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Ohio Authorities Seek Leads in Slaying of 8 Relatives in Pike County

Sam Hendren

Authorities in Pike County are urging residents to be cautious as the search continues for whoever fatally shot eight members of a family at four different properties.  The victims found yesterday were all shot in the head; some were killed as they slept.

Residents attending Piketon’s annual Dogwood Festival were somber.  Shawn Walker says she was stunned by the deaths

“We never had nothing like this in Pike County.  It’s always been quiet,” Walker said.

Stacy Rose and Pamela Collins learned of the killings west of town around noon Friday.

“Pretty sad,” Rose said.

“Yeah, it’s just awful.  People going in and doing that to people,” added Collins.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were shot in what authorities say was “execution-style.”  The bodies were found in four rural Pike County homes.  Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said Friday afternoon that authorities were still piecing together details of the killings:

“At this time I can confirm that we have eight bodies in this county.  All were adults except for one male juvenile,” Reader said. 

Early reports stated that young children had been killed but authorities say that information was incorrect. State Attorney General Mike DeWine joined Reader for a press conference in Piketon.

“This is just, you know, it’s heart-breaking.  I mean, the one mom was killed in her bed with the four-day-old right there,” DeWine said.

DeWine sent in state investigators to assist local authorities in their investigation.  So far, DeWine says, it’s not known how many shooters are involved.

“We have one person who is armed and dangerous.  And there may be more than one.  There may be two, there may be three.  We just don’t know at this point,” DeWine said.

At the Friday press conference DeWine ruled out murder-suicide.  He says none of the fatal wounds appeared to be self-inflicted. 

“The individual or individuals who committed this crime obviously are dangerous.  We would advise people of Pike County certainly not to panic but certainly also to be careful,” DeWine said.

Authorities say the surviving Rhoden family members are receiving police protection.  Sheriff Reader says more than two dozen people have already been interviewed in the investigation.