© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Authorities Narrow Focus In Pike County Killing Investigation

Authorities set up roadblocks at the perimeter of one of four properties near Piketon, Ohio following the murders of the Rhoden family on June 21, 2016.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

The investigation into the unsolved killings of eight Ohio family members nearly two years ago remains focused on a family of four that left the state for Alaska, according to a prosecutor.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk also told the Cincinnati Enquirer for a story on Friday that two agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and a member of the Pike County Sheriff's Office work full-time on the case.

"One of these days, if and when somebody is charged, there's a lot of things that would be public that can't be made public now," Junk told the newspaper. "There are some things that could clear this up for you in about two seconds but I really can't say anything because the investigation is still going on."

The slayings happened two years ago Sunday, stunning the largely rural community. The case before the court involved seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family who were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon in southern Ohio on April 22, 2016.

The family of four that moved to Alaska were long-time friends with the Rhodens. They have never been named as suspects and their attorney says they weren't involved.

Authorities in the past have said they suspected multiple attackers who were familiar with the victims' homes and the surrounding area about 70 miles south of Columbus. The motive remains a mystery.

Redacted autopsy reports show most victims were shot multiple times. The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer separately have sued for access to the full final autopsies.

The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said one of the victims, Christopher Rhoden Sr., had "a large-scale marijuana growing operation," leading some to speculate the killings were drug-related or even connected to Mexican drug cartels.

Other victims in the massacre included Christopher Rhoden's ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr. and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden; Frankie Rhoden's fiancee, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.

The last victim to be discovered, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden, who was the brother of Christopher Rhoden Sr., died of a single gunshot. Three children were found unharmed.