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4 possible motives in Pike County shooting

Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 @ 12:33 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

            NewsCenter 7 anchor Cheryl McHenry discusses 4 possible motives in Pike Co. massacre
NewsCenter 7 anchor Cheryl McHenry discusses 4 possible motives in Pike Co. massacre

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

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

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said that investigators have not ruled anything out — including the possibility of a Mexican drug cartel connection — and that they are looking at everything.

DeWine said Wednesday afternoon it will take time to put the pieces of the investigation together.

“We’re going to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” DeWine said, indicating that the attorney general’s office would go anywhere in the country to find anyone involved in this investigation.

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.

Then 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 press release DeWine’s office issued at that time. Investigators discovered about 1,200 marijuana plants — which were destroyed — and they also found evidence of two abandoned campsites they believe belonged to Mexican nationals.

Additionally, 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 found 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 at least one was indoors and there appeared to be several hundreds of plants.

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

CBS News reported 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 this was a random act of violence or a crime committed by another member of the Rhoden family.

“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).”

DeWine said that this shooting is not like other recent mass shootings across the country.

“This is not that type of situation,” DeWine said after touring the crime scenes Wednesday. “This is an old-fashioned, cold-blooded massacre of eight human beings.”

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

Seven of the deceased 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 in bed. All the killings occurred 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 press conference, Reader said he warned other Rhoden family members to be on guard.

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

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

Manley said his daughter was a kind person who’d “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 found them and called him, Manley said, noting that he’s taken the sheriff’s advice and has armed himself.

Facebook threat?

DeWine told WHIO Radio’s Larry Hansgen Wednesday morning that his office has received 300-plus tips.

“Whenever you have a case where you have a body is found and there are no witnesses there, it’s just very difficult,” DeWine said. “It’s looking like a big, huge jigsaw puzzle. You take one piece of evidence and that fills in part of it, and after a while it starts to become clearer. We’re still in the interviewing stage of this investigation. I don’t expect any breakthrough in the immediate future.”

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

Jones told CBS News 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,” Jones said, crying. “These were also friends of mine and that I went to school with.”

Mongold, Jones’ friend, said in an April 23 Facebook post that he had nothing to do with the shooting — even going to the sheriff’s office to clear his name and submit a DNA sample.

That Facebook post three days ago stemmed from an April 12 Facebook post that alluded to a “kid that hit me with his car” and wanting to “beat his skull in” — a perceived threat on 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 the Rhoden family was involved in cockfighting.

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

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Miamisburg HS uses national pastime to honor America’s heroes

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 8:02 PM


At Miamisburg High School, the national pastime also is an opportunity to honor America’s heroes.

The varsity baseball team on Saturday held its annual Veteran Appreciation Game, this time when they played Bellbrook High School.

Both teams started by shaking the hands of veterans across different generations, followed by a 21-gun, salute, then a rendition of taps.

“It’s just a way for us to honor people that don’t normally get enough credit,” said Miamisburg head coach Steve Kurtz.

>> UD and DECA students help clean up Five Oaks neighborhood

After the national anthem, professional skydivers from Team Fastrax brought down the ball for the first pitch, thrown by a Gold Star father, Paul Zanowick.

“It was an honor I think our son was smiling down,” he said.

He and his wife, Nanette, lost their son, Marine Cpl. Paul “Rocky” Zanowick II, almost seven years ago in Afghanistan. 

“I’m very touched and very proud of this community and what we do for the veterans and they honored our son today to make it extra special,” Nanette Zanowick said. 

>> Volunteers help at Five Rivers MetroParks 31st annual Adopt-a-Park event

“Not everywhere in the country is there so much care and concern for the military, but it is here,” Paul Zanowick said. 

Veterans are the real winners of the game, with proceeds from T-shirt sales benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Kurtz said he’s glad to support the veteran community. 

“It’s good to see that they smile and they know that we do care and we are extremely grateful for what they’ve done for us,” he said.

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Prince Charles will succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 5:32 AM

Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles, attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey last month.
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles, attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey last month.(WPA Pool/Getty Images)

It’s official: Prince Charles will succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth, the BBC reported.

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The Queen had said it was her “sincere wish” that the Prince of Wales succeed her when she dies. Leaders of the Commonwealth discussed the issue before making their decision, the BBC reported.

Unlike the British crown, the lead role in the Commonwealth is non-hereditary, the BBC reported.

At a news conference, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised the Queen for her "vision and duty" in growing the Commonwealth from eight members to 53. She said it was "fitting" Prince Charles would succeed her due to his "proud support" of the Commonwealth "for more than four decades."

The role is largely symbolic and carries no maximum fixed term, the BBC reported.

The Queen turned 92 on Saturday. Charles, her oldest child, is 69.

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Queen Elizabeth turns 92: 5 fun facts

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since 1952, when she was 25.
WPA Pool/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since 1952, when she was 25.(WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II turned 92 on Saturday, and after 65 years on the throne, she holds the distinction of ruling longer than any monarch in the United Kingdom’s history. 

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The queen actually celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday, which is April 21; and one in June when she hosts a parade -- weather permitting -- called “Trooping the Color.”

Here are some other fun facts about the Queen: 

One queen, many presidents and popes

Harry S Truman was in the White House and Pope Pius XII was on the throne of St. Peter when Elizabeth II was coronated in 1952. Thirteen U.S. presidents and seven popes have served during her reign.

Her French is tres bien

The queen speaks fluent French, as evidenced by this video:

She has met rocket men (and women)

The queen has hosted Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; and Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the crew of Apollo 11 that was the first crew to land on the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon in July 1969.

Mechanically inclined

The monarch received driving and mechanic training as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

Olympic experience

Elizabeth is the first head of state to open two Olympic games in two different countries. She opened the 2012 Summer Games in London and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Sources: The official website of the British Monarchy, wire services.

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Volunteers help at Five Rivers MetroParks 31st annual Adopt-a-Park

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 4:23 PM

Five Rivers MetroParks held its 31st annual Adopt-a-Park cleanup event Saturday in honor of Earth Day. 

Volunteers of all ages helped remove trash, plant trees, repair trails, and prepare flower beds at more than 2 dozen sites. 

Volunteers received a free lunch at Riverscape and a T-shirt for their efforts. 

"We see families, individuals, church groups, students and children participate in Adopt-a-Park,” said Kevin Kepler, volunteer services manager for Five Rivers. 

“The community really comes out in full force, which is great because all this important work couldn't be accomplished without our dedicated volunteers. It's the perfect occasion to celebrate Earth Day with your fellow Daytonians,” Kepler said. 

RELATED: University of Dayton and Deca Prep High School students clean up Five Oaks

Last year, more than 1,800 volunteers removed 65,000 pounds of trash, 32 miles of river ways were cleaned and more than 15 acres of invasive plants were removed, according to a press release. 

"I think the success of this event reflects the community's support of MetroParks' mission to protect the region's natural heritage," said Kepler. 

Adopt-a-Park is sponsored by Vectren and Barrett Paving Materials, Inc. 

To find out more about Five Rivers MetroParks, log on to or call 937-275-PARK (7275).

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