Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard man accused of murdering his mother

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Tyler J. Dunkle strangled his mother Friday, March 29, at their Hilliard home and two days later tried to kill himself by taking pills and drinking alcohol, Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Marla Farbacher said last week.

Dunkle, 22, of 2596 Westham Way, is accused of killing Terri L. Menendez, 44.

Hilliard police arrested Dunkle at Doctors Hospital on April 2 and charged him with one count of murder.

He confessed to strangling his mother during an interview, Hilliard police said.

Dunkle was arraigned April 3 in Franklin County Municipal Court by Judge Anne Taylor. Taylor set his bond at $1 million. She also set a preliminary hearing date for 9:30 a.m. April 12.

Farbacher told the court April 3 that Dunkle strangled Menendez on March 29 at their townhouse, hid her body in a closet and then drove her car to his hometown of Chillicothe.

She did not say why Dunkle went to Chillicothe or what he did there.

Dunkle apparently attempted suicide with pills and alcohol when he returned to Hilliard on Sunday, Farbacher said.

Hilliard officers responded at 12:20 p.m. Monday, 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," Hilliard officer Hyda Slone said.

The coworker called Menendez's absence "very uncharacteristic."

When officers arrived at her home, they saw nothing suspicious and observed no signs of forced entry. They left the scene, but Hilliard police then received additional calls from her second ex-husband -- Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. William R. Menendez -- 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.

Family members were concerned because they had not heard from Menendez during the weekend, including Easter Sunday, Slone said.

Hilliard officers then returned and obtained a key to the residence.

They found Dunkle unconscious and unresponsive and discovered Menendez's body on a bed, Farbacher said.

Menendez was pronounced dead at 1:44 p.m. April 1.

Dunkle, who graduated from Chillicothe High School in 2009 and is Menendez's son from her first marriage, was involved in a domestic dispute with his mother last fall, but no charges were filed, according to police reports.

Menendez called Hilliard police Oct. 8, 2012, saying Dunkle had been assaulted at a Columbus bar and arrived home agitated, throwing things and acting out violently.

Norwich Township medics transported Dunkle to an area hospital.

After he was released, police said, Menendez told officers he could return to their townhome in the Hilliard Summit apartment complex at the northeast corner of Roberts and Alton Darby Creek roads.

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.

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