Authorities are investigating whether or not a Mexican drug cartel was responsible for executing an Ohio family of eight April 22.
Police explain they are increasingly finding evidence tying the family’s isolated farms nearby to the drug cartels, pointing out that three of the four crime scenes held marijuana plants, the New York Daily News reports.
"It wasn't just somebody sitting pots in the window," said Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.
Adding further suspicion is the fact that in 2012, police seized more than 1,200 marijuana plants with suspected ties to Mexican drug cartels only five miles away from the Rhoden family farms.
However, officials say they are also still not ruling out a family feud as a possible motive for the murders.
Regardless of who the suspects are, police say they believe this was a pre-planned execution.
Meanwhile, autopsy results released April 26 reveal all but one of the eight members of the Rhoden family died from multiple gunshot wounds, with one victim being shot nine times,
Some of the victims were also beaten before being killed.
According to Dr. Stuart Bassman, a Cincinnati-based trauma and sexual assault counselor, athorities say these newfound insights revealing multiple gunshots will help them get closer to finding the killers, reports WCPO.
“The typical thinking is that when someone shoots someone a number of times, it’s done out of anger. But in other instances we have to look at the fear, the threat,” he said. “It’s almost a way of someone getting insurance. Though some people conceptualize this as an act of anger, an act of rage, in one instance it could be an act coming out of fear.”
The fact the killers spared the lives of the youngest children -- ranging from a few days to 3-years-old -- also is revealing, authorities say.
“[The shooters] in one sense distort their thinking to justify and rationalize their behavior,” Bassman said of cases like these. “In the person’s mind, there’s a sense of saying, ‘But I’m saving the baby.’”
The family members range in ages, with one of the victims only 16-years-old and another 19-years-old.
All of the others killed were adults.
Police are asking anybody with further information to call 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or 740-947-2111.