Family massacre shocks residents of Piketon

By Jennifer Goetz
Nation & World Editor

On the night of Sunday, April 22, eight members of the Rhoden family were killed “execution-style” as they slept in four different homes in Piketon, Ohio, according to CNN.

In addition to their bodies, authorities discovered hundreds of illegal marijuana crops on these properties when conducting their investigation. The preliminary autopsy results were released for the eight victims and they were shot 32 times in total, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The victims were all shot more than once, except for one, and the most gunshots on a single victim was nine.

Some victims were bruised, as well, and according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a 911 caller claimed that two of the victims looked as if a person “beat the hell out of them.”

The Washington Post reported that the victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr., Kenneth Rhoden, 44, Gary Rhoden, 38, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden, 20-year-old Clarence ‘Frankie’ Rhoden, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley and 19-year-old Hannah Rhoden.

Three young children were spared, including Hanna Rhoden’s 4-day-old infant daughter and Gilley’s baby.

According to ABC News, authorities said that the deaths must have been planned in advance and the attack was a “sophisticated operation.” Attorney General Mike Dewine spoke at a news conference on Sunday, April 24, and said that the killings were a “pre- planned execution.”

ABC News reported that Dewine believes the investigation will take time. Currently, there are around 215 law enforcement officials working on this case, according to The Washington Post. The Pike County Sheriff’s office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation have received over 300 tips, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Gary Rhoden’s funeral was held in Kentucky on Thursday, April 28. Gilley’s funeral was in Otway, Ohio, on Saturday, April 30, and the six others were held on Tuesday, May 3. ABC News reported that the community is mourning the loss of the family, who no one suspected to have ties to illegal marijuana crops.

Dana Rhoden was a nursing assistant. Chris Rhoden Jr. was a student at Pike County high school. Hanna Rhoden had just taken time off of work to be with her new baby. According to CNN, Piketon, a rural Ohio community, is “tight-knit” and other residents were surprised and shocked to learn that the Rhodens had illegal crops of marijuana on their properties.

Dennis Tschudy, a Piketon resident whose 15-year-old daughter was friends with the young Chris Rhoden, told CNN, that “You would never have seen them portrayed this way.”

Pike County is split into two by U.S. 23, a north-south highway. This road is close to cities such as Cleveland, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh. These populous areas are where drug trafficking is more common, so Pike county would be a prime supplier.

This investigation is still underway and ABC News reported that authorities have yet to identify any specific suspects or any concrete motives.