Revealing one possible clue in the case, officials said
investigators had found three marijuana cultivation sites at one of
the homes, but they declined to say whether the cannabis "grows"
might be linked to the killings.
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Ohio Attorney General Mike
DeWine said it was clear the victims, ranging in age from 16 to 44,
were deliberately singled out for attack, most of them while they
slept, rather than killed at random or in a crime of passion.
In their latest briefing to reporters, however, officials refused to
comment on any possible motive or say whether they had identified
any suspects. While DeWine at times used plural pronouns, he
insisted investigators remained unsure whether they were seeking one
or more perpetrators.
"I don't know if it's a bad guy or bad guys - it could be one, two
three, four," he said in a televised news conference. He said 18
pieces of evidence had been sent to a state crime lab for analysis
and that 50 to 60 people had been interviewed in the case, with more
expected to be questioned.
"This was a pre-planned execution of eight individuals. It was a
sophisticated operation. And those who carried it out were trying to
do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their
prosecution," DeWine said.
"We would anticipate that this could be a lengthy investigation," he
The victims, all previously identified as members of the Rhoden
family, were found shot in the head in four separate homes on Friday
in or near Piketon, a town of some 2,000 people about 95 miles east
of Cincinnati in south-central Ohio.
[to top of second column]
The victims included a mother who was slain in bed with her
4-day-old infant in her arms. That baby and two other small children
present during the killings - a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old - all
survived, officials said.
The sheriff said he has urged other surviving members of the Rhoden
family to arm themselves for protection, but "for other citizens of
this county, I don't believe there is an issue."
Autopsies were completed on seven victims by Sunday afternoon. The
sheriff also said he had sent additional investigators to scour the
wooded areas surrounding all four crime scenes in search of any
A local restaurateur, Jeff Ruby, offered a $25,000 reward for any
information leading to arrest and conviction of those responsible.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman from Los Angeles; Additional reporting by
Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken)
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