Authorities arrest Florida woman in slaying of Cleveland resident at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Florida woman was charged Thursday in the slaying of a Cleveland resident who was found dead in March in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Chelsea Perkins, 31, of Pensacola is accused of murder in the death of Matthew John Dunmire. She was arrested on a case filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. A defense attorney is not listed for her in court records.

She was charged federally because the death took place in a national park.

Dunmire, 31, was found by hikers March 9 in the woods near the Terra Vista Natural Study Area, which is located on Tinkers Creek Road, just east of Canal Road. He died of a gunshot to the head.

An FBI affidavit says Perkins’ DNA was found on Dunmire and a water bottle near his body.

The affidavit says Dunmire was out with friends at a bar in Hudson on March 5 when he left to meet a girl, who he said was staying in the area for the weekend. He and a colleague left the bar and walked out to see the woman driving a white Smart Car.

Surveillance video captured the license plate, and authorities tracked the car to Perkins’ husband, a member of the military, according to the affidavit. At the time, she lived in Arlington, Virginia. Other video indicated Dunmire was with Perkins, who was dressed in a black clothes with black knee-high boots.

The two drove to an Airbnb on Ashbury Avenue in Cleveland. Perkins had made the reservation that day, March 5, the FBI affidavit says. The document suggests that the two knew each other, and the meeting was not random.

Dunmire had said in a text the next day that he had planned to donate plasma and return to his apartment. Authorities, using GPS data, tracked his phone to the Terra Vista National Study Area at the park.

At 10:29 a.m., Dunmire sent a text saying, “OK. I’ll see you in a little while,” the affidavit says.

A couple hiking in the woods said they encountered a woman in the woods, dressed in black clothes and knee-high boots, the document says. The woman claimed she was lost, and she appeared confused and expressed no emotion, according to the affidavit.

A second couple, who also was hiking in the area, said they heard a gunshot between 11:30 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., the affidavit says. They noticed a white Smart Car parked nearby.

Authorities later determined Perkins continued from Cleveland to a tattoo shop outside of Detroit.

Federal agents later seized three pistols during a search of Perkins’ home. A ballistics report determined the markings on the bullet that killed Dunmire had similar characteristics as those fired from two Springfield Armory pistols officers seized from her home, according to the FBI affidavit.

It is unclear what transpired between the time authorities had searched Perkins’ home and her arrest in Florida.

Christin Hakim

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