PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Monday night's raid of the warehouse that holds the Rhoden crime scene evidence was supposed to have happened in November. Court filings show it never did.
And, for the next 82 days, court records show Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader "has neglected or refused to execute the Writ, has not returned an inventory of personal property levied upon or tagged, and/or returned any money collected or received therefrom," a Jan. 25, 2017 filing shows.
Monday night, we received a tip that Reader and more than a dozen deputies were at the Rhoden evidence warehouse, conducting some sort of operation. When we arrived around 10:30 p.m., we saw deputies carrying boxes out of the warehouse and loading them into an enclosed trailer.
Neither Reader, nor one of his deputies who confronted us along the public right-of-way, would give any details about what was going on at the warehouse. We later found out Reader was carrying out the seizure related to the civil filing against Hadsell Chemical and Relevant Compounding.
The judgment motion against Reader shows the seizure was supposed to have happened in November and Reader was supposed to have seized and tagged property belonging to Hadsell Chemical Processing, LLC and Relevant Compounding, LLC. The property is located in the same warehouse the sheriff leased space to house the four mobile homes where eight Rhoden family members were murdered.
Lori D. Meyers and Christopher L. Yearington filed suit against the companies concerning the pair's IRA accounts. The suit alleges the pair is owed $3,530,754.12 by the two companies, plus interest, the case file shows.
On Nov. 3, the Franklin County clerk of court filed a Certificate of Judgment with the Pike County court clerk's office. Then, the filing shows, on Nov. 8, the plaintiffs filed a request with the Pike County clerk to order Sheriff Charlie Reader to "levy upon, tag and sale [sic] all assets of the Debtor (defendants), including but not limited to, all of the personal property of the Defendants."
On Nov. 9, the Pike County clerk issued the writ to Reader, the filing shows. Pike County clerk Justin Brewster told FOX19 NOW by phone Wednesday, his office hand-delivered the Writ to Reader's office on Nov. 10. "It was sent over in a timely manner," Brewster said.
Franklin County court records show Reader—over the next 82 days—never carried out that order.
On Jan. 25, the plaintiff's attorney, Richard Ricketts, filed a motion for a judgment against Sheriff Reader for a $1,000 fine, the total judgment of $3,530,754.12 and another 10 percent fine of $353,075.41.
The judgment motion was delivered to Reader and to Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk on Jan. 26, the court filing shows.
The seizure of the chemical company warehouse did not happen for another three days when we saw the sheriff and his deputies executing the raid.
"On multiple occasions, the Pike County Sheriff's Office has been contacted by counsel for the Plaintiffs to determine the status of and remind them of their ongoing obligations pursuant to the Writ," attorney Ricketts wrote in the Jan. 25 motion, "The Sheriff has neglected or refused to execute upon the Writ."
Sheriff Charlie Reader declined an interview regarding the filing against him seeking fines and penalties. In a text message to FOX19 NOW investigative reporter Jody Barr Wednesday, Reader denied knowing anything about the Nov. 9, 2016 order from his county's clerk's office.
"I personally was provided the Writ in my hands on January 30th by my keeper of records and it was promptly served the day I personally received it," Reader continued in the text message.
Ohio law provides plaintiffs in a civil suit a way to hold a sheriff accountable for not carrying out an order such as the one Reader is facing in this case. Ohio Revised Code 2707.01 states Reader could be "amerced in the amount of such judgment, including costs, with ten percent thereon, to and for the use of the plaintiff or defendant."
Attorney Ricketts is asking for a judgment against Reader, naming him personally in the filing, for the maximum allowed under the law.
"The Sheriff, without valid excuse, has neglected and refused to complete the execution and make proper return of the Writ as directed," Ricketts wrote in the Jan. 25 filing.
MONDAY NIGHT'S RAID OF THE RHODEN EVIDENCE WAREHOUSE
We waited more than five hours Monday night for Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader to provide us information about the operation his office was carrying out at the Rhoden evidence warehouse.
A message left for Sheriff Reader with Pike County dispatchers was not returned. Neither was a voicemail left on Reader's cell phone.
Reader did respond to a text message early Tuesday morning, telling FOX19 NOW's Jody Barr the raid was "Not related to the Rhoden case. No further comments."
We watched Reader leave the Rhoden evidence warehouse around 3:30 a.m. where he drove past us and he did not stop.
In a Facebook post at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, Reader disclosed the purpose of Monday night's raid of the Rhoden evidence warehouse. It was not a confidential law enforcement action.
Deputies wearing uniforms and what appeared to be undercover agents gathered at the warehouse, collecting boxes of what appeared to be evidence.
The text message was the only explanation we could get from the sheriff Monday night after the multiple attempts to have him explain what his office was doing at the warehouse.
The warehouse became front-and-center in the Rhoden family massacre in May.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Pike County Sheriff's Office decided to rent space there to house the four mobile homes where eight members of the Rhoden family were murdered April 22.
Investigators said the eight were killed in their beds as they slept in four separate mobile homes.
No arrests have been made in the slayings.
In September, Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader told FOX19 NOW investigative reporter Jody Barr that he'd leased some space in the warehouse for $15,000 to store the Rhoden homes inside. That lease is up in May.
Reader also leased space outside to store dozens of pieces of equipment, ATVs, enclosed trailers and vehicles that belonged to the murdered family members.
On Monday night, we watched as deputies took boxes out of the warehouse and loaded them into an enclosed trailer outside.
Just after we got to the warehouse, two Pike County ambulances pulled up to the warehouse gate and spent several minutes talking with a deputy who was posted there awaiting the medics' arrival. The deputy eventually allowed the EMS units inside the gate. Once inside, the ambulances parked along the western wall of the warehouse.
The ambulances spent more than an hour at the warehouse.
Deputies would not tell us why they were there or why the sheriff's office appeared to be raiding the warehouse. At one point, a man who identified himself as "Deputy Brad Swinning," walked out to the right-of-way and would not answer questions about what the sheriff's office operation dealt with at the warehouse.
"I can't disclose any information at this time," Swinning said before walking back to the warehouse gate.
Around 10:45 p.m., a source called to tell us that a sheriff's office staffer radioed that he needed crime scene tape inside the Rhoden evidence warehouse.
About a minute later, we saw two uniformed deputies, including Chief Deputy James Dixