Slain Ohio Family Member May Have Been Target of Facebook Threat

One of eight Ohio family members killed in a "pre-planned execution" may have been the target of a Facebook threat, according to a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

"I can confirm that the attorney general said he was aware of the Facebook threat," Jill Del Greco said Monday.

She declined to specify which family member may have been targeted or by whom.

Seven adults and one teenager, all members of the Rhoden family, were found shot in the head Friday at four crime scenes in the rural community of Piketon.

The victims were identified Saturday as 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his 16-year-old son, Christopher Rhoden Jr.; 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; 20-year-old Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden; 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden.

Three young children — including Hannah Gilley's 6-month-old baby and Hannah Rhoden's 4-day-old — were unharmed.

"To think of the scene of this baby — this 4-day-old baby being with its mom in bed — and someone comes in and executes the mother with the baby right by the mother's side is just, to me, beyond comprehension," said Attorney General Mike DeWine.

When asked why the children's lives may have been spared, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said, "My only guess, and I would be completely speculating, but — they're not witnesses."

Autopsies were completed Monday, with authorities still scrambling to figure out who pulled the trigger and why. Surviving members of the Rhoden family have been offered police protection and told to arm themselves.

"There ultimately is a threat because there is someone who's done this and they're still at large," said Reader. "And I would consider them armed and dangerous."

Investigators have been tight-lipped about details of the crime, but a police report documenting one of the scenes — where two people were found dead — says no forced entry was made, indicating the gunman may have known the family.

Authorities also said they found marijuana grow operations at three of the crime scenes but didn't say if the killings were drug-related.

"Well, I think we can speculate what the motive was. You talk about revenge, you can talk about drug-related, but frankly, we just don't know," said DeWine. "We're not ruling anything in; we're not ruling anything out."

Marijuana seizures are common in Pike County, where authorities said a 2012 seizure may have been linked to a Mexican drug cartel. Some 20,000 pounds of marijuana plants were found on a single property in nearby Latham in 2010, according to data from the attorney general's office.

"You know, there's a lot of things have been covered up right here in Pike County," said Leonard Manley, the father of victim Dana Rhoden, in an interview Monday.

He declined to reveal whether his daughter ever feared for her safety or if he knew who might be responsible. Manley did say, however, his daughter's dogs were wary of strangers so "they must have been there all the time."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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