Ryan, Sowards lead Lady Indians to easy win in season opener, 57-36 over Felicity Senior Profile: Wes Hayslip Justice off to hot start at VSU County boys’ squads on display in annual SHAC Preview Night ‘Operation Christmas Child’ collects 1,707 shoe boxes for needy children Two animal cruelty cases investigated in Adams County DP&L considers closing power-generating plants in county Holiday spirit makes an early appearance in Adams County Chester A Mann Jeffrey A Daley Sr Michael G Tincher DAR sponsors Good Citizen Award Ohio’s young hunters harvest nearly 6,000 deer during Youth Gun Season Senior Profile: Kayle Thomas Helen N Hiestand Rev Walter R Egnor Sr Betty Beam Jamie L Corrill Jeffrey L Heppard Edsel L Massey Jr It is time to stop and take time to give thanks on a special day Another year to be very thankful for Senior Profile: Savannah McCoy McCoy signs to continue golf career at SSU North Adams hosts SHAC Girls Preview DAR commemorates 50th anniversary of Vietnam War Historical Society honors veterans Star Wars routine leads Fancy Free Cloggers to ‘America’s Got Talent’ A Day at the Opera Eagle Creek draws community to Thanksgiving celebration Ward ekes out victory over Worley in county commissioner race Mary A Garman Ronald L Palmer Joseph S McClanahan II Emma O Hayslip Devils slip by Georgetown in Foundation Game Hupp, Hunter, Wolke named OSSCA Second Team All-State Senior Profile: Kain Turner Lady Devils romp in Foundation Game Oh, those aromas coming from Mom’s kitchen What Became My Biggest Project Deer gun season set to begin ‘Trees to Textbooks’ shares revenues with local schools and communities BREAKING NEWS Winchester’s Baxter wins Miss Ohio USA 2017 pageant Genny Elkins Pauline S Stevenson Donald E Lewis Sr Charlotte R Seaman Ruth Prater Bennie Skaggs Gertrude Swayne West Union High School hosts impressive Veterans Day ceremonies Peebles Elementary hosts ceremony to honor local veterans Duke Energy exits Killen and Stuart Plants GE Aviation hosts annual Veterans Day celebration Senior Profile: Logan Gordley Jeffrey A Brown Sr Peebles Library welcomes local author and survivor on Nov. 19 Homer C Eldridge Robert W Schomberg One Commissioner race too close to call in unofficial count Voters approve majority of county levies on Tuesday’s election ballot NAES Sixth Graders practice the democratic process Honoring one who gave the ‘last full measure of devotion’ Overcoming adversity, veteran of Iraq War opens local business Senior Profile: Ben Figgins Senior Profile: Macy Mullenix SHAC Basketball Previews are set for Nov. 18 and 25 Trio of local golfers finish careers with trip to the highest level of high school competition Peebles sophomore Jenny Seas finishes sixth in OHSAA state cross-country meet Upset win sends Trump to the White House ACRMC awarded plaque for 50 years of service Peebles Elementary releases Honor Roll for First Nine Week Grading Period BREAKING ELECTION NEWS! Senior Profile: Jordyn Kell Orlie H Kirker Military homecoming at NAES Second half spells doom as Greyhounds fall to Hillcrest 42-12 in finale Senior Profile: Sarah McFarland WU’s Horton will continue golf career at SSU Lady Devils’ season ends in heartbreak with 3-2 loss in District championship battle Christine R. Ritchey Operation Christmas Child begins Nov. 14 Mental Health levy on tomorrow’s ballot Wanda L. Nixon David Rogers Robert “Bobby” Leonard Keneth Waters Commissioner Worley seeks re-election Republican challenger vies for Commissioner’s seat Charles Cooper Thelma J White Kayleigh L Crothers AEP Ohio employees support Breast Cancer Awareness Month WUHS holds annual Beta Club and Honor Society inductions When Saturday mornings belonged to the kids of the house Senior Profile: Gloria Purdin Green-White Night, OHSAA Meeting at WUHS on Nov. 9

Apprehension fuels rumors in Pike County murder case

A memorial to the Rhoden family was placed at the intersection of Union Hill Road and State Route 32. Photo by Patricia Beech
A memorial to the Rhoden family was placed at the intersection of Union Hill Road and State Route 32. Photo by Patricia Beech

Officials remain tight-lipped about investigation details

By Patricia Beech

Rumors and speculations have continued to mount in Pike County as the investigation into the Rhoden family murders continues without any conclusive answers from investigators.

News of a commercial-size marijuana-grow operation at three of the crime scenes has fueled speculation about connections to a Mexican drug cartel. On his radio talk show Tuesday Bill Cunnigham of 700 WLW suggested that rural counties like Piketon serve as smuggling routes for cartel operations in Dayton, Cincinnati and other surrounding metropolitan areas.

Speculation about a cartel role in the murders was ramped up Tuesday by rumors that the corpse of the eighth victim, Kenneth Rhoden, was found with money “strewn from his knees down giving some validity to the idea that the execution-style killings were the work of hit men hired by a Mexican cartel.” Rhoden’s body was discovered by his cousin Donald Stone. Officials refused to confirm or deny the story, even though they have called the killings sophisticated and well-planned.

