Baby Dylan Groves is Found Dead at the Bottom of a Well, and This Poor Kid Never Had a Chance

On January 10, 2019, Dylan James Groves was born. 153 days later, he was found dead at the bottom of a well two miles from his home in Otway, Ohio.

Where to begin?

Because he was born with illicit drugs in his system, Dylan was removed from the custody of his parents, Jessica Groves (age 39) and Daniel A. Groves (age 41) and placed into the custody of Scioto County Children’s Services.

Lorra Fuller, the Director of Scioto County Children’s Services, told the Columbus Dispatch that after Dylan’s father, Daniel, completed several requirements, Dylan remained in the custody of her agency, but he was placed with his father on a temporary trial basis through its family reunification process. She did not give the date Dylan was given back to Daniel, citing potential damage to the investigation if she did so; however, later reports show the baby was removed from his parents’ custody on January 17 and returned to them on January 28. Daniel was initially compliant with all of the requirements Children’s Services set, but, soon afterward, he began skipping court dates, home visits, and doctor appointments.

Official POS, Daniel Groves.
(Facebook)

Children’s Services, unsuccessful in contacting or locating Daniel and Dylan, contacted the sheriff’s office on May 3. Deputies went to the Groves’ trailer home at 2241 Mount Hope Road in Otway, but no one answered their attempts to contact the family. When they returned several times over the next few weeks, they got the same result.

On May 20, however, when they made another visit to the home, authorities found Daniel and Jessica riding a four-wheeler. After a pursuit, the couple escaped into a wooded area.

Sufficiently concerned and with plenty of probable cause, detectives obtained a search warrant, which they executed on June 10. They were able to take Jessica into custody immediately, but Daniel barricaded himself inside the trailer. During the six hour standoff that ensued, during which the State Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team joined deputies at the scene, which also included a helicopter and a SWAT truck, Daniel finally surrendered without incident and was arrested.

Once in custody, according to Sheriff Mary Donini, Daniel spilled the tea: he said Dylan had been dead since late March. That’s three months the baby had been unaccounted for, for anyone not keeping score.

On June 11, investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources performed a search, complete with cadaver dogs, for Dylan. Donini said Daniel led them “on a wild goose chase,” telling them the wrong location of the body, but eventually, he gave them information that would enable them to find Dylan.

Ultimately, on the evening of June 12, the baby’s tiny, broken body was found at the bottom of a 30-foot well located on vacant property across the road from Mount Hope Bible Camp, which is about two miles from the Groves’ trailer. Fortunately, children’s summer camp had not yet started.

Satellite image showing the location of the Groves home.
(Google Maps)
Andrea Bowling giving a television interview.
(WCHS)

The next evening, a candlelight vigil was held at Faith Baptist Church in Wheelersburg, the home church of Andrea Bowling, who was Dylan’s foster mom for twelve short days after his birth. Andrea described Dylan as a sweet, loving, happy baby who would forever impact her life. “He loved being swaddled and held close, and I did that with him for 12 straight days,” Andrea reminisced with tears in her eyes. “He was just so precious and adorable. I took thousands of pictures of him in the short time I had him.” She was hoping she would eventually get him back and believes the system failed him horribly. “There need to be changes made for this system that we have. This should’ve never happened. I want Dylan’s life to have that purpose and that meaning to stop this from ever happening again.”

Andrea says the only things holding her together are the hope that this tragedy could spark positive change and her belief that she will see Dylan again. “I know he’s up there in Heaven, and I truly believe he’ll be waiting on me.”

A preliminary autopsy by Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, according to WSAZ-TV, revealed that Dylan “suffered skull fractures on both sides of his skull, a fractured left arm (broken radius, humerus and ulna), a left leg fracture, two broken left ribs, soft tissue hemorrhaging in his right chest wall and a laceration to his left arm.” Dylan’s body was sent for a full autopsy, but the results may not be known for six to eight weeks.

A grand jury found there was more than enough evidence to indict both Daniel and Jessica Groves on a buttload of charges related to Dylan’s death, including aggravated murder, murder, interference with custody (because “the child died while kept from children services”), kidnapping, endangering children, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and felonious assault.

