Police charge strangled woman's son with murder
Hilliard police have arrested 22-year-old Tyler J. Dunkle for strangling his mother, Terri L. Menendez, 44, to death earlier this week.
Officer Hyda Slone said in a release that Dunkle was arrested Tuesday, April 2, after being treated for an overdose at a local hospital.
She said he was charged with one count of murder and will be transported to the Franklin County Jail to await arraignment.
Police did not reveal any further details about the homicide, the city's first in more than two years.
Menendez was pronounced dead at 1:44 p.m. Monday, April 1, at her home at 2596 Westham Way. Dunkle was found unconscious and unresponsive in the townhome in the Hilliard Summit apartment complex at the northeast corner of Roberts and Alton Darby Creek roads.
Dunkle was transported to a hospital, where he was treated and kept under guard, police said.
The Franklin County coroner completed Menendez's autopsy on April 2.
Hilliard officers responded at 12:20 p.m. April 1 to a coworker’s request for a well-being check on Menendez, who worked as a financial adviser in Grove City.
“(Menendez) had not reported to work, and (the caller) was worried,” Slone said.
The coworker called Menendez’s absence “uncharacteristic.”
When officers arrived at her home, they said they saw nothing suspicious and observed no signs of forced entry. They left the scene but Hilliard police then received additional calls from an ex-husband and the coworker who made the original call.
“Her ex-husband called because her daughter was upset that she couldn’t (reach her mother),” Slone said.
Officers then obtained a key to the residence and discovered Menendez’s body and her son.
They later obtained a search warrant and re-entered the townhome shortly after 5 p.m. to collect evidence for the investigation.
Police were called to the same residence last fall on a report of a domestic dispute involving Menendez and Dunkle, but no charges were filed, according to reports.
Menendez called Hilliard police Oct. 8, 2012, saying her son had been assaulted at a Columbus bar and arrived home agitated.
Norwich Township medics transported Dunkle to Doctors Hospital. Menendez told police it was OK for her son to return after he was released, police said.
The homicide is the first in Hilliard since 27-year-old Donald Schlarman fatally stabbed two men inside the VIP Lounge, 3650 E. Main St., in the early morning hours of March 7, 2011.
Prior to the double slaying in 2011, the last homicide in Hilliard was in 1989.
In March 2012, Schlarman pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to 20 years to life.