Pike County murders: Relative accused of tampering with evidence

Pike County murders: Relative accused of tampering is in jail

A family member of several victims of the Pike County murders now is charged with destruction of a GPS device as part of the investigation into the slaying of eight members of the Rhoden family more than a year ago.

James Manley, 40, of Pike County is charged with single counts of tampering with evidence and vandalism, a misdemeanor of the first degree and a felony of the third degree respectively.

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UPDATE @7:33 a.m. 5/17/17: Manley is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. today.

We will have a reporter in the courtroom.

UPDATE @ 9:29 p.m. 5/16/17: Manley was booked into the Ross County Jail at 7:17 p.m., where he is being detained on the charges out of Pike County.

James Manley (Courtesy/Ross County Jail)
James Manley (Courtesy/Ross County Jail)

Manley is accused of removing and destroying a GPS device he found attached to his truck by investigators, according to media reports, including some citing a search warrant showing state agents were tracking the man’s vehicle.

The charges Manley faces are not uncommon when a witness destroys such a device used in a government investigation, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

Manley is the older brother of Dana Manley Rhoden, who was found shot to death in her home April 22, 2016. She was one of eight people -- including Manley’s niece and nephews -- killed at four locations.

Three young children were left alive at the crime scenes.

Dana and James Manley’s father, Leonard Manley, has said his son and other daughter Bobbie Jo Manley were questioned as suspects in the early stages of the investigation.

Leonard Manley told the Dayton Daily News six months after the murders that he was offended by the questions law enforcement asked because his children were close and Dana and her big brother had a “special relationship.”

“If they asked me what they asked my daughter and my son, I’d come across the desk and I’d beat the hell out of one of them,” he said. “They asked them how much someone paid them to kill that family.”

The charges against James Manley come after a flurry of activity in the investigation into the homicides of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

Officials from multiple agencies searched at least two locations Friday – a farm and a business – in Adams County.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation STAR team — a task force typically reserved for prison riots — participated in the search.

By Saturday, the search also included the Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT team. And, on that day, investigators also searched the Flying W Farm in Pike County, our news partner, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, reported.

Those searches ended Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.