Florida woman arrested for murder of man who was found shot to death in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Victim Matthew John Dunmire
Victim Matthew John Dunmire(Source: Provided to WOIO)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 12:32 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2021 at 1:07 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Federal agents took a woman into custody in Florida for the murder of a man who was found dead in a national park in Northeast Ohio.

The FBI and multiple Northeast Ohio law enforcement agencies announced on Thursday that 31-year-old Chelsea Perkins, of Pensacola, Fla., was arrested and charged with the murder of Matthew John Dunmire.

According to investigators, Dunmire’s body was discovered by a group of hikers in the morning hours of March 9, 2021. He was suffering from a fatal gunshot wound to the back of his head near the “Terra Vista Cemetery” in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Federal court records state that on March 5, Dunmire told his coworkers just days before his murder that he was planning to meet a woman who was staying in the area over the weekend. He was picked up by a woman with brown hair in a small white or silver car from the bar he was at with coworkers later that evening.

Investigators reviewed Dunmire’s GPS information and surveillance videos from around Northeast Ohio after his death, eventually being able to track the car he was picked up in. It was owned by a member of the United States Coast Guard from Arlington, Va., according to the FBI. His wife was identified as the suspect Perkins. She also matched the description provided by Dunmire’s coworkers.

It was also discovered that an Airbnb listing in Cleveland was reserved and paid for by a credit card belonging to Perkins.

Perkins’ Facebook account revealed messages where she said she was in Cleveland at that time and planned to travel to Michigan the next day for a tattoo.

GPS data from March 6 tracked Dunmire’s phone to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the eventual scene of his murder.

According to the federal criminal complaint, a pair of hikers who were interviewed said they thought it was suspicious that a woman on the trail was not dressed in proper attire. She matched Perkins’ description.

“Another couple, “Couple 3,” interviewed but not identified herein, was hiking near the Terra Vista Study Area on March 6, 2021, where they encountered a young woman in the woods. She told Couple 3 that she was looking for the cemetery and became lost. Couple 3 found it odd that the woman was not dressed in hiking attire; rather she was wearing all black clothing, black knee-high boots, and a black hoodie. Couple 3 further described the woman as having dark shoulder length hair. Couple 3 also stated that the woman seemed confused and expressed no emotion. Couple 3 stated that they walked with the woman a short distance until their path split. Couple 3 reported that the woman headed toward the direction of the cemetery.”

Perkins’ DNA evidence was collected from Dunmire’s pubic area and fingernails, the FBI said.

A search warrant was conducted at Perkins’ Virginia home on March 30 where three handguns were recovered.

The bullet collected from Dunmire’s head during the medical examiner’s autopsy matched one of the guns that was taken during the search.

Perkins was arrested on Thursday morning at her Florida home without incident. She is expected to make her initial appearance in a Florida federal court.

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