Authorities Arrest Florida Woman in Murder of Cleveland Resident at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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

Chelsea Perkins, 31, of Pensacola, is charged with murder in the death of Matthew John Dunmire. She was arrested in connection with a case filed in United States 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 on March 9 in the woods near the Terra Vista Natural Study Area, located on Tinkers Creek Road, just east of Canal Road. He died from a bullet in the head.

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

The affidavit states that 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 came out to see the woman driving a white Smart Car.

Surveillance video captured the license plate and authorities located the car to the husband of Army member Perkins, according to the affidavit. At the time, she was living in Arlington, Virginia. Another video indicated that Dunmire was with Perkins, who was dressed in a black outfit with black knee-length boots.

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

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

At 10:29 am, Dunmire texted, “OK. I will see you shortly, ”the affidavit states.

A couple hiking in the woods said they encountered a woman in the woods, dressed in black clothes and tall 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 were also hiking in the area, said they heard a gunshot between 11:30 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., according to the affidavit. They noticed a white Smart Car parked nearby.

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

Federal agents then seized three pistols during a search of Perkins’ home. According to the FBI affidavit, a ballistics report determined that the marks on the bullet that killed Dunmire had characteristics similar to those drawn by two officers from Springfield Armory pistols seized from his home.

It is not known what happened between the time authorities searched Perkins’ home and his arrest in Florida.

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