Nearly a week after the bodies of eight family members were discovered in four homes in rural Pike County, Ohio, authorities are remaining tight-lipped about the details of the investigation, saying they don’t want to tip off the murderer or murderers.
“I assume that the person or the people who committed these murders are watching the news reports that are coming out of Pike County,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I do not want to broadcast any information that would let them know details about the investigation which would be helpful to them and which would … hinder our investigation.”
DeWine also said he doesn’t want to influence the thinking of potential witnesses or informants who may be able to help them solve the “execution style” killings. He says the investigators have received over 300 tips so far.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the eight victims are 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr., 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden and 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; their cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; and 20-year-old Hannah Gilley.
As the Two-Way previously reported, three children in the homes survived: a 4-day-old, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old.
DeWine did not address a possible motive for the killings but said marijuana plants had been discovered at some of the murder locations.
“It’s clear it’s not just someone growing marijuana in their backyard or in a few pots in their house. It’s a commercial operation,” he said. “Everyone can draw their own conclusions.”
The story broke Friday in rural Piketon, Ohio, about 70 miles east of Cincinnati.
At 7:26 a.m., the first 911 call came from a woman who said she had found her brother-in-law, Chris Rhoden, and another family member, Gary Rhoden, dead in a house. Before breaking into tears, the woman told the dispatcher that “there’s blood all over the house.” She said it looked like someone “beat the hell” out of her brother-in-law.
This audio clip contains language some may find offensive.
The second 911 call was made at 1:26 p.m. A man told the dispatcher that his cousin, Kenneth Rhoden, was shot.
DeWine characterized the killings as “calculated” and said those responsible were “coldblooded,” “ruthless” murders who “thought about what they were going to do.”
One victim was shot nine times, and two were shot five times each, the Pike County Coroner and Hamilton County Coroner said, according to ABC News.
DeWine declined to comment on the direction of the investigation but referred to an earlier press release that said authorities believed the suspects to be “from Mexico” and “involved in some sort of organized crime.”
“I’m not backing down from that,” he said Wednesday. “That’s what we thought at the time.”
DeWine, however, cautioned against using the word “cartel.”
“We have to be very, very careful when we label something a ‘cartel’ or an ‘organized group’ unless we actually know what it is,” he said.
The attorney general emphasized that he anticipates a “lengthy investigation.”
“It takes some time to put the pieces together,” DeWine said. “We’re going to follow the evidence.”