The Ohio shooting deaths of eight victims on Friday in rural Pike County were part of “a pre-planned execution,” according to a statement by Attorney General Mike DeWine at a press conference Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
In a bizarre twist, the victims of the recent Ohio shooting were all related to one another, and the investigation is already shaping up to be a lengthy one, according to initial reports released this weekend. The Friday killings took place at four separate homes near the town of Piketon in Southern Ohio in what the Attorney General called “a sophisticated operation.”
The small community has been anxious for answers since the seven adults and one teen boy were found two days ago, all killed with a single gunshot wound to the head in what is one of the most chilling Ohio shootings in recent memory.
“We don’t know whether it was one or more people involved in this,” DeWine stated Sunday. “The state crime lab is looking at 18 pieces of evidence and five search warrants have been executed.”
Authorities are confident that the Ohio shooting victims were specifically targeted, prompting Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader to advise other members of the family to remain armed and exercise caution. Since the shootings on Friday in Ohio, state and local investigators have been scrambling to figure out who might have killed the Rhodes clan and why, interviewing more than 50 people and putting together a team of nearly 40 men and women to comb wooded areas surrounding the crime scenes.
The Ohio shooting victims were identified on Saturday as 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden, Sr.; his 16-year-old son, Christopher Rhoden Jr.; 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; 20-year-old Clarence (aka Frankie) Rhoden; 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden, who was killed as she lay in bed near her newborn son, who was not harmed. Another small child and Hannah Gilley’s 6-month-old baby were also not injured in the shootings.
So far, authorities have refused to release many details about the recent Ohio shootings, including motive, the type of weapon(s) used, or the potential suspects involved, but investigators told the Associated Press that more than 100 tips have been received. In addition, Cincinnati-area businessman Jeff Ruby has placed a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to the capture and conviction of the killers.
Two of the crime scenes were within easy walking distance of one another, while the third Ohio shooting took place over a mile away, and the fourth happened on a different road about a 10-minute drive from the others. According to CNN, 911 recordings reveal a female caller telling the dispatcher there was “blood all over the house.”
On Sunday evening, ABC News also reported that authorities found marijuana growing operations at three of the four shooting locations in southern Ohio but said it was too early to tell if the marijuana had anything to do with the execution-style killings. Autopsies are expected to be completed Monday.
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