Jessica and Daniel Groves in fashionable black and white stripes.
(WSAZ)

At a court hearing on June 17, Daniel and Jessica pled not guilty to all of the charges. The colossal gall. Attorneys for both stipulated they should be held without bond. Assistant Prosecutor Julie Cook-Hutchinson said at the hearing that initial evidence indicated Jessica was the principal offender in the case; Jessica was “visibly upset” throughout the proceeding. Aw. The poor thing.

Want more proof of what a scumbag Daniel is? At the time of his arrest for his son’s murder, he was on probation for a misdemeanor theft charge, so the judge at the June 17 hearing revoked his probation. He was also simultaneously out on bond on a separate theft case that involved two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge, including grand theft. Court documents allege Daniel cut down more than two dozen trees, valued at more than $29,000, from a state forest between September 17 and November 14, 2018. He was arrested and posted a $5,000 bond on December 10, but he was not indicted on the charges until February 14 of this year.

(WKYT)

I have to wonder if Children’s Services was aware of Daniel’s sordid legal situation when they handed the baby back to him. I’m obviously not the only one wondering, though, because on Monday, June 24, a peaceful protest took place outside the Children’s Services building in New Boston, Ohio. Community members who attended hold the belief that the agency is partially responsible for Dylan’s death and should be held accountable for placing the baby back in his father’s custody.

Protesters gather outside the Children’s Services agency.
(WCMH)

The Board of Scioto County Commissioners asked the Children’s Services Board to place Director Lorra Fuller on administrative leave pending a third-party investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dylan’s death. Commissioner Bryan Davis also requested Children’s Services immediately begin a review of the case of every child currently in county custody, because he is afraid there is “another Dylan waiting in the wings.”

On June 25, Scioto County Children Services Board went into executive session to discuss Dr. Lorra Fuller possibly being placed on leave. After 3 hours of discussion, it was decided that Fuller will remain in place pending a third party review by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services that began Monday.

After the hearing, Board officials released a statement: “At this time the Executive Director, Dr. Lorra Fuller will remain in place pending the result of the 3rd party review. We will be requesting a meeting with partnering agencies to better facilitate agency relationships to help promote the better welfare of our county’s children. We as a board care very much about children in our custody and we are deeply saddened by Dylan Groves’ tragic death.”

Meanwhile, June 25 also brought about another pre-trial hearing for Daniel and Jessica, who both waived their right to a speedy trial. The next hearing is scheduled for August 1, 2019, and the final pre-trial hearing is scheduled for September 27. The murder trial itself, which is anticipated to take four days and during which the Groves will be tried as co-defendants, will begin on October 15 in front of Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Kuhn.

Remember that search warrant from June 10? Not only did that raid lead to the arrest of Daniel and Jessica and the eventual discovery of Dylan’s body, but it also resulted in at least Daniel being charged with unrelated charges of theft and receiving stolen property. Stolen items valued at $42,000 were found on the Groves property, including two four-wheelers (one of which he was apparently trying to sell on Facebook Marketplace in February), a camper, two trailers, a utility task vehicle, and a riding lawn mower. Damn. Somebody’s got sticky fingers. Too bad they weren’t sticky enough to prevent these two schmucks from throwing their baby down a goddamn well.

Dylan’s cousin Alisha Maddy told Fox19, “I think the whole situation is horrible. We knew from the moment [Jessica] was pregnant that it was going to be something awful.” She said in a prepared statement during her interview that her family was still in shock and grieving over what happened to Dylan.

Dylan’s cousin Alisha Maddy.
(Fox19)

“We are both disgusted and devastated by what has happened in the past week, and we wish nothing more than the ultimate punishment to be given to these sick individuals, to which we have the burden of calling family,” Alisha said.

“Jessica and Daniel were not always the people you see in the mugshots on the news. They were not always the parents of a dead baby found in a well, they were normal people like you and I,” Alisha explained. She said drugs took over their lives, which is why Dylan was born with drugs in his system. “He liked to be swaddled, held close, because he constantly had the shakes, things like that, from the addiction,” Alisha said. As for Daniel completing the reunification requirements, she added, “I can’t imagine he got clean off of what drugs he was on in 12 days. Daniel and Jessica wouldn’t really allow us to be around him.”

