Posted by News Express | 23 April 2016 | 2,059 times
Eight family members were shot “execution-style” in four different homes in southern Ohio, some while they were still sleeping in their beds, authorities said, warning that their killer is probably still on the loose.
When deputies arrived at the various crime scenes, they found two babies and one toddler left alive, officials said. The youngest of the three children – a 4-day-old baby – was still in bed with her mother when her mother was shot and killed, investigators said. The two other child survivors were 6 months old and 3 years old.
The eight killed – seven adults and one 16-year-old boy – were all shot in the head. They belonged to the same family, named Rhoden, and lived within miles of each other.
Pike County Sheriff Charles S. Reader warned residents to be careful, saying there is a strong possibility that the shooter or shooters were not among the deceased and are still on the loose and are armed and dangerous.
In earlier statements Friday, authorities said that the situation did not involve an active shooter, but in a news conference Friday afternoon, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said none of the eight dead appeared to have committed suicide, “so obviously we have one person who is armed and dangerous and maybe more than one.”
Reader said authorities are trying to track down all other members of the Rhoden clan to make sure they are safe. “We are taking every precaution,” he said.
Authorities have not individually identified those killed, but neighbors and relatives said the members of the Rhoden family who lived where the shootings happened included Dana Rhoden, her ex-husband, their adult children and grandchildren.
“They all used to attend our church,” said Phil Fulton, pastor of the nearby Union Hill Community Church. Dana Rhoden worked at a nursing home for the elderly, he said. She had just bought a new mobile home near two other trailers where the shootings took place — one occupied by her ex-husband and the other by her son and her son’s girlfriend, Fulton said.
Neighbors and relatives said the ex-husband was one of those killed. When asked whether the ex-husband may have killed the family and then killed himself, Attorney General DeWine told local radio station WLW: “It is possible that the person who did this is among the deceased, but it’s looking like that’s probably not true.”
The initial report came at 7:53 a.m. Friday with a 911 call reporting two possible males deceased at a home on Union Hill Road in Piketon, Reader said. On their way there, deputies were flagged down by someone on Union Hill Road and given two more addresses and reports of bodies.
Initially investigators found seven bodies between the three trailer homes. They appeared to have been killed sometime during the night because many were still lying in bed, DeWine said. The three trailer homes are all in close proximity. Two of them are in walking distance, investigators said, and the third is a little more than a mile away.
About 2 p.m., investigators discovered an eighth body at a fourth location, which is about a 10-minute drive from the initial three trailer homes.
With few leads so far on a motive or assailants, authorities urged anyone with information to call the sheriff’s or attorney general’s offices. “Contact us, even if you only have little bit of something and not sure it’s valuable,” DeWine said.
“They were very good people,” said a relative of Dana Rhoden, who did not want to be identified. “She was so good with her kids and her grandbaby. We’re just brokenhearted.”
Neighbors on Union Hill Road described it as a rural area of mostly mobile homes.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is in Pennsylvania for his presidential campaign, said his office was monitoring the situation. “Reports we are receiving from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehension,” wrote Kasich on Twitter, referring to the town bordering Piketon.
Attorney general’s office spokesman Dan Tierney said the Pike County sheriff’s office called state authorities at 8:21 a.m. requesting help. The attorney general sent agents from four of its units: crime scene, special investigations, criminal intelligence and cybercrimes.
Officials at Peebles High School said they placed the school on lockdown Friday morning as a precaution but lifted that lockdown by about 10:30 a.m.
•Sourced from Washington Post. Photo shows the site of the fatal shootings.
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