in part.
HOW TO HELP
Police have asked for a bit more time to complete their searches before the public begins searching on their own.
"Please understand that we will be continuing to search for Harley, however I know that you want to assist as well," a spokesperson for the department said.
Port Clinton police asked citizens who live or have businesses within the city limits to check their security video footage from Dec. 19 from 3 p.m. to midnight and Dec. 20 from midnight to Dec. 21 at midnight.
Anyone with security footage from those dates and times is asked forward it to HarleyDillySurveillanceVideo@gmail.com or contact Port Clinton Police at 419-734-3121.
Police have advised that if you see Harley, do not approach him, as he does not warm up to people easily. Instead, call 911.
Search efforts from the Port Clinton police and fire departments began on Saturday, Dec. 21. The Monday following, dozens of neighbors from the area gathered to help expand the search.
"It's important the whole community come together to help find this boy; bring him home to his family," resident Krystal May said.
On Christmas Eve, the Ohio Attorney General's Office issued an Endangered Missing Child Advisory for Harley.
According to Port Clinton Police Chief Rob Hickman, there has been no Amber Alert in this case as law enforcement has found no evidence leading them to believe Harley was abducted.
The first press conference held by Port Clinton police was on Thursday, Dec. 26.
THURSDAY, DEC. 26 1:15 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE
Hickman said there have been previous calls to the residence for police. Harley's father reportedly reached out to law enforcement around one month ago, following a disagreement about an electronic device being taken away. Officers were called to help calm Harley down.
When asked if Harley had run away before, Hickman stated that his typical behavior is that if something is wrong, he will leave for the night. He has a few friends in town that he stays with and officers have talked to those friends. However, it is not typical for Harley to be gone for more than a night or two.
Harley also has a sister who lives out of state. Authorities have talked to her and her home has been searched. They have found no evidence that he has made it to his sister's or that he was even trying to get there.
Police have conducted their search with assumption that Harley is alive.
"Until I hear otherwise, he's scared. He doesn't want to come home because he thinks he's in trouble. Nobody is going to change my mind until I hear otherwise," Hickman said at one press conference.
PCPD searched the Dilly family's residence and used a cadaver dog to go through the home and family cars.
THURSDAY, DEC. 26 3 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE
On Dec. 26, officers looked east of Fulton Street, at a range of 150 acres that are both wooded and farmland. The search area was split up into six zones. By 5:30 p.m., law enforcement had cleared all six zones.
THURSDAY, DEC. 26 5:30 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE
The zones were located south and east, away from the school. According to Hickman, police found no evidence that Harley set out toward the school that morning. Instead, photos demonstrate Harley heading south from his home.
FRIDAY, DEC. 27 3 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE
On Friday, Dec. 27, Ottawa County residents were asked to leave lights om at night. The department had hoped to get word out to Harley that he could safely go to any home with the light on.
Port Clinton residents were also encouraged to check home security cameras for anyone that looked like Harley.
Hickman stated that air units searched all over Port Clinton. The shoreline was searched as well as the 150 acres near Harley's home.
The search had mostly stayed local up until that point, however, the police chief confirmed on Dec. 26 that the search had gone national.
Tips have been coming in from across the country. Hickman said that agencies in those jurisdictions are helping to follow up on those leads.
Reporters pressed Hickman at the briefing on why it took six days before the first news conference in the case. He said that the parents didn't report Harley missing for 48 hours, and the department wanted to first review all video before addressing the media.
SATURDAY, DEC. 28 3 P.M. PRESS CONFERENCE
Port Clinton Police Chief Rob Hickman previously announced that his department would provide daily briefings at 3:00 p.m. "until Harley is returned."
However, police have since changed this policy, stating that updates would be solely provided on the Port Clinton Police Department Facebook page until a major update occurs in the case.