Six funerals held after Ohio family massacre
By Kyle Grillot
WEST PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Reuters) – More than a week after eight family members were found shot to death at four separate homes in rural Ohio’s Appalachian foothills, funerals for six of the victims were held on Tuesday as investigators continue to comb through evidence.
The victims, all members of the Rhoden family ranging in age from 16 to 44, were executed on April 22 in a planned, “sophisticated operation,” officials said.
Federal and state officials found three marijuana cultivation sites at one of the homes, but have declined to say whether they are linked to the deaths.
David Dickerson from the Pike County prosecutor’s office told reporters after the church service on Tuesday that it was standing-room only in the church for the nearly 40-minute service for the six victims.
Dickerson said the family was “beyond devastated” and that multiple teams of crisis counselors had been helping the family. “It has been a very hard 11 days,” he said.
A lengthy procession that included six black hearses then took the victims to Scioto Burial Park in McDermott, Ohio.
Officials have declined to reveal details of the investigation to avoid tipping off suspects. They have sent more than 100 items to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s crime lab for DNA, ballistics and fingerprint analysis.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office declined to comment further on Tuesday.
Investigators have said they are not assuming the killings in Pike County, about 95 miles (150 km) east of Cincinnati, were committed by one person. Local media have quoted unidentified law enforcement officials as saying many theories are being considered, including a family feud or even the involvement of Mexican drug cartels.
Many of the victims were shot in the head as they slept, authorities said. Three children were found alive.
Six family members, including Christopher Rhoden Sr, 40; his ex-wife Dana Rhoden, 37; their three children Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; as well as Christopher Sr’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44, were buried on Tuesday in West Portsmouth, Ohio.
The first of the funerals was held last Thursday in northern Kentucky for Gary Rhoden, 38, and Hannah Gilley, 20, Clarence Rhoden’s girlfriend and mother of a 6-month-old boy who survived, was buried last Saturday in Waverly, Ohio.
(Reporting by Kyle Grillot and Kim Palmer; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sandra Maler)