DeWine tight-lipped about Pike Co. massacre

Posted at 2:49 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 17:28:28-04

CINCINNATI – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he's confident last month's Pike County massacre will be solved but he released no new details about the investigation at a news conference at his Cincinnati office Tuesday.

"In my opinion, it will be solved, but it's a slow process," DeWine said. "When you don't have witnesses, when you only have a body – in this case, eight bodies - it takes time."

DeWine said the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigations is making this case priority No. 1.

"It's the most important case going in the state and we're going to continue to treat it like the most important case. On any given day, we've got 20 investigators from BCI in Pike County," DeWine said.

DeWine said his goal was not just to find the killers. "Our goal is convictions. We want convictions out of this horrible, horrible tragedy," he said.

DeWine asked the public to provide any video that may include clues about the killings. He specifically mentioned views of nearby roads on April 21-22 in the night before and morning of the killings.

RELATED: Authorities ask public for videotape that may be useful in the investigation.

But DeWine refused to discuss anything new about the investigation or possible motives, saying to do so could harm the investigation.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were shot and killed execution-style in their homes during the early morning hours of April 22, authorities said. In the 18 days since, there have been no arrests and no indication that investigators have any leads.

"Right after this happened I said it would take time," DeWine said. "It's literally like putting a puzzle together. At some point, you start seeing a picture."

DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader have revealed that:

> Marijuana grow sites built for sale and distribution were found at three of the four killing sites.

> One victim was shot nine times, one was shot once, and the others were shot multiple times.

DeWine previously declined to confirm or deny rumors that a Mexican drug cartel may have targeted the Rhodens. Other speculation includes a possible family feud, a dispute among a cockfighting ring, and Facebook threats against the youngest victim, 16-year-old Christopher. DeWine said he saw roosters at one of the homes.

“We do not want to give the killers, or killer, any indication of where this case is going and what information we have or do not have,” DeWine said previously.

The eight people killed were: Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Clarence Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

Seven of the victims were found in three Union Hill Road homes in Piketon, while the eighth was found within a 10-minute drive from the others. Most of them were executed in bed.

Three children - a 4-day-old, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old - were found unharmed at the scenes.

The killing scenes could be released as early as this week, Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said Friday. Junk told reporters at WBNS that when that happens, the homes would be boarded up to prevent looting.

DeWine, a former prosecutor,  said Tuesday it is important to "continue to maintain the security of the scenes."

"Sometimes you get new information and you have tp go back and look at the scene again," he said.

Junk said he believes more than one person is responsible for the shootings.

Search warrants at the four crimes scenes are also expected to be returned this week, WBNS reported. But Junk said those would be sealed to prevent evidence from being released to the public that could harm the investigation.