4 possible motives in Pike County Ohio murders

Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 @ 12:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 @ 2:58 PM

No arrests have been made in the Ohio shooting investigation of eight execution-style killings of members of the Rhoden family last week in Pike County, Ohio.

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Large-scale marijuana grow operations were discovered at three of the four murder scenes.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Dayton Daily News on Monday that the possibility of a Mexican drug cartel connection has not been ruled out and that investigators are looking at everything.

Here are four possible motives:

Mexican drug cartel

In 2010, state officials announced the seizure of 22,000 marijuana plants in the village of Latham -- 15 miles west of Piketon -- and said they suspected a connection to Mexican drug cartels.

In August 2012, Ohio law enforcement officers found “a major marijuana grow site in Pike County with suspected ties to a Mexican drug cartel,” according to a news release that DeWine’s office issued at the time. Investigators said they discovered about 1,200 marijuana plants, which were destroyed, and they also found evidence of two abandoned campsites that they believe belonged to Mexican nationals.

The marijuana grow operations that authorities discovered appeared to be for commercial use and not personal use.

“We’re running these leads out,” DeWine told CBS News. “But there’s many different theories.”

The marijuana grow operations were not simply a few random plants in a field somewhere, the Columbus Dispatch reported from an interview with Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk. He told Dispatch reporters that at least one was indoors and there appeared to be several hundred plants.

“It wasn’t just somebody sitting pots in the window,” Junk told the Dispatch.

"CBS This Morning" reported that the street value of the marijuana found is nearly $500,000.

“There’s a drug problem in most areas around here,” Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said.

Family feud

The identities of the eight people killed are Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

While nothing has been ruled out, it is unlikely that it was a random act of violence or a crime committed by another member of the Rhoden family, authorities said.

“This is 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 don’t know if it was one or two (shooters).”

Reader said the victims did not have previous criminal contact with his office.

Seven of the victims were found in three Union Hill Road homes in Piketon, while the eighth was found within a 10-minute drive from the other victims, most of whom were executed while they were in bed. All were killed during the nighttime hours.

Three children -- a 4-day-old, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old -- were found unharmed at the scenes.

At Sunday’s news conference, Reader said he warned other Rhoden family members to be on guard.

Leonard Manley, the father of victim Dana Rhoden, called whoever committed the murders “a bunch of scumbags” who know the family.

“Whoever done it knows the family,” Manley said. “(Because) there were two dogs there that would eat you up. But I ain’t going to say no more.”

Manley, who is still shaken up about the the loss of this relatives, said his daughter was a kind person who would “give you the shirt off her back,” and people in the area were aware of her kindness.

He learned about the deaths Friday morning from another one of his daughters, who discovered the victims and called him, Manley said, noting that he’s taken the sheriff’s advice and has armed himself.

Facebook threat

DeWine said his office has “received over 100 tips, conducted over 50 to 60 interviews (and) over 100 personnel were involved in this investigation.”

Two of those individuals interviewed were Isaiah Jones and Rusty Mongold.

Jones told CBS News that he was detained at gunpoint during a traffic stop. He was questioned for six hours, then released.

“I really want people to know I had nothing to do with it,” a tearful Jones said. “These were also friends of mine and that I went to school with.”

Mongold, Jones’ friend, said in a Facebook post that he had nothing to do with the shooting and that he went to the sheriff’s office to clear his name and submit a DNA sample.

The recent Facebook post stemmed from an April 12 Facebook post that alluded to a “kid that hit (Mongold) with his car” and wanting to “beat his skull in,” a perceived threat against the youngest murder victim.

A commenter asks if it’s Chris Rhoden, and Mongold responds, “Yes.”

Cockfighting ring

DeWine said that he can’t definitively say that the Rhoden family was involved in cockfighting.

But when he visited one of the crime scenes Friday, he said he noticed roosters in cages that are normally associated with cockfighting.

Judge resigns after sending woman to jail over perjury, traffic ticket

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 9:08 AM

Decatur Municipal Court Judge Lindsay Jones poses in this undated photo. (WSBTV)
Decatur Municipal Court Judge Lindsay Jones poses in this undated photo. (WSBTV)(WSBTV)

A Decatur municipal court judge has resigned after jailing a woman for perjury, saying she’d lied about a traffic ticket.

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Judge Lindsay Jones offered his resignation to Decatur Chief Municipal Judge Rhathelia Stroud on Wednesday, Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jones had earlier told The AJC he was not stepping down.

The controversy began when Shari Hurston Tatum appeared in court Nov. 8 for a traffic ticket. She waived her right to an attorney and jury trial, but demanded a bench hearing, Jones said.

When Tatum reappeared in court Wednesday for that hearing, Jones played video of the traffic incident and decided Tatum was guilty of blocking the intersection and further that Tatum was guilty of perjury. He sentenced her to two days in jail.

>> Related: Woman spends 20th anniversary in jail for minor traffic violation

“Tatum’s perjury was characterized as misbehavior before the court, and treated as a contempt of court process, for which she was sentenced to two days in jail,” Jones said.

Tatum said she was embarrassed and ended up spending her 20th wedding anniversary in jail.

After The AJC on Thursday published an article about the incident, Jones sent a letter refuting the idea that he had resigned. 

