A father was found dead in a Springfield park Tuesday after his ex-girlfriend called 911 to report their son and another boy were bound with zip ties by unknown intruders at the father’s Huber Heights home.
The 911 caller said her 14-year-old son said his father left the Shull Road house in Huber Heights around 11 the night before and didn’t return.
Hours later the woman said her son and the other boy were tied up by two men — one with a mask, one without — around 4 a.m.
The boys broke free around 8:30 a.m., uninjured except for marks on their skin where the zip ties were fastened.
“The house is a mess,” the woman said in the 911 call. “They untied themselves and called me.”
Around 9 a.m., about 19 miles away, groundskeepers found the father, Cedric Holt Jr., 34, of Huber Heights, in Springfield’s Virgil Mabra Park.
“My partner and I are over here mowing grass at Mabra Park on the south end off of Oakley,” the caller said. “There is an automobile tucked all the way in the back by the walking trails by the Boy Scouts bridge. Doors are open, someone’s in there.”
The death is considered suspicious, the coroner’s office said. The cause and manner of death were not yet determined.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to assist in Springfield police’s investigation.
In her 911 call, the boy’s mother gave dispatchers her son’s name and date of birth — details this newspaper checked against a database of Ohio birth certificate data to determine Holt is the boy’s father.
Law enforcement officials and Holt’s attorney declined comment Tuesday afternoon.
Ohio birth records show the Huber Heights 911 caller and Holt had four children together. Tuesday’s incident is not the first time Holt and his children were the subject of law enforcement inquiries, according to archival news coverage and court records.
In 2013, Holt was playing dice in Virgil Mabra Park — also known as Rose Park — when two men pulled up to his car, pointed a semi-automatic weapon at him, handcuffed him and made him get in the back of their car, police said at the time.
Police said during that incident, one of Holt’s children walked home from school to find Holt being held with a gun to his head while the men demanded money. The boy said his father told him to run after the men pointed a gun at the boy, then the men forced Holt back into their car, according to police.
Holt then took the men to a storage unit, where he told them he had some money stored, according to police. Investigators said the men took thousands of dollars from the storage unit then abandoned the man.
This year, Holt was found guilty of a January domestic violence charge involving his 16-year-old son, according to an affidavit. A child endangerment charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement, according to court records.
In that incident, Holt was accused of repeatedly punching his son’s body while filming the incident on the boy’s Snapchat.
A Springfield man who declined to give his name but said he knew Holt described a generous man.
“Cedric is a good dude, he would give you the shirt off his back,” the man told News Center 7. “He is the No. 1 dad … he never left his kids home alone.”