Sweet baby Dylan Groves
(The Dreamin Demon)

The family is being criticized on social media for not intervening. “People are posting, ‘Why didn’t the family do this? Why didn’t the family do that?’ But Daniel threatened us that if we show up on their property, he would either shoot us or quote, let their dogs loose,” Alisha said.

“As his family, who loved him more than anything, anyone could even imagine, do not let him be another face of a child who had the misfortune of druggie parents,” Alisha said. “So today and every day, until there is justice, my family and I will use our voice to make sure Dylan James is not forgotten.”

Botkin Funeral Homes has agreed to cover the burial if the family can get the body released to them.

For anyone curious about what the Scioto County requirements are for family unification, they seem a bit nebulous. Scioto County boasts a “Family Reunification through Recovery” court program, less formally known as drug court. Defendants who have opted into the program are all addicts or recovering addicts who have lost or are in danger of losing custody of their children. Some are ordered to attend in-patient rehab, counseling, or transitional housing; some are sentenced to jail time, which, in some cases, may be served around the defendant’s work schedule. Some less compliant participants receive community service, and some must check in with a local sheriff’s office daily. All participants in the drug court program are drug-tested at least weekly, and at each of their weekly hearings in front of the judge, they are expected to give the judge a progress report, at which point the judge hands down case-specific instructions to the parent. It is completely at the judge’s discretion when or if the defendants’ children are returned to their custody. In this case, it’s brutally obvious that Dylan being returned to his father’s custody was the worst possible thing that could have happened to him.

The Scioto Voice published the following article on June 27, detailing the timeline of Children’s Services’ interaction with the Groves family. The article reveals that Dylan has an older brother, Daniel Jr. Another interesting tidbit is what Director Lorra Fuller apparently said when asked about filing an Amber Alert, which, if true, would explain why there has been such a public outcry about having her removed from her position.

Also, I apologize that most of the images in this post were of Dylan’s hideous criminal parents; there is a dearth of images of this sweet baby boy online.

Anyone with further information on Dylan’s case should contact Detective Jodi Conkel at 740-351-1091. All calls will remain anonymous.

Dylan with his 14-year-old brother, Daniel Jr.
(Facebook)

Click here for more of my coverage on Dylan’s case.

Sources: Portsmouth Daily Times; WXIX; WSAZ; WVAH; WCHS; WCMH; WKYT; 10TV WBNS; Fox19; The Columbus Dispatch; Justice for Dylan on Facebook

26 comments

  1. I think they could go to jail for the rest of there life for killing this baby…. It make me so dam sick seeing this on here why would they do this to a baby

      • These people will pay. In prison, you could be charged with raping and murdering a poor little 78-year-old grandma and it’s OK but if you harmed a child, you get beat, killed, or kill yourself out of fear.

      • Death penalty would be too compassionate. Death of an infant… are you kidding me? What more is deserving of the death penalty?!?!

      • Oh, I didn’t say they don’t deserve it; I just mean I don’t support capital punishment as a rule. Some people definitely deserve death (or worse), but no one deserves to be put to death despite being wrongfully convicted. Better every child killer should rot behind bars for life than a single innocent person be murdered by the state.

  2. They should never have made it to jail. What they did for o an innocent helpless baby should have been done to them ten times worse to a vey painful and slow death. Someone needs to get to them in jail. They don’t deserve to live. Now we pay for them to have free housing with ac and heat, free meals, free medical dental and optical, free education and recreation free socialization. Put them in a six by six cell with a hole for a toilet and. A blanket in the floor Nd feed them nothing but bread and water once. A day with no sunlight. Sick

  3. There is not a punishment written in the law book, that theses two should get, i dont want them to breath the same air i do.

  4. I will be the first to sign up to take couple by hand to satan (via Remington 870!) when they are found to be guilty! If the courts weren’t so coddling and justice was allowed to be public and painful this shit wouldn’t happen! Again ALWAYS presumed innocent until proven guilty (like there is any doubt) but once done give the couple to all parents who have lost a child to share their pain and grieving with ultimately killing this couple in the name of justice!

