The investigation into a spate of shootings targeted at one Ohio family will be long and arduous, but police have announced one clue in the case: drugs were found at three of the four crime scenes.
In shootings that took place Friday and shocked the Piketon, Ohio, community, eight members of the Rhoden family were shot to death execution-style, many of them in their sleep, NBC News reported.
Among the victims of the Ohio shootings are Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44. Three babies (a 4-day-old, 6-month-old, and 3-year-old) survived.
The four crime scenes have been processed, and on Sunday, authorities announced that marijuana “grow operations” were found at three. According to CBS News, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that it’s too soon in the investigation to link the shootings to the grow operations.
Grief counselors will be at Piketon HS today after the tragic death of Christopher Rhoden & 7 members of his family pic.twitter.com/bkaytc1iaI— Perry Schaible (@Local12Perry) April 25, 2016
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said that during his 20 years in law enforcement, he’d never had interactions with the family that were criminal in nature. He did, however, note that the Piketon area and Ohio in general have a drug problem.
A brother to one of the victims in the shootings, Jamie, said he just learned of his brother’s alleged involvement in drugs on Sunday. But as far as he’s concerned, that fact is irrelevant.
“It doesn’t make a difference. That doesn’t change what happened.”
Police have said that the family was clearly targeted, and investigators are scrambling to figure out who. Authorities have received more than 100 tips and interviewed 60 people. DeWine said the investigation has involved 100 personnel and the execution of five search warrants. Four crime scenes have been analyzed and 18 pieces of evidence collected, WLWT added.
“This was a pre-planned execution of eight individuals. This is not your case where somebody’s gotten mad at somebody else and shot them. There’s a witness, two witnesses. It’s a very, very different type case.”
The Ohio shootings were discovered separately by two different people, each of whom called 911. Recordings of those calls were released Saturday by Ohio’s state attorney general.
The first call came in at 7:40 a.m. from a woman who found two bodies — Charles and Gary.
“There’s blood all over the house, my brother-in-law’s in the bedroom and it looks like somebody beat the hell out of him,” the woman said, Cleveland.com reported. “I think they’re both dead.”
The second call was made by a cousin, who found a body and called 911 at 1:26 p.m.
He told a dispatcher, “All of this stuff on the news, I just found my cousin with a gunshot wound.”
Some of the family were killed while they were asleep. Hanna Rhoden was shot to death while in bed with her 4-day-old newborn, who wasn’t harmed.
The four scenes of the pre-planned shootings were close together in this small town 95 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. Two are within walking distance on an isolated road, a third a mile away, and a fourth located on a different road 10 miles away. DeWine said that investigators don’t intend to share many details about the shootings, because they don’t want to “be telling the bad guys everything that we know.”
“It was a sophisticated operation. And those who carried it out were trying to do everything that they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution.”
It’s not clear how many people were involved.
Meanwhile, the surviving members of the Ohio family, who’ve been described as hard-working and active in the community, are being told to remain alert while the killer or killers who perpetrated the grisly shootings are still at large, Reader said.
“I cautioned them that they were a target and I told them to be armed.”
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]