DP&L to stick with planned June 2018 plant closings Preventing identity theft during tax season 4-H awards 11 local scholarships Peebles Elementary holds Spirit Week to prepare for AIR Testing Humane Society holding Radio Auction April 19-21 Local business partners find historical treasure in old bank building DP&L employees meet with union leadership GE-Peebles Test Operation joins the campaign about Distracted Driving North Adams Elementary recognizes February Students of the Month Senior Profile: Sydney Michael Stars will shine for the 34th annual C-103 All-Star Game NAHS Track/XC host Shamrock Shuffle 5K Associated Press names All-Southeast District Teams Senior Profile: Hannah Howard Nice to finally be a small part of March Madness The tractor has always been special Jimmy Nelson Kathryn Boldman James E Downs Manchester grad enjoys a “Super” Experience Taking Adams County patriotism to the state capitol John P Sininger Jo Ann Hayslip Harvey U Schrock Eunice G. Burgess Senior Profile: Kaulen St Michael Cox Racing returns to Brushcreek on April 2 Southern Hills Athletic Conference holds Winter Sports Awards ceremony County provides multiple walking venues Adams County parks are tobacco-free Rhoads Memorial 5K Run/Walk is April 9 Peebles Elem. Staff of the Month Floyd E Maddy Raymond A Holt Derrick Poe Spencer E McFarland Mintie F Rogers Roberta Eylar Big Time Wrestling coming to NAHS Carl Tomlin CTC students help with storm clean-up Opening the door for high-tech jobs Jack R Slyger Thomas Stratton Jr Eastern Lady Warriors headed to Final Four Senior Profile: Logan Rogers Southern Hills Athletic Conference names 2016-17 All-Conference Basketball Teams Winchester PD continues assault on drugs Alonso joins Defender staff Sheriff to set up outpost in Manchester Johnson named OEDA Membership Chairperson Sherman E Young Ruth Jackman ‘Kitten Season’ comes to Ohio Manchester Council votes to disband PD Olde Wayside Inn under new management Two overdose on heroin Senior Profile: Ethan Parrett Adams/Brown Youth League holds postseason tourney Three nights of pain Furious rally falls short, Lady Devils again eliminated in Div. III district finals, 45-42 Oscar Moore Barbara J Finnegan Ohio Senate and House honor Miss Ohio USA Michael Eldridge Frances Towner Thelma R Williamson BREAKING NEWS: Manchester council votes to eliminate police department Before all dogs go to heaven Adaptive Bikes delivered in Adams County Adams County Junior Fair Market Hog Identification plans announced for 2017 Local couple takes ownership of two local businesses Jo Hanson to retire after nearly 50 years in banking Sierra Club, hero or villain? Greyhounds, Devils are runners-up in SHAC Tournaments Harold L Purdin Senior Profile: Jacob Wickerham 98-year old author publishes first book Early March storm packs destructive punch Jeeps rally in second half to end the Peebles season How about some post season awards? Thanks for all the great sports coverage PHS Principal hopes to expand students’ world view When spring becomes a promise Greg Lorenz Clay shoots the lights out, shoots down Greyhounds’ season Senior Profile: Savannah McFarland Devils put up a good fight, but fall to Portsmouth in sectional final, 50-43 Second half comeback sends Lady Devils to district finals for third straight year Butts honored by Southeast District Athletic Board North Adams Elementary holds Random Acts of Kindness Week Chester W Eyre BREAKING NEWS: March makes its entrance with force WUES kicks off Right to Read Week with guest readers WUHS students see Aronoff show on the life of Edgar Allan Poe Local high school seniors winners of Wendy’s Heisman Awards The emotions of a senior year Market Hog Clinic scheduled for March 4 Venture Hawks fall to Scioto County Senior Profile : Colton Thornburg

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