Society

A Month Later, Cops Have No Answers In Family's Slaying

| by Nik Bonopartis
 Christopher Rhoden Jr., Christopher Rhoden Sr., Dana Rhoden, Kenneth Rhoden, Gary Rhoden, Hanna May Rhoden, Frankie Rhoden and Hannah Hazel Gilley. Christopher Rhoden Jr., Christopher Rhoden Sr., Dana Rhoden, Kenneth Rhoden, Gary Rhoden, Hanna May Rhoden, Frankie Rhoden and Hannah Hazel Gilley.

On April 22, police found eight bodies, all but one shot execution-style, and all of them members of the same rural Ohio family.

More than a month later, police don't have any solid leads to explain the rampage that almost wiped out the Rhoden family, and haven't speculated on a motive behind the crime except for a possible connection to a Mexican drug cartel.

The extended Rhoden family owned four pieces of property in rural Pike County, Ohio. In addition to the bodies of the executed family members, investigators found several marijuana grow operations -- including an indoor greenhouse where hundreds of pot plants were growing -- as well as chickens and evidence of cockfighting.

The eight victims ranged in age from 16 to 44, from teenage girls to the family patriarch, but three small children were left unharmed. Kylie Rhoden, 5, Brentley Rhoden, 3, and 6-month-old Ruger Rhoden were found in the same home where their relatives had been killed. Sophia Wagner, the daughter of one of the victims, was staying with relatives on the night of the murders and wasn't harmed, either, according to the New York Daily News.

With almost the entire family wiped out -- and victims like 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden leaving no will -- lawyers will have to navigate Byzantine legal hurdles to sort out property and asset rights, a process that could take years, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

That process will determine what happens to the now-orphaned children as well as three properties, including a 74-acre estate. Sophia and Brentley are staying with surviving relatives, the newspaper reported, while Ruger and Kylie were placed in the care of child protective services.

"This is certainly unusual. It's rare to have multiple deaths at the same time," probate attorney Bernie McKay told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "This is going to be a very complex case with a lot of attorneys."

Because of the illegal activities at the properties, the government could legally maneuver to keep the land, but a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the government's "focus is on the investigation," not the fate of the property.

The investigation is one of the most complex in the state's history, with one investigator telling the Daily News it's “like putting together a 500-piece puzzle.”

Mike DeWine, the state's attorney general, admitted authorities had little to go on.

“We have no witnesses and we have dead bodies,” DeWine observed, saying the case was like “an old-fashioned detective story.”

Sources: New York Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer / Photo credit: New York Daily News

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