“I have not offered my resignation to Ms. Merris or the City Commission, nor have I spoken with Ms. Merris or the Commissioners as of this date relating to my judgeship,” Jones wrote on Thursday.

But Decatur officials say Jones had resigned verbally in conversation the day before with Stroud.

“After listening to his report and sharing my concerns and subsequent expectations for what had gone forth in the Court earlier, Judge Jones tendered his verbal resignation to me last night,” Stroud said in an email to Merriss.

Stroud further said she accepted the resignation immediately on behalf of the city.

Jones said on Sunday he meant only to maintain that he would not change his order in Tatum’s case and that he intended to seek further clarification from Stroud.

“I had no intent to offer the resignation of my position to Judge Stroud, I was merely expressing my intent do so in the future if the political pressures being exerting upon me to change my order were to persist,” Jones wrote.

Based on his resignation, Jones is no longer a member of the City of Decatur Municipal Court, Merriss said.

Police arrest, release 2 in slaying of Dayton man found shot in his home

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 1:31 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 6:48 PM

Police arrest, release 2 in slaying of Dayton man found shot in his home

UPDATE @ 6:30 p.m. (Dec. 11): Police now say two young men arrested in the investigation of a homicide on Grafton Avenue have been released pending further investigation. 

They were booked into the Montgomery County Jail on Friday on suspicion of murder. They were released Sunday, according to Dayton police homicide investigators. 

Neither man has been formally charged, according to the county prosecutor's office, in the death of Sayed Villanueva, 42, who was found dead Friday afternoon on the second floor of the house in the 1100 block of Grafton.

According to the autopsy report, Villanueva had been shot in the neck.

Sayed Villanueva (Courtesy/Family)

Monday, his fiance said she is confident the person or persons responsible will be caught and that justice will be served. 

"I don't know whether or not it will be served today but it will definitely be served," Tawana Callaway said. "It will come, you will get your time, trust and believe that, you will get your time because he did not deserve this," she said.

Multiple people were detained and questioned after Villanueva was found by family members shortly before 1 p.m.

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Police investigating body found in Great Miami River

Woman who posed as boy to date Springboro girl in 2010 wanted again

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 4:49 PM

            Patricia Dye in 2012 posed as teenage boy to have sex with a girl in Warren County, prosecutors said. Dye was released from prison in 2010 and moved to Middletown, but then went west without registering her address. Butler County Sheriff’s deputies retrieved her after the federal authorities located her in Orick, California. She is wanted again for failing to report a change of address. FILE
Patricia Dye in 2012 posed as teenage boy to have sex with a girl in Warren County, prosecutors said. Dye was released from prison in 2010 and moved to Middletown, but then went west without registering her address. Butler County Sheriff’s deputies retrieved her after the federal authorities located her in Orick, California. She is wanted again for failing to report a change of address. FILE

Area authorities are looking for Patricia J. Dye again.

Dye, 38, is accused of failing since June 21 to record a change of address as required because she is a registered sex offender.

Dye was wanted by Butler County in 2012 until sheriff’s deputies brought her back from Orick, California.

RELATED: Woman accused of dressing as boy to have sex with Springboro teen arrested

Dye went there when she was released from the Warren County Jail in 2010 after serving six months for contributing to the delinquency of a child, sexual imposition and attempted sexual imposition.

RELATED: No plea bargain for woman who pretended to be boy

She was arrested after posing as teenage boy named Matt Abrams to build a sexual relationship with a Springboro girl, investigators said. After her release she moved to Middletown, but then moved west without registering her address.

She was “at large” on Monday, according to Warren County authorities, charged with failing to provide notice of a change of address, a fourth-degree felony.

N.C. priest in ‘road rage’ gun incident files to change not-guilty plea

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Adams(Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

The Episcopal priest charged with waving a gun at another motorist July 5 in a road-rage incident in the Treasure Coast plans to change his not-guilty plea, according to court documents.

William Rian Adams, 35, of Fletcher, N.C., was charged with pointing a semi-automatic Glock 22 — a 15-round, .40-caliber pistol — from his red 2014 Corvette at Sharon Hughes, 54, and her son Christopher, 24, near Palm City in northern Martin County.

In about three hours of dashboard camera video, Adams adamantly denied waving a firearm. He insisted the gun, which he owned legally, and for which he had a concealed-weapon permit, never came out from under his seat.

Watch FHP dashboard-camera video of the incident

The change of plea motion was filed Friday by Adams’ lawyer, Brian H. Mallonee of Fort Pierce. He could change it to guilty, guilty of a lesser offense, or no contest. A hearing was set for Friday morning.

Mallonee, who in the past has professed Adams’ innocence, wasn’t available Monday, his office said. The Hugheses also could not be reached. The State Attorney’s Office for Martin County did not immediately return a call.

Adams still is listed in letterhead as rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, N.C., south of Asheville.

Rian “is on leave for a few weeks allowing him to focus on his family,” the church’s July 15 newsletter said. “We ask that you refrain from gossip or judgment and to hold him and his family in prayer.”

A call to the church and an email to the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina weren’t immediately returned. The diocese did issued a statement from its bishop just after the incident, saying in part that Adams and his family are receiving “pastoral care.”