PIKE COUNTY SHERIFF: ‘We are getting closer. We will find you.’

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 5:43 AM

Pike County Murders: Rhoden family makes plea for information

PIKE COUNTY — One year after eight members of the Rhoden family were murdered in their beds as they slept, the Ohio Attorney General and local law enforcement officers continue to search for answers. 

Pike County residents wonder if the killers will be caught.

"Yes I do think it is going to be a lot harder to find them,” said Annie Wilburn, a Piketon resident. “I really don't know if they're going to find them at all."

RELATED: In depth Pike County murders coverage

Stephanie Stanley, a reporter with The Pike County News Watchman newspaper, has tracked this case from the beginning and says it's been tough to deal with.

"People were slain in their beds with babies beside them,” Stanley said. “And it was crushing."

The key to this case may lie with what investigators found here when they responded after the murders – two commercial-sized marijuana grow operations. 

Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine says some people in Piketon are reluctant to talk out of fear of retaliation. Others may be purposely withholding information.

"It's going to be better for them if they come forward if they do it on their own accord than if we have to drag them in,” DeWine said. 

RELATED: DeWine on Pike Co. shootings: Someone involved ‘knew the territory’

The Rhodens lived at multiple locations along Union Hill Road in Pike County. 

DeWine says given the remoteness of the Rhoden family homes, the killers must have known the area well. 

During a news conference in April, DeWine and the county sheriff unveiled a poster of the victims and information about a $10,000 reward for information. 

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said he has a message for the killers:

"You came in like thieves in the night and took eight lives...some being children,” Reader said. “The most horrific way I have seen in my 20 plus years. We are getting closer. We will find you. The family and the victims will have justice one day."

RELATED: Final autopsy reports out in Pike County killings

Law enforcement officers have conducted nearly 500 interviews and received almost 900 tips making this the biggest case the Bureau of Investigation has ever handled, according to the attorney general. 

A reporter the local newspaper told us there have been many theories about who could have done it. Everything from Mexican drug cartels to rival factions within the victim's family.

RELATED: 4 possible motives in Pike County Ohio murders

"People keep swinging back to was it someone within the family?” Stanley said. “We hear that quite a bit.”

Done camera views of the Pike County murder scenes one year later.


2 men hit by cars in separate fights in Dayton, Trotwood

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 6:55 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 6:30 PM

UPDATE @ 6:30 p.m.

What started as arguments this morning ended with two men getting hit by cars in separate incidents in Dayton and Trotwood.

Two men were fighting, one armed with a knife, when one of the men was struck by a car around 6:45 a.m. near a Sunoco on Wayne Avenue in Dayton. No one was hurt, and it’s not clear whether the knife-wielding man was the one hit. It’s also not clear whether either man faces charges.

In Trotwood, a man said he was assaulted by his ex-girlfriend and her new befriend before they hit him with their car.

Police and medics were called just before 8 a.m. to the 4400 block of Shorham Court, but the victim refused medical treatment at the scene. It’s not clear whether anyone will be charged.

RELATED: Man hit by car during argument in Trotwood

A man told police his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend assaulted him and struck him with with a car. It’s not clear what led to the argument, and the victim refused medical treatment at the scene. It’s unknown whether anyone will face charges.

UPDATE @ 7:25 a.m.

No one has been taken to the hospital from the scene of a reported pedestrian strike on Wayne Avenue Sunday morning. 

Dispatchers said a police officer is at the scene, but it doesn't appear anyone was severely injured. 

Initial reports indicated two men fighting - one armed with a knife - were near a Sunoco when one of the men was hit by a car. 

Dispatchers said a medic unit left the scene with no patients and additional crews called to the scene have since left.


Police and medic crews are responding to a reported pedestrian strike in Dayton Sunday morning. 

Crews were dispatched to the intersection of Keowee Street and Wayne Avenue around 6:45 a.m. 

Initial reports indicate a man was hit by a car after fighting with another man near the Sunoco in the 900 block of Wayne Avenue. 

One of the men was armed with a knife, but it is unknown if anyone was injured during the argument. 

We are working to learn the condition of the person hit by the car.

Woman behind bars accused in two Dayton bank robberies

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 6:40 PM
Updated: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 10:27 AM

Santa Cruz police activity

UPDATE @ 10:27 a.m. July 22

A 32-year-old woman is in jail on suspicion of robbing banks in Dayton on Friday.