Leonard Manley, Dana Rhoden’s father, also questioned why the two pit bulls at the Union Hill property failed to alert the victims. He told Channel 10 Live, “Whoever done it had to know the family because there were two dogs there that would eat you up.” Manley said he believed the assailants must have been familiar with the dogs.

The coroner’s report released Tuesday provided new details about the shooting deaths. Autopsies revealed that most of the victims were shot three to nine times and some had mild to severe bruising. The three women, four men, and 16-year-old boy had gun shot wounds to their heads, torsos, and other body parts. One victim was shot once, another had two gun shot wounds, and the rest had three or more.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said Wednesday that investigators have received more than 300 tips and are still serving search warrants, but would give no information about the number or locations. He said 79 pieces of evidence have been sent to a state crime lab for DNA and fingerprint analysis.

Ohio and Pike County authorities are leading the investigation, with help from more 215 law enforcement personnel including county sheriffs from as far away as Lake Erie. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are also assisting. Despite the overwhelming law-enforcement response, no arrests have been made and officials are tight lipped about possible suspects.

“I assume that the person or people who committed these murders are watching the news reports that are coming out of Pike County,” DeWine said, “I do not want to broadcast any information that will let them know details about this investigation which would be helpful to them and which would hinder our investigation.”

After visiting the crime scenes Wednesday, DeWine said the priority is to get convictions, not just arrests.

“It’s a case that will eventually have to be prosecuted in court,” he said, “As much as we would like to share information with the public, we have no intention of doing anything that can jeopardize this case.” He said they were determined to get what everyone wants, “Justice for the victims.”

The Union Hill Church has been a gathering place for family and friends since the slayings in Pike County last Friday. The church is within three miles of the murder scenes on Union Hill.
The Union Hill Church has been a gathering place for family and friends since the slayings in Pike County last Friday. The church is within three miles of the murder scenes on Union Hill.  Photo by Patricia Beech

DeWine said that visiting the crime scenes gave him a frame of reference for looking at the case, “You think just a few days ago, there was a family living here, if we need to be reminded of the gravity of the situation, that brings it home.”

Refusing to confirm or deny multiple speculative questions at Wednesday’s press conference, he acknowledged there are several potential scenarios and possibilities, but said he did not intend to shoot down every single rumor.

Officials have received over 30o tips during the week-long investigation. DeWine said there was concern about polluting the thinking of potential informants: “We do not want to suggest the investigation is going in any particular direction,” he said. “That information could in fact influence tips and information that we might receive.”

He said investigators do not want to give the killer or killers any indication of where the investigation is going, or what information they have or do not have.

“As more facts come in, you can make educated guesses,” the Attorney General told reporters Wednesday, but our job is not to make educated guesses, our job is to find out the truth. We’re not only seeking convictions, ultimately what we’re about today is finding the truth. The people of Pike County have a right to know the truth, the victims family has a right to know the truth, and they have a right to have these people brought to justice. That is our focus.”

Attempting to dispel rumors and reassure anxious Pike County residents, Sheriff Charles Reader cautioned that only the information coming directly from his office or the Attorney General should be considered verified.

He said that since the murders his office has ten times its normal manpower: “I want to assure my county citizens that we are stepping it up to make sure that everything is going to be okay.”

Reader confirmed his office would provide whatever security was needed during the family funerals.

Family cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38 was buried Wednesday in South Shore, Ky., the Crockett L. Reed Funeral Home presided. Kenneth Rhoden, 44 will be interned at Mound Cemetery in Piketon next to his son who succumbed to cancer.

Services for Hannah Gilley, fiancee of “Frankie” Rhoden is scheduled for Saturday, April 30. Arrangements were handled by The Botkin Hornback Funeral Home in Waverly, interment was at the Hackworth Hill Cemetery.
The visitation for Christopher Rhoden Sr. 40, Dana Rhoden 37, Christopher Rhoden Jr. 16, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden 21, and Hannah Rhoden 19, will be conducted by the Roger W. Davis Funeral Home in West Portsmouth on Monday, May 2 from noon-4 p.m. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, May 3 at noon at the Dry Run Church of Christ on SR 73/104.

Funds to help the family with funeral expenses may be donated at any Fifth Third Bank, at First State Bank in Peebles, or sent directly to the Roger W. Davis Funeral Home at 1310 3rd St., West Portsmouth, Ohio 45663.

Call 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446). if you have any information about the case.

4 comments:

  1. I’m not from the area nor even Ohio but am following this situation very closely because I truly want the perpetrator(s) caught to face the full wrath of justice. How could anyone just so methodically go from house to house and slaughter human beings without hesitation like that? This vicious person or people is/are nothing more than evil, demonic, depraved animal(s) who deserve(s) what is coming to them. The apparent marijuana and cockfighting stuff is for another day…catching this disgusting butcher needs to be the total focus right now. Condolences to the families.

  2. Why have investigators been so successful at not leaking knowledge about even one bit of evidence, of the murders and yet talked freely about the pot and roosters??? Why even mention that?? Was it absolutely necessary to hurt the families even more?

  3. I too am following this case, as I am praying for Justice to be delivered harshly and swiftly to these barbarians that committed this malicious act. In my opinion, I believe law enforcement do have their suspect(s), but are being extremely smart and cautious in reference to the amount of information that is released,,,and rightfully so. Prayers to all, and also the law enforcement officers working diligently on this case. God speed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2016 People's Defender