Society

Two Weeks After Family Massacre, Suspects Elude Police

| by Nik Bonopartis
Members of the Rhoden family who were executed on April 22 in their homes.Members of the Rhoden family who were executed on April 22 in their homes.

Two weeks after the execution-style murders of eight members of the same family, investigators are reportedly still in the dark about who pulled the trigger and why.

A relative first discovered one of the bodies on the morning of April 22 and called 911.

"There's blood all over the house," the woman told 911 operators, per CNN. "My brother-in-law is in the bedroom. It looks like they beat the hell out of him."

Police noted that the crimes scenes indicated a methodical, well-planned murder spree, with the killer or killers taking the lives of eight people in four different houses in rural Pike County, Ohio.

The victims ranged from teenagers to adults, including 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr.; Hanna Rhoden, 19; 20-year-old Hannah Gilley;  Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44. While the adults were "methodically shot" as they were sleeping, the killer or killers did not harm three young children, including a newborn, a 6-month-old baby, and a 3-year-old boy.

Aside from their familial links, and the fact that all their homes were within a few miles of each other, authorities said there's another common element -- three of the homes were set up with sophisticated indoor marijuana grow operations.

A law enforcement source told CNN that the marijuana was not for personal use.

"It was for something much bigger than that," the source said. "It was a very sophisticated operation."

Authorities also used the word "sophisticated" to describe the carefully-executed murders. Although they've remained tight-lipped about details gleaned from the four crime scenes, investigators said the killer or killers seemed to be cognizant of how law enforcement would investigate the crime and tried not to leave evidence.

"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," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

By May 5, all the family members had been buried, and authorities had completed preliminary autopsies, WHIO reported. Police had also towed cars belonging to the family members to secure facilities for evidence processing, and detectives had sent more than 100 items to a state forensics laboratory for analysis.

Police have stopped short of saying the murders were drug-related and similarly declined to say whether cockfighting cages -- which were found at at least two of the homes -- figured into the investigation. So far, they've also been mum on possible motives.

That's not out of the ordinary for an extensive criminal investigation, University of Dayton criminal law professor Thomas Hagel told ABC News. With some 25 law enforcement agencies cooperating on the investigation, authorities are taking their time to sift through the evidence.

"The fact they have not run out and arrested someone right way is not unusual," Hagel said. "They're still building their case."

Sources: ABC News, WHIO, CNN / Photo credit: PIX11, Ohio Attorney General's Office via CNN

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