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.

Abducted baby abandoned under overpass, saved by homeless man: reports

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 5:24 PM

Abducted Baby Abandoned Under Overpass, Saved By Homeless Man: Reports

A homeless man’s call to police on Monday morning ended an hours-long search for a Louisiana infant who was kidnapped and then abandoned underneath a highway overpass, according to multiple reports.

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Authorities in Shreveport were called Monday morning by a homeless man who said that another man told him he had left a baby under a bridge in Minden, about 30 miles east of Shreveport, KTBS reported.

The child and a man identified by authorities as 25-year-old Kyshaun Wilson had been reported missing around 3:30 a.m. Monday after Wilson left a home in Minden with the 2 1/2-month-old boy, according to the news station. KTBS described Wilson as a friend of the family who lived at the home on Columbia Street, but KSLA reported that he was not a blood relative to the boy.

He was visiting the home on Sunday night and got up around midnight Monday to get the infant a bottle, according to KTBS.

“For some reason unknown at this time, he walks out with the baby,” Minden police Chief Steve Cropper told the news station.

Investigators told KSLA that Wilson walked for miles before he left the baby under an overpass on Interstate 20 around 3 a.m. He got a ride to Shreveport and went to Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, where he met a homeless man and confessed to leaving the infant, the news station reported.

The homeless man, who was not identified, called police, who were able to find Wilson.

Wilson initially denied any knowledge of the missing child, but later admitted that he had left him under the overpass, the Minden Press-Herald reported.

Police found the child wrapped in a blanket and sleeping underneath the Sibley exit bridge, according to KTBS and The Press-Herald.

“The scariest thing about it -- if he were able to roll off that ledge, he would have hit that concrete retaining ledge and probably would have rolled right out into interstate,” Cropper told the Press-Herald.

However, he told KTBS, “the child was fine. He had only a few minor abrasions.”

The baby has since been released to his mother.

Cropper told the Press-Herald that Wilson was arrested on one count of aggravated kidnapping.

As authorities took him to police headquarters, Wilson said that “God told me to do it,” according to the Press-Herald.

Related

Dayton’s Sam Miller guilty of disorderly conduct, avoids jail, expresses remorse

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 4:34 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 7:38 PM

JAIL CELL VIDEO: UD player in jail incident

UPDATE @ 7:30 p.m.: Sam Miller expressed his remorse to the court in pleading guilty and is “working hard to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” his attorney, Dennis Lieberman, said.

Beyond that, Miller had no additional comments, Lieberman said.

INITIAL REPORT

Suspended Dayton basketball player Sam Miller pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct Tuesday after an incident in the Greene County Jail that originally landed him with an assault charge.

Miller, 20, will not serve additional jail time and will pay a $250 fine, according to court records.

UD Men's basketball player Sam Miller arrested and becomes insubordinate in back of cruiser.

MORE: Read about Miller’s arrest here

Miller was accused of assaulting a fellow inmate on Sunday, July 30, in the Greene County Jail after an initial arrest for disorderly conduct by intoxication and underage consumption at Caddy’s Taphouse in Beavercreek.

“The university has suspended me for one semester, a decision I have accepted without appeal. In addition, my scholarship has been revoked by the athletic department and, therefore, I will not be a part of the Men’s Basketball program at the University of Dayton this fall,” Miller said earlier this month in a statement to the Dayton Daily News and WHIO. The scholarship was revoked for one year.

MORE: Dayton Flyers’ Sam Miller suspended for semester, won’t play this fall

On Monday, Dayton Head Coach Anthony Grant told the Daily News’ Tom Archdeacon that Miller “is a good kid who made a very, very bad decision.”

“I think he has some personal issues that need attention and hopefully this incident will make him more aware of the things previous coaches and other people have seen,” Grant told Archdeacon.