  5. Dylanbaby you are loved and not forgotten. People rise with me and stop drugs and dumbass court and rules that give drug addicts children in 12 days. Fight for Dylan

  6. Dylan I don’t know you personally but I’m sorry you had to go through that, this World is so awful, but you’re in Heaven now I believe along with the others who didn’t get a chance at a full life here, much love!

  7. Why does the system continue to fail over & over for our children?! You can read these same stories in every state, multiples in every major city, but what changes?? NOTHING.
    Courts & CPS keep thinking “reunification” with parents is best for kids…NO, NO, NO. Their own “parents” put them in this situation to begin with, so how is putting them back solving anything?
    The only reason a parent(s) wants their child back is for what that child can bring to THEM! Food Stamps -they sell, Rent Assist., Utilities Paid, Medic., but #1 is Child Support from dad or State.
    Now this couple didn’t fit this but so many DO! This couple was on drugs & I’ve seen Courts over time put kids back bc parents quit! Ha! Just quit- no program, nothing just their word. Or someone has a job NOW…but as soon as they get kids back they quit working, go back to doing drugs, are getting evicted every 6 months and now nobody is checking on kids! That is the SCAM! And it happens ALL TIME! People present a pretty present but if you open it up & examine it you’ll find it’s TOXIC.
    We need to have a Children’s Bill! They deserve protection of their rights as human beings! As it is now, they are passed back & forth thru hellish situations with parents, Family’s or Foster Care for years! They should have legal rights and not just be a “persons property” bc they gave them a ride into this world! That doesn’t automatically make them a mom, dad or horse!! Many don’t have a parenting bone in their body! Wake up!

  8. This is by far one of the worst stories I’ve read, and I not only blame the parents but I blame the state child protective services and the legal system as a whole. The baby was taken from the parents for 11 days. Really?!? 11 FUCKING DAYS. I was on drugs for a little while and while I’m not a parent I am an uncle and realized that little minds looked up to me and I quit cold turkey and haven’t touched them for quite a few years but why would CPS NOT do their job correctly and who would make the decision to give a baby back after 11 days just bc the dad completed a drug program. I would love to b a parent to a child like Dylan but so far I haven’t been blessed like that

  9. He is with Jesus now. No more suffering. Wish we could put his parents in a ring. And give them the same injuries he received. But God will take care of them one day. I am sure they will never forget what they done to a sweet angel.

  10. Sad sad if they didn’t want the baby They could have give they baby to a orphanage someone would adopt him and gave him love ever day so sad people wants to kill and not give up their child He’s a little tiny Angel now Fly high Angel Baby

  11. This is another sad story were a child was let down by the very system that is suppose to protect them. The director should be persecuted as well as the parents. Also I believe if a gynecologist has a pregnant patient that they suspect to be a drug user should have to report the patient for child abuse.

  12. I know this is probably not what ppl want to hear but I think there should be criminal charges for any woman who delivers an addicted baby. I also think that there should be more drug testing done during the time it takes from removal to reunification. I also believe that not just the Mom should be consistently tested. The Dad or male the Mom is with should also be consistently tested. (Not just urine tests).
    I am a Foster Parent & my lil guy is 4 and a half months. His 12 yr old sister has lived with me most of her life on & off. Through this time neither dad nor mom have been drug tested. Dad gets no visits due to my refusal to have him in my home. He has 2 warrants over drugs. He refused to comply with children’s services. Mom did a half ass drug program but we don’t believe the judge will accept it. Mom lied to team several times though was found to be in “good faith” so they added more supervised visit hours & gave her a waiver on child support.
    Children’s Division coddles drug addict parents & it’s counter productive! These children should be receiving all the help, compassion & concern NOT there bio parents who choose drugs over their children! There are many grandparents that are willing to go the distance for these kids & CD knows this! But that means they have to WORK. Well damn it! Do Your Jobs!

  13. They got off to easy! Oh they got life in prison so what they will get free meals, a bed, shower and that’s just not good enough! Put them in a well and let them rot!

    • Hello, Cathy! Everything written in this article was written by me and extensively researched. I tend to write in my own voice, so yes, you will find colloquial language sprinkled throughout the stories.

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