Two days after eight members of the same family were brutally murdered in Ohio, there is still little information about who did it or why. Authorities have not yet named a suspect and have yet to say how many people may have been involved.
However, they did provide an update late this afternoon and revealed, among other things, that they’d discovered marijuana “grow operations” at three of the four homes where the murders took place.
They also warned residents “to be armed” if they felt in danger.
Via Fox News:
The execution-style murder of eight Ohio family members Friday was “methodical and well-planned,” officials said Sunday, revealing the investigation had uncovered three marijuana growing operations — while also warning residents who felt they were in danger to “to be armed.”
The deceased were found on four rural Ohio properties, shot to death. Most were apparently sleeping when they were killed. Three young children — including a 4-day-old infant — were also found unharmed at the crime scenes.
“This was a preplanned execution of eight individuals,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “It was a sophisticated operation. And those who carried it out were trying to do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution.
“This is not your case where someone got mad at somebody else, shot him, there’s a witness, two witnesses. It’s a very, very different kind of case.”
They said none of the victims died from a suicide.
All the victims identified Saturday were members of the Rhoden family: 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 “Frankie” Rhoden; 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden.
DeWine said a force of at least 100 investigators had already received more than 100 tips and conducted more than 50 interviews. Five search warrants had been executed and the four crime scenes had been evaluated and secured. DNA technicians were currently examining 18 pieces of evidence at a state crime lab.
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said he advised other members of the “targeted” Rhoden family that they could be in danger and advised them to be armed.
DeWine initially “would not comment” on whether drugs were involved, but eventually revealed that marijuana grow operations had been uncovered in three locations.
Pastor Phil Fulton, of the Union Hill Church, described the Rhodens as a close-knit and hardworking family. He said they were previously part of his congregation, though not recently. He said a crisis resource team was at the church to work with the family.
The family also urged anyone with information to call 1-855-BCI-OHIO.
While authorities may not yet be ready to confirm anything, the discovery of marijuana grow operations in these locations certainly reinforces what many of us suspected — that this horrific mass murder, which seemed to have purposely excluded the youngest children, may be drug related. The “methodical, well-planned” execution style of the murders would also seem to point to that — versus a disgruntled domestic situation.
Authorities cautioned the investigation could be lengthy.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associated Editor]