Investigation into murdered Pike County family may never be solved
PIketon, OH (FOX19) - When the sun rose April 22, only a few people knew about the mystery that continues to haunt Pike County today. Soon, the world would know about the eight people lying dead in their beds – all shot execution-style.
Two children were spared; one was a four-day old baby.
Now, 82 days later, from the outside, it appears the Pike County investigation team is no closer today to figuring out who slaughtered the Rhoden family.
There hasn't been an update on the investigation in months.
The search warrants the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation executed through the investigation are still locked down, under seal of the court. That was the answer we got from the Pike County Clerk of Court's office when we asked to see those search warrants a few days ago.
AG CONTINUES MAKING PLEAS FOR THE PUBLIC'S HELP
From the first press conference delivered in this investigation, both Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the public this investigation would be a long one.
The men knew from the start, figuring out how eight separate people were murdered, at four different crime scenes on the same night would take some time to sort out.
That wisdom gained from years of Reader and DeWine's investigative experience is proving to be true.
"We continue to make progress on this investigation. We certainly do not have anything to report yet," DeWine told FOX19 NOW investigative reporter Jody Barr during a June 22 interview.
"This is the biggest investigation – probably – that the Attorney General's Office and BCI has ever had," DeWine said.
Since hitting the ground in Pike County the day of the murders in April, DeWine said he's had more than 90 agents working on this case at some point along the way.
There are 25 people working on it full time right now, DeWine said.
The trouble for investigators: there are no witnesses. And, it appears there are too few clues to identify the ones responsible.
"What you do when there are no witnesses, you frankly, you start working to find out everything you know or can find out about each individual victim. In this case, we had eight victims," DeWine explained as to why the investigation has appeared to have slowed.
Along with the more than 100 pieces of forensic evidence collected at the scene in the days following the killings, DeWine said his agents are currently working through thousands of pages and files of digital data. Investigators are using cell phone tracking technology to help churn up leads, as well as social media postings and social media communications to – and from – the Rhodens.
DeWine likened the investigative process in this case to a 1,000-piece puzzle, "We've got more pieces down. We've not solved the crime. We're a lot further than we were when we started, but we're certainly not in a position to make any announcement about any arrests," DeWine said.
What investigators do need is help from the public. DeWine told FOX19 NOW, his investigators could be one tip away from solving this case and made another plea for anyone with any information that they think might help the investigation, to make the call.
NO NEWS DOESN'T MEAN NO PROGRESS
DeWine acknowledged the public perception that this case appears to be growing "cold." The reason is, there hasn't been a public update on the status of the investigation for more than a month.
The silence, DeWine cautioned, doesn't mean investigators have not made progress in identifying who killed the Rhoden family. The silence is to protect the prosecution of the people who murdered this family.
"I want to keep this a clean investigation. I do not want to be putting information out for the whole public that may be potential witnesses or a person who knows something could hear, have that influence what they tell us. We just don't want the murderers to know what we know," DeWine told FOX19 NOW.
"We're frustrated that we are not there, but again, we have to keep our eye on the ball. We knew this was going to be a long investigation and we have to have patience and we're going to do it the right way," DeWine said.
That progress, DeWine said, is in the fact that investigators are still getting tips and leads. Those are coming in to the Pike County command center almost daily.
"Is it frustrating for you to have gone this far and not yet gotten a clear answer as to the person – or person – are who did this," Barr asked DeWine. "As most people who know me will tell you, I'm not really a patient person, DeWine said, "I wanted to solve this the first day, but I also knew, based on my experience, that was very highly unlikely."
"When you lie down at night, does it ever cross your mind that there is a possibility that this case may never be solved," Barr asked DeWine. "I still believe we're going to solve this case. Is it possible we never solve it? Sure. Is it possible it goes on for years and then it's solved later? Sure," DeWine said.
"I'm convinced in the end we will figure out who did it. But, we're not there yet," DeWine said.
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