Ohio Supreme Court shields full autopsy reports in Pike County massacre

Posted at 9:46 AM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 17:45:06-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A divided Ohio Supreme Court has rejected requests for the unredacted autopsy reports from the unsolved slayings of eight family members.

The court ruled 4-3 on Thursday that the Pike County coroner does not have to release the reports with complete information.

The case involves seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family who were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon in April 2016.

Two newspapers separately sued for access to the full autopsies.

Authorities want to shield information, arguing that its release could compromise the investigation. The coroner also says victims’ relatives raised concerns about sharing details of how their loved ones died.

Kendra Rhoden, daughter of Kenneth Rhoden, said she agreed with the court's decision to hold the unredacted autopsies. 

"The court decision on not releasing them was a good choice," she said. "The autopsy reports are really no one's business." 

Tony Rhoden, Christopher Sr. and Kenneth's brother, said he hoped the ruling would help investigators focus on finding the killers. 

“Now, I hope that will let the State do their job and not have to worry about something in those reports getting out, that could jeopardize this case," he said. “My main focus is justice for my family, this family needs that, but also the people of Ohio need that also, because who ever did this is still free, and I pray to god that it won’t happen to somebody else’s family.” 

State and local authorities don't have a suspect and have remained tight-lipped about any specific progress in the case. During a news conference in April, investigators said they believed residents of Pike County were holding back information on the unsolved massacre because they were scared.