Ohio massacre investigation: Sheriff believes family's killer or killers to be local

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio - It wasn't a Mexican drug cartel. The killers weren't from another country.

The people who wiped out eight members of a family in Pike County last April are locals.

At least, that's the theory Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader is leaning toward.

"That's my belief," he said.

Six months later, the Rhoden family massacre still haunts residents of Pike County. It's now considered among the most notorious homicide cases in Ohio history.

And Reader, tasked with solving this case, is working against a clock that started on April 22.

Seven adults and a 16-year-old boy from the Rhoden family were found dead that day at four properties near Piketon. A newborn, another baby and young child weren't harmed. A coroner determined all but one of the victims had been shot repeatedly, and some had bruising.

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

Police said they found marijuana at all of the crime scenes except Dana Rhoden's house. Reader said some of the victims were selling it.

That revelation led investigators to consider whether or not the killings could be connected to a Mexican drug cartel previously suspected of moving pot through Pike County.

That's no longer the theory, according to Reader. And Dana Rhoden's father, Leonard Manley, agrees.

"Whoever did this had to know the dog, had to know where the security system was," he said.

WCPO television station in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a membership-based website that requires payment to read some content. More of this in-depth look into the Rhoden family massacre may be found here.

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