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

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 6:47 PM

Geneva Rhoden poses with a poster at the Big Bear Lake Family Resort in Lucasville on Thursday, April 20, 2017. BROOKE LAVALLEY / THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Geneva Rhoden poses with a poster at the Big Bear Lake Family Resort in Lucasville on Thursday, April 20, 2017. BROOKE LAVALLEY / THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Geneva Rhoden spent a year waking up, losing sleep and shedding more tears than she cares to count.

“I would like to say from a mother’s heart, that I hurt so bad inside from the day that I found out,” Rhoden said about the methodical executions of her sons Christopher Sr. and Kenneth, her grandchildren and grandson’s fiancee.

“I think about it day and night.”

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Rhoden and her daughter, Teresa Grebing, issued a gripping plea for answers Friday, a day before the anniversary of the Pike County murders of eight people.

News of the killings a year ago today caught the eye of the nation for a moment. But as the cameras, satellite trucks and reporters left, what remained was a family in pain and a $10,000 reward for the tip to end their nightmare.

RELATED: Pike County murders: 5 unanswered questions 1 year later

The video — announced moments before its release by Attorney General Mike DeWine on WHIO Radio’s Miami Valley Morning News — is a plea from the family for answers and more donations to the Crime Stoppers reward. For nearly 30 minutes, Rhoden and Grebing describe their loss in what DeWine called “gut-wrenching” detail.

“Please, please, please come forward,” Grebing says with increasing emotion, crackling the audio. Between sobs, she expresses comfort in knowing her lost family members would make the same plea for them had fate cast a different lot. She professes hope in knowing some day “the case will be cracked and we will have answers.”

“Please end this nightmare we’ve been living,” she says.

The Rhodens — Christopher Sr., 40, Christopher Jr., 16, Dana, 37, Gary, 38, Hanna, 19, Kenneth, 44, and 20-year-old Frankie — died April 22, 2016, with Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20, in four homes across Pike County.

DeWine told WHIO’s Larry Hansgen it is “hard to tell” if would-be tipsters are withholding information more due to fear of prosecution or retaliation for speaking out. But he doesn’t “think there’s any doubt … there are people who know things they are simply not telling us.”

“Anyone who has information and is afraid to give it to us because it might implicate them in some growing of marijuana or some sort of involvement in drugs, we want to assure them our focus is not on that,” DeWine said. “Our focus is on eight human beings who have been killed.”

But still, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said the fear of becoming another victim exists.

“The fear of retaliation from whoever these killers are, that’s real,” he said.

Anyone with information on the murders is asked to call the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or the Pike County Sheriff’s Office at 740-947-2111.

To make a donation to the reward fund, write a check to Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers. In the memo line, indicate the donation is for the Rhoden murders. Checks can be mailed to Deputy Dave Weber, c/o: Ross County Sheriff’s Office, 28 North Paint St., Chillicothe, Ohio 45601.

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» Timeline: The shocking events of the Pike County shooting
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» DeWine on Pike Co. shootings: Someone involved ‘knew the territory’
» Ohio covers funeral costs for Pike County murder victims

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Rottweiler dies in hot car at county jail, woman visitor arrested on the spot 

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 10:45 PM

Woman Visiting Jail Arrested After Rottweiler Dies In Hot Car

A Georgia woman left her Rottweiler in her car for five hours while she was in court at the Gwinnett County Jail, causing the dog’s death, sheriff officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

Connie Wright Gomez, 46, has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

Gomez went to the jail as a “court visitor” around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, leaving her dog, Rambo, in her car, she told deputies. She left the windows open about an inch.

Around 6:30 p.m., deputies heard Gomez mention she had left her dog in the car. One of the deputies went with Gomez to the car to check on the dog because the weather had been warm all day, with a high temperature of 82 degrees. When they arrived at the car, Rambo was dead.

Related: Dog dies after being left in Animal Control officer’s truck

When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gomez was arrested and booked into jail. She is being held on a $16,700 bond.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway expressed dismay at the case.

Conway started the Operation Second Chance “jail dogs” program, which matches jail inmates with adoptable dogs and cats. The inmates train and socialize the animals. 

“I hope this poor dog’s horrific death reminds pet owners to make responsible choices for their pets,” Conway said. 

