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.

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Dayton woman loses 2nd Chihuahua to neighbor’s dogs 

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 12:56 AM

A Chihuahua was mauled to death Saturday afternoon by a larger dog owned by a neighbor.

The 1-year-old dog named Ace was chained outside shortly after 12:30 p.m. when a dog, also named Ace, came from across the street in the 5300 block of Dushore Drive and ripped the smaller dog off the chain and ran with it in its mouth.

After the larger dog’s owner, identified as Jeffrey Cox, got his black Labrador retriever mix back inside, another of Cox’s 11 dogs got out and charged the Chihuahua owner and her husband, who had to fend it off the second dog with a metal chair until Cox could secure it, according to a Dayton police report.

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The Chihuahua owner told police it was the second dog she lost to one of Cox’s dogs; the last time was when her previous Chihuahua was killed in the fall of 2016, according to the police report.

The Montgomery County Animal Resource Center took the dog that killed the Chihuahua.

It is not clear whether Cox’s 11 dogs were licensed or had previous complaints documented against them.

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

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SUV hits buggy: Woman killed, husband, 2 infants critical; driver jailed in Shelby Co.

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:11 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 4:00 PM

Crash

UPDATE @ 4 p.m.

A Sidney man is facing aggravated vehicular homicide charges in connection to a fatal crash involving an SUV and horse-drawn buggy.

Steven Eugene Hunter, 42, was booked into the Shelby County Jail early this morning. He is being held without bond.

Steven Eugene Hunter(SHELBY COUNTY JAIL)

A 23-year-old woman was killed, and her husband and two infant children all remain in critical condition at hospitals in Dayton.

The Amish family who lives in the Maplewood area all were ejected from a buggy that was struck from behind just before 9 p.m. Friday on state Route 47 near Tawawa-Maplewood Road in Shelby County near the Logan County line.

(JIM NOELKER / STAFF)

UPDATE @ 11:50 p.m.

A 23-year-old woman was killed and two infants and a man critically injured Friday night after they were ejected from a buggy in an alcohol-related crash.

“The preliminary investigation indicated that the buggy was westbound, properly lit, on state Route 47. A westbound SUV struck the buggy from behind,” Lt. Tim Bender of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said of the deadly crash involving four members of a local Amish family.

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The crash happened just before 9 p.m. in the 22000 block of state Route 47 West near Tawawa-Maplewood Road in Shelby County near the Logan County border.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Two infants were flown by CareFlight to a Dayton hospital, and a man was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. The infants and man “are in critical condition at this time,” Bender said.

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None of the victims’ names have been released.

The SUV driver, whose name also has not been released, attempted to flee but his vehicle was stuck so he ran on foot, the lieutenant said.

“He was apprehended by Logan County Sheriff’s deputies about a mile from the scene,” Bender said. “It is possible the driver of the vehicle was alcohol-involved.”

The SUV driver suffered minor injuries.

“The horse (pulling the buggy) also had minor visible injuries and was taken to a farm nearby,” Bender said.

The 911 call originally went to Logan County because the crash happened so close to the county line,and both agencies are handling the crash jointly, Bender said.

The SUV driver will be cited for assured clear distance and likely will face more charges in the fatal crash.

FIRST REPORT

Crews were called tonight to a serious crash between a vehicle and buggy.

The collision was reported just before 9 p.m. in the 22000 block of state Route 47 West, near Township Road 33 North.

According to initial reports, there are at least three people injured.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office dispatch said no other information was available at this time.

Two CareFlight medical helicopters have been requested.

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

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Victims in double fatal shooting outside Dayton club ID’d

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 6:14 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 10:21 AM

Crews were dispatched around 3:40 a.m. to 1824 Lakeview Ave. at the Blue Note Jazz Club on a report of a shooting, according to Sgt. Schloss of the Dayton Police Department.

UPDATE @ 10:15 a.m.:

The two victims who died after a shooting this morning outside a Dayton nightclub been identified.

Darion Harris, 29, of Dayton died at the scene and Ashley James, 28, of Dayton died of her injuries at Miami Valley Hospital, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

INITIAL REPORT

Two people were killed in an early morning shooting outside Rick Jazz Lab.

Crews were dispatched around 3:40 a.m. to the 1800 block of Lakeview Avenue on a report of a shooting.

A 27-year-old man died at the scene and a woman was taken to Miami Valley Hospital, where she died, Sgt. Thomas Schloss of the Dayton Police Department said.

The victims were found shot inside a blue Ford pickup truck outside the club, Schloss said.

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Police are not releasing if they have any suspects at this time

Anyone with information is urged to call Miami Valley Crime Stoppers at 222-STOP(7867.)

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

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2 arrests made during OVI checkpoint in Greene County

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 3:31 AM


Getty Images/iStockphoto
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Two drivers were arrested on suspicion of impaired driving Friday night in patrols in the area of OVI checkpoints held in Beavercreek and Fairborn.

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The sobriety checkpoints took place on Colonel Glenn Highway from 8 to 10 p.m. in Beavercreek and 10 p.m. to midnight in Fairborn, Lt. Matt Schmenk of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Xenia Post said.

Five motorists were evaluated for impairment during the checkpoints but no arrests were made. Two OVI arrests were made during the checkpoints through extra patrols in the area for the checkpoint, Schmenk said.

The checkpoints were held by OSP, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the Beavercreek Police Department and the Fairborn Police Department.

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