ARCHDEACON: Eventful summer has Dayton’s Anthony Grant eager to begin

Miller appeared in 53 of 65 games the last two seasons, averaging 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds. Miller averaged 3.2 points and 1.4 rebounds as a freshman.

Last season, he averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds as a sophomore. Miller was one of five returning players who averaged double-figure minutes. A sixth, junior forward Ryan Mikesell, will miss the season after undergoing two hip surgeries.

With Miller and Mikesell out for the season, Dayton will have 11 scholarship players available when the season begins.

Six of those, including five true freshmen, have never played for Dayton. The other newcomer is redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo, who sat out last season as a NCAA partial qualifier but did practice with the team starting in January.

Staff Writer David Jablonski contributed reporting.

Manhunt suspect, accused of gun thefts from retired cop, sentenced

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 10:01 AM


            Randy Lee Sellars Jr.
Randy Lee Sellars Jr.

A 30-year-old man in jail and accused of stealing guns and ammunition from a former Moraine deputy police chief has been found guilty of other charges.

Randy Lee Sellars Jr. was sentenced to nearly six months in custody Tuesday, about two weeks after being booked in Montgomery County Jail following a multi-jurisdictional manhunt that started when he escaped custody in Moraine.

RELATED: Guns, ammunition stolen from home of retired deputy chief

Sellars in late July stole guns and ammunition from the home of retired Moraine Deputy Police Chief Tracy Harpster, police in that city said Tuesday.

The defendant was booked in the county jail Aug. 6, fewer than 24 hours after be apprehended in Kettering following his escape in Moraine.

RELATED: Fugitive suspect found after escaping police

Sellars’ arrest this month followed “quite a little spree” that has drawn the interest of authorities in German Twp. and Centerville as well, said Moraine Sgt. Jon Spencer.

On Aug. 8, his bond was set at $500,000, according to court documents.

Jail records indicate felony charges of escape and burglary. The latter charge stems from the theft at Harpster’s home, where a rifle, two pistols and “several thousand” rounds of ammunition were taken, Moraine records show.

MORE: Other articles by Nick Blizzard

Kettering Municipal Court Judge James Long on Tuesday sentenced Sellars to 163 days in jail and fined him $100 after finding him guilty on four misdemeanors, court records show.

“There are other agencies in the south suburbs that he is a suspect in,” current Moraine Deputy Police Chief Jason Neubauer said. “I’m anticipating more charges will be coming his way.”

Sellars initially pleaded not guilty to receiving stolen, criminal damaging/endangering, obstructing official business and criminal trespassing. But Tuesday he changed his pleas on all counts to no contest, court records show.

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Woman hit by car, killed while watching eclipse; 1 injured

Published: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 @ 9:25 AM

Woman Watching Eclipse Hit by Car and Killed, Another Injured

A 23-year-old woman died and a second woman was injured Monday when a driver lost control of her car and struck them while they watched the solar eclipse in Kentucky, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities told WLKY that Alyssa Noble, 38, lost control of her car while driving on Main Street in Hyden on Monday afternoon, striking a utility pole and a pair of women who were watching the eclipse.

Officials pronounced 23-year-old Mackenzie Hayes, of Hazard, dead at the scene of the crash. Rhonda Belcher, 41, of Wooton, was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Hospital, Kentucky State Police said in a news release obtained by The Courier-Journal.

The newspaper reported that Hayes and Belcher were watching the eclipse around 1:15 p.m. near the courthouse in Hyden when the crash happened.

It was not immediately clear what caused Noble to lose control of her vehicle. WKYT reported that Noble was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, after the collision.

Hayes and Belcher worked at Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, according to the news station. They were on their lunch break when they were struck while stopping on the sidewalk to watch the eclipse, WKYT reported.

In a statement obtained by the news station, Barry Martin, CEO of Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, called the crash “a tragic accident.”

“We are asking that everyone keep all of those involved in your prayers and be respectful of their privacy,” Martin said.

Police continue to investigate the crash.