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Nearly 30 cars broken into at Atlanta apartment complex in one night

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 3:20 AM

Atlanta police say 28 cars were broken into at an apartment complex. Most had nothing of value in plain view.
WSBTV.com
Atlanta police say 28 cars were broken into at an apartment complex. Most had nothing of value in plain view.(WSBTV.com)

Residents at Aspire Lenox Park Apartments in Atlanta are wondering what it will take to stop the recent spike in car break-ins at their complex.

Nearly 30 cars were broken into overnight Saturday. In many cases, the doors were locked and nothing of value was visible. Victims still ended up with shattered windows. 

“It’s not like they’re breaking into unlocked cars. They’re all locked cars, and it’s just -- there’s no rhyme or reason,” resident Bailey Beckham said.

>> Read more trending news 

Atlanta police told WSB 28 cars were targeted, mostly in the parking deck.

“I hadn’t heard that number. I know there were eight the other weekend, but 28 is a lot,” resident Alex King said.

"It's kind of scary because we don’t know why or what's going on or how we're going to stop it. It’s just nerve-racking,” Beckham said.

The break-ins have been especially frustrating for victims like Ryan Colley, who had nothing visible in his car and nothing taken.

“It’s devastating and it hurts because we had to pay out of pocket. Our deductible, of course, and the insurance is $500, and anything below that you have to pay out of pocket,” Colley said. 

Residents said they received emails about increased patrols and security, but there are mixed opinions on the results so far.

“They say they’re going to hire some security. I haven’t seen anything yet,” Colley said.

“I guess that's helpful, but I just don’t know how we’re going to stop it if we don't know how many people or where or when,” Beckham said.

“Maybe setting up cameras in the area, so if they don’t catch the people and this continues to happen, at least they have cameras and can find them a little easier,” King said. 

Residents told WSB they are clearing out their cars but are still on edge because it has not stopped the break-ins.

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Police: Suspected ice cream eating burglar causes Kettering school lockdown

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 2:52 PM

Suspected ice cream eating burglar causes Kettering school lockdown

A man who was suspected of breaking into a Kettering home early Thursday morning and eating the victims’ ice cream was later arrested after causing a school lockdown, according to police.

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Around 1 a.m. Thursday, Kettering police responded to a home in the first block of Abbott Drive after the occupants found a man inside their home, according to a police incident report. 

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“(The occupants) woke up to find (the) suspect in their residence eating ice cream, going through their personal items, and fled the scene, leaving his clothing behind,” the report said. 

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The man was able to flee on foot, taking a victim’s wallet, but left behind his shoes, jeans, and hat, police said. 

Around 9 a.m., administrators at Greenmont Elementary School in Kettering initiated a lockdown after receiving a report of a suspicious person on school property, a Kettering police spokesman said. 

“Officers responded and after a search of the area, located the subject near Smithville and Watervliet (roads),” the spokesman said. 

The man, later identified as Jonathan Jacob Hazelbaker, 23, was arrested for an outstanding warrant for his arrest and booked into the Kettering City Jail. 

The school returned to normal activities after Hazelbaker was taken into custody, police said. 

Hazelbaker, who hasn’t been charged in connection to the break-in, was later booked into the Greene County Jail, where he’s being held on $20,000 bond, online records show.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com.

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Registered sex offenders get surprise visit from deputies

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:02 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:02 PM


            Butler County sheriff’s deputies spent Thursday verifying the addresses of registered sex offenders in the county.
Butler County sheriff’s deputies spent Thursday verifying the addresses of registered sex offenders in the county.

Butler County sheriff’s deputies spent Thursday verifying the addresses of registered sex offenders in the county.

Beginning at 9 a.m., 15 teams of deputies began the annual verification operation of nearly 500 registered sex offenders.

MORE: Man exposed himself at West Chester Kroger, police say

Periodic spot checks of offenders are conducted throughout the year, but mass verification is conducted annually.

“This operation is vital to keep the people in this community safe by keeping track of where these sex offenders are. If they are not following the orders of the court, they go to jail. It’s that simple,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

For more information about Butler County registered sex offenders, log into www.butlersheriff.org and click “SORN” at the top of the page. You can check to see if any offenders are living near your residence as well as register to be notified if anyone moves near you.

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