Friday, April 14, 2017

Ohio Murder Mystery

Looks like someone is putting up a smokescreen:

"Investigators: Fear holding back witnesses in killings of 8" by Andrew Welsh-Huggins Associated Press  April 13, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fear in the community is holding back information about the unsolved massacre of eight family members in southern Ohio nearly a year ago, investigators said Thursday.

Some of that fear is of retaliation by the killers, and some is fear of witnesses incriminating themselves over their own criminal activity — likely involving drugs — unrelated to the slayings, investigators said.

On April 22, 2016, investigators found seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family shot to death at four homes near Piketon, in southern Ohio. A newborn, another baby, and a young child were unharmed.

One of the victims, Christopher Rhoden Sr., operated a commercial marijuana growing operation on his property ‘‘with the purpose of distributing the marijuana,’’ according to Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office is leading the investigation.

Investigators have received 883 tips to date and conducted 465 interviews, which includes people interviewed more than once.

Family members still waiting for answers say updates from investigators have dwindled. Glenna Gilley, whose 20-year-old granddaughter, Hannah Gilley, was among those killed, speculated that people with information might be afraid to come forward.

‘‘I’m sure there’s someone somewhere that knows something,’’ she said Wednesday.

Gilley, 65, described her granddaughter as a good person and ‘‘a wonderful mother.’’

The three children who were spared in the slayings are in foster care and receiving visits from immediate family members, Reader said.

Last month, relatives distributed posters with photos of the victims in hopes of turning up local tips.

Reader said he believes those responsible were from the area. DeWine said the killers had to be familiar with the land around the properties as well as the properties themselves.

Leonard Manley, whose daughter and three grandchildren were killed, said it was suspicious that any assailants were able to get by his daughter’s two dogs.

Three trailers and a camper where the slayings took place were seized by investigators afterward and remain in storage.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court is weighing lawsuits by The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer seeking the full, unredacted autopsies of the victims.

The other victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; and their three children, 20-year-old Clarence ‘‘Frankie’’ Rhoden; 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr.; and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden.

Also killed were Hannah Gilley, who was Frankie Rhoden’s fiancee; a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44, Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother.

Kenneth Rhoden died of a single gunshot wound to the head. His body was the last one found by investigators.

The other victims were shot multiple times in the head and, in the case of Christopher Rhoden Sr., in his upper body and torso as well.

Reader on Thursday pleaded for more donations to the reward fund, stuck at $10,000 for several months, for information leading to a conviction.

The sheriff hinted that the victims’ involvement in drug crime may be holding people back from donating.

‘‘These are human beings, regardless of what they did for a living, regardless if they live in rural Pike County,’’ said Reader, who grew emotional at times talking about the ‘‘complete devastation’’ of the killings.

Both DeWine and Reader said they expect an arrest someday, with DeWine saying ‘‘significant progress’’ has been made and the case is still his office’s top priority. DeWine expressed frustration that he couldn’t make public all the information investigators have gathered.

‘‘We are going to find you. We are going to arrest you. And justice will be done,’’ DeWine said, addressing the killers.

Despite a massive investigation, no arrests have been made and no suspects identified.


Yeah, who is blocking them?

Let's take a look at the file:

"Hundreds of pot plants found at killing scenes" Associated Press  April 25, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio prosecutor said Monday that investigators found what appeared to be several hundred marijuana plants at some of the homes where eight relatives were found shot to death last week.

Authorities said a 2012 seizure could be connected to a Mexican drug cartel.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has described the killings near the small community of Piketon as ‘‘a sophisticated operation’’ and a planned execution.

More than a dozen counselors, clergy, and school psychologists were on hand Monday to help at a southern Ohio school district, where one of eight people killed was a high school freshman.

Investigators have interviewed between 50 and 60 people in hopes of finding leads, and a team of 38 people is combing wooded areas around the shooting scenes to ensure no evidence was missed....


See: Yesterday's Sunday Globe Was Special

I continued looking:

"The hunt for whoever is responsible continued to expand, with more than 200 law enforcement officials involved. Authorities haven’t suggested a motive or suspects. Meanwhile...."

"Ohio massacre: 1 family, 8 dead, hundreds of tips, 0 answers" by Andrew Welsh-Huggins Associated Press  April 28, 2016

PIKETON, Ohio — One of the worst mass killings in Ohio history, portrayed as a meticulously planned ‘‘execution,’’ looked to some people like a feud within a family, possibly a murder-suicide, soon took on a more sinister cast when authorities disclosed a large-scale illegal marijuana growing operation at one of the crime scenes and said pot was being cultivated at some of the other homes, too. Ohio’s attorney general also said there were signs of cockfighting at one of the properties.

Nearly a week after the killings, though, authorities have announced no arrests and no motive, an unsettling silence considering the huge investigative force brought to bear in this thinly populated county where many people either knew the victims or knew of them.

Since the discovery of the bodies April 22, over 215 law enforcement officers have been involved in the investigation, with several hundred tips received and more than 50 people interviewed.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he doesn’t want to telegraph the killer or killers what investigators know.

Relatives of the victims said they were surprised by the marijuana. Some neighbors said they had heard rumors. And some said the marijuana-growing was a case of courting trouble.

As if they asked for this?

