Marijuana 'grow operations' found at multiple Pike Co., OH crime scenes

Rhoden family spokesperson address media
Published: Apr. 22, 2016 at 1:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2016 at 3:31 AM EDT
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Above the shooting scene (CNN)
Above the shooting scene (CNN)
Officials have blocked off most of Union Hill Road where the family members live. (FOX19 NOW)
Officials have blocked off most of Union Hill Road where the family members live. (FOX19 NOW)
(SOURCE: FOX19 NOW/Daniel Beaver)
(SOURCE: FOX19 NOW/Daniel Beaver)

PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called the killings of eight Rhoden family members pre-planned and sophisticated.

Officials confirmed evidence collection is finished at the four crimes scenes where the victims were killed, but an Ohio Attorney spokeswoman told the Associated Press that authorities have yet to release specific details on the findings.

DeWine revealed, however, marijuana was found at three of the four crime scenes, calling them "grow operations."

Spokeswoman Jill Del Greco told AP on Sunday that investigators want to keep the scenes preserved until all the autopsies are completed.

The search continued Sunday for the gunman or gunmen in the family slayings in Piketon.

On Saturday, DeWine announced the names of the eight family members that were killed execution-style in four different Pike County crime scenes Friday morning.

The victims were found inside four separate homes along Union Hill Road.  Three of those homes are within a 1.5 mile walking distance, investigators said. The fourth home, where the final victim was located, is about 10 miles from the other family homes.

The victims have been identified as 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.

DeWine stated over 30 people have been interviewed. At this time, there could be one, two, three or more possible shooters.

"Investigators from Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and local law enforcement worked through the night, talking to individuals, gathering information, and executing search warrants," DeWine said in a press release. "Evidence from the crime scenes is being processed and analyzed through the weekend."

DeWine also said he was in contact with Gov. John Kasich Saturday morning to give him updates on the investigation.

Dana Rhoden's father said he believes the killer(s) knew the family well stating the dogs would have 'eaten up' a stranger.

"They had to of been around all the time," he stated.

Three people were interviewed in Chillicothe, about 40 miles northeast from the shootings that killed the eight family members in Piketon.

The Chillicothe Gazette reports a car was stopped as the result of a BOLO from the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and state agents. The vehicle was stopped at Main and Watt streets just after 6:30 p.m., reports state.

In a press conference Friday night, DeWine said the interviews in Chillicothe were just part of an ongoing investigation and would not go as far as calling the interviewees were "people of interest."

The gunman or gunmen, who shot eight family members Friday morning, is believed to be armed and extremely dangerous, according to Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. He went on to say residents in the area should, "lock their doors and stay alert."

"My heart goes out to my county," Reader stated.

The seven adult victims and one 16-year-old male were shot in the head "execution-style," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

On Saturday, a spokesperson from the Ohio Crisis Response Team spoke on behalf of the family. The full statement is below:

"The Rhoden family would like to thank everyone for all the outpouring of prayers and support for their family. They ask to continue to keep them in your prayers. 
They would like to thank all law enforcement from Pike County and surrounding counties for their immediate response. Especially, to Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader for all his hard work. They would like to thank the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, his staff, BCI agents, all EMS services and first responses.    
Special thanks to Pike County victim advocated David Dickerson and the advocates responding from surrounding counties. They would like to give a special thanks to the Ohio Crisis Response Team for proer care and support. 
They ask for everyone to be respectful of their family and for their loss at this time.
Also, they have a plea to anyone that has any information in this matter to call 1-855-BCI-OHIO." 

Reader believes the Rhoden family was targeted in the mass shooting.

"We are taking every precaution," Reader said. "My staff along with Ross, Jackson and Adams County agents are going to go and find other family members to check on them and to make contact with (the Rhodens)."

At a press conference Friday afternoon, DeWine and Reader urged the public to come forward with tips about the crime and gunman. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-BCI-OHIO.

[RELATED: 911 calls released in Pike Co. family slayings]

The four-day-old that survived the killings was sleeping in a bed as one of the victims was shot, DeWine said during a press conference on Friday.

A preliminary investigation shows that none of the eight killings were by suicide, officials said.

Family members of the victims have gathered at a nearby church, according to Union Hill Church Pastor Phil Fulton. He said some of the children were transported to the hospital.

"We are doing everything in our power to reach out to the Rhodens," Reader told the media on Friday. "If they need anything they can contact my office or they can come to Piketon Police Department and we will do what we can and everything we can for them."

LIVE BLOG: Follow updates from the scene

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation sent a large number of agents to lead the investigation. Multiple other agencies are assisting BCI and Pike County at the crime scenes.

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Gov. John Kasich tweeted: "Reports we are receiving from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehension."

He also tweeted: "We'll continue to monitor this closely and the state will work w/local law enforcement however we can."

Federal authorities said in a tweet they are closely watching and ready to assist.

All Adams County Ohio Valley Schools were on precautionary lockdown until 11 a.m., meaning no one was allowed in or out, school officials said. The schools are located about 10 miles from the shooting scenes.

Piketon is a rural area about 75 miles east of Cincinnati.

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