Nicole M. Brown is being held in the Montgomery County Jail on suspicion of two incidents of aggravated robbery.

Brown was booked into jail around 9 p.m. after Dayton police arrested her in the 400 block of Santa Cruz Avenue.

Police said Brown is the suspect who tried to rob Key Bank on Linden Avenue then robbed the Fifth Third Bank on Patterson Road Friday afternoon.

Brown is scheduled to appear Monday for an arraignment in Dayton Municipal Court.

UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m. (July 21)

A suspect in a robbery this afternoon at Fifth Third Bank on Patterson Road is in police custody tonight.

"We had an attempted robbery and robbery of a bank, two different locations, Dayton police Sgt. Terry Bartlett said. 

Police apprehended a suspect at the home in the 400 block of Santa Cruz Avenue, the sergeant said. The woman's name was not released. 

READ: Carlisle baby alive at birth; mom, 18 charged with reckless homicide

"The occupants did come out, the white female that was our suspect is being interviewed now for further details," Bartlett said. 

A man also was in the house, but there is no indication he was involved, said Bartlett, who would not discuss the baby and young child seen with police on the porch. 

A dog described by Bartlett as a black pit bull came running up on officers and was placed in a cruiser to secure it. The dog was taken by the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, he said. 

READ: 400 pounds of marijuana seized in Dayton-to-Columbus drug ring

Dayton police responded to a bank robbery that happened around 3:45 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank, 1032 Patterson Road, and about 10 minutes earlier to an attempted bank robbery at Key Bank, 4000 Linden Ave. The suspect was seen leaving Fifth Third in a blue truck, but Bartlett would not confirm the blue truck in front of the Santa Cruz house was the suspect vehicle in the case.

UPDATE @ 6:55 p.m.

A woman was taken away in back of a Dayton police cruiser tonight from a home in the 400 block of Santa Cruz Avenue.

A man was in the back of another cruiser, and a Dayton police officer was holding a baby on the front porch of the home. There also appeared to be another young child standing on the porch with several officers.


Police are surrounding a home tonight in the 400 block of Santa Cruz Avenue in Dayton.

Police search truck in connection to possible bank robberies in Dayton.

The police activity is connected to a robbery this afternoon at Fifth Third Bank, 1032 Patterson Road, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center.

A female bank robbery suspect handed the same note to two banks within 10 minutes, Dayton police said.

RELATED: Robbery suspect uses same note in Fifth Third, Key Bank incidents

Around 3:15 p.m. she entered Fifth Third Bank and handed tellers a note saying she had a gun, according to a 911 call. She fled the bank down Patterson Road in a blue pickup truck after getting a few thousand dollars, despite earlier reports she did not get any money. The suspect has brown hair and she was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants, according to a dispatch log from the regional dispatch center.

Patterson Fifth Third robbery

Dayton police said she handed the same not to employees at Key Bank, 4000 Linden Ave., but fled empty-handed.

9 dead, two dozen injured inside broiling truck in Texas in possible immigrant-smuggling attempt 

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 4:36 AM
Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 8:07 AM

8 Found Dead, 28 Injured Inside Semi-Trailer At Texas Walmart

Multiple people were found dead early Sunday inside a semi-trailer in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart.

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Man accused of killing father, leaving corpse on couch for weeks

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 8:03 AM

Man Accused Of Killing Father, Leaving Corpse On Couch For Weeks

Tyler Swantek, 24, was already in custody on drug charges when police tacked on a first-degree murder charge.

Police said he killed his father, Todd Swantek, and left the corpse on the couch for weeks. The Standard-Speaker reported that Swantek allegedly shot his father in the head with a rifle.

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Police reportedly were called to the scene in Frackville, Pennsylvania, in late May by a friend of Todd Swantek’s, who had not heard from the father for a month. When police entered the house, they found a gruesome scene: The badly decomposed body was on the couch, covered in blankets and a sleeping bag, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said they searched the house and found the rifle, which they believe to be the murder weapon, in Tyler Swantek’s bedroom.

There were a number of candles and air fresheners in the house, apparently put out in an attempt to mask the smell, the Standard-Speaker reported. Police said that when they interviewed Tyler Swantek about his father’s death, he showed no emotion. An autopsy report suggested that the body may have been on the couch for months before it was discovered. Swantek appeared in court where he asked for reduced bail for drug charges, but the judge didn’t agree to the deal. The judge reportedly said, “He’s a danger to himself and society.”