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Pike County killings: SWAT team searches for evidence in Rhoden family slayings

Published: Saturday, May 13, 2017 @ 7:33 PM
By: Breaking News Staff, Will Garbe, Josh Sweigart

A special weapons and tactics team joined a large-scale, cross-jurisdictional search effort on Saturday connected to the Rhoden family mass slayings last year.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Marc Gofstein confirmed to this news outlet’s media partner WBNS-TV in Columbus that its SWAT team helped search for possible evidence related to the April 22, 2016, execution-style killings of a teenager and seven adults at four homes near Piketon. He did not know whether any evidence was found.

RELATED: Pike County killings: ‘End this nightmare,’ Rhoden family survivors plea

“It’s correct that we were continuing our search today,” Dan Tierney, spokesman for DeWine’s office said this evening.

Tierney also said Franklin County joined the effort but did not say in what role. The search today in Pike County was related to the Friday searches in Adams County. Tierney said he was unable to comment on specific locations searched nor what law enforcement was seeking. He also said no arrests were made in connection to today’s searches nor the Rhoden slayings.

RELATED: Pike County killings: A closer look at the 8 victims

The searches are part of a joint investigation among the AG’s office and its Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the sheriff’s offices of Adams, Pike counties, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections special tactics and response team.

Property searched Friday included a 71-acre property off Peterson Road at Ohio 32 in Oliver Twp., Adams County. The property is co-owned by 24-year-old Edward Jacob Wagner and George W. Wagner IV, 25. One of the victims in the slaying, Hanna Rhoden, had a 2-year-old daughter named Sophia Wagner, who was not with her when she was gunned down in her home. Sophia Wagner’s father is Jake Wagner but it’s not clear whether Edward Jake Wagner and Jake Wagner are the same person.

The victims in the April 22, 2016, case are: Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, Clarence Rhoden, 20, Dana Rhoden, 37, Gary Rhoden, 38, Hanna Rhoden, 19, Hannah Gilley, 20, Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

Hanna Rhoden was found dead lying next to her other daughter, who was just 4 days old. The baby was one of three young children left unharmed.

A $10,000 reward is available and officials want to increase the amount, saying anyone interested in donating may call 1-855-BCI-OHIO.

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