‘‘If you don’t go around bad places, the odds of something bad happening to you are pretty slim,’’ said Ron Lucas, a paper-mill worker who lives a few miles from where the killings took place.

But Angie Tolliver, a home health aide, said that whatever connection drugs may have had to the slayings, ‘‘Nobody deserves that. That’s just evil.’’

Large marijuana operations are common in Pike County, scene of the killings. Authorities in 2012 said the seizure of about 1,200 plants in Pike County could be related to a Mexican drug cartel, while in 2010 more than 22,000 plants were confiscated.

While the cleanup of a shuttered Cold War-era uranium plant employs hundreds of people in some of the best-paying jobs around town, about one-fifth of Pike County’s 28,000 residents live in poverty, and the area roughly 80 miles east of Cincinnati consistently has some of Ohio’s highest unemployment and drug-overdose death rates.

Investigators won’t say if the killings are related to the marijuana, and law enforcement officials not associated with the investigation cast doubt on any cartel connection.

Neighbors used to leaving doors open are settling into a nervous new reality. Gone is the sound of the loud truck that Frankie Rhoden used to drive up and down Union Hill Road. Sheriff’s deputies sit round-the-clock in cruisers on either end of the hilly road, keeping out everyone but residents, approved visitors, and investigators.

Roads in the area cut through slowly greening forests sprinkled with the white petals of early-blooming dogwood trees. Trailers surrounded by jumbles of cars, propane tanks, and tractors are side-by-side with neat, well-kept homes. Steer grazing on pastures share the landscape with old family cemeteries.

Guns are a staple in these wooded hills, where neighbors say they wouldn’t think twice about opening fire if an unfamiliar figure showed up with a weapon. A $10 fund-raising raffle for a local Masonic lodge offers a Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifle as first prize.

Some people in the area said they are scared, but most seem to believe the victims were targeted and the killers long gone.

‘‘Somebody that slaughters a whole family wouldn’t stay here,’’ said Ray Goldsberry.

Law enforcement authorities have suggested the same thing, though Sheriff Charles Reader said: ‘‘If you are fearful, arm yourself.’’



"Authorities are still trying to determine who killed the victims and why. They have conducted nearly 130 interviews and are reviewing about 450 tips and more than 100 pieces of evidence, Attorney General Mike DeWine said Monday. They found a large illegal marijuana growing operation at one of the crime scenes and said the drug was being cultivated at some of the other homes, too — something not uncommon in this corner of Appalachia — but they haven’t said whether they believe that to be connected to a motive."

Imagine if the house caught fire?

"Authorities have reviewed about 700 tips and 100 pieces of evidence and relocated the four mobile homes where the bodies were found to preserve the crime scenes; however, they refuse to reveal how much closer they might be to identifying any suspects or a motive, saying they don’t want to jeopardize the chance to catch and convict whoever’s responsible. As time passes, the likelihood of the case going cold increases. Still, it’s uncommon for a mass killing to go unsolved."

Depends on who commits it.

"Investigators of Ohio family attack suspect multiple killer" AP  August 04, 2016

PIKETON, Ohio — Investigators are operating under the theory that there were multiple attackers in the slayings of eight people from one Ohio family, authorities confirmed Thursday after months of noting that was a possibility.

Since when?

Local and state investigators have released few details about the April shootings near Piketon, saying they don’t want to jeopardize their chances of catching and convicting whoever’s responsible.

Offering just the slightest bit more detail Thursday, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine confirmed that investigators are working with the theory that it wasn’t a single attacker.

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader also referenced the suspicion of multiple ‘‘killers’’ Thursday while testifying in a court hearing related to custody of two of the three young children who weren’t harmed in the attack, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Speaking in support of closing those proceedings to the public, Reader said he believes the children are still in danger and worries that making information about them public would amplify that.

Seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family were found dead at four homes on April 22. A coroner determined all but one of the victims had been shot repeatedly, and some had bruising.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence ‘‘Frankie’’ Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden; Frankie Rhoden’s fiancee, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.


Related: No arrests, many questions 6 months after 8 killed in Ohio

The answer to it all: a government hit team being protected.

Also see:

"A 29-year-old man was wandering an Ohio neighborhood with a remote control and a made-up story about a missing drone, asking children for help, police said. On a Thursday night in June, Candy Arthurs learned that Kristopher Amos, who turned out to be a registered sex offender, was with her 7-year-old grandson and 8-year-old granddaughter in a Columbus, Ohio, alley, police told the Columbus Dispatch. When she confronted him, he pulled out a large knife and stabbed her in the heart, authorities said...."

"A 14-year-old Ohio girl fatally shot her father in the head as he slept to stop him from abusing her family, her attorney said Friday. ‘‘This was a classic situation of a battered woman as it relates to mom,’’ said Cleveland attorney Ian Friedman. ‘‘The girl and her siblings witnessed this every day. It reached a point where it’s self-defense and defense of others.’’ Asked about the abuse allegations, Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Stanley Elkins said Friday he’d only heard about them from the media. ‘‘I’m not finding any evidence of that,’’ Elkins said...."

"A Michigan man was charged Monday with felony drug trafficking after 24 people became sick at an Ohio rap music festival when they ate candy laced with the marijuana ingredient THC. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Authorities said all those who got sick are expected to recover. No fatalities were reported...."

RelatedProvidence remains solve 23-year-old mystery

See what happens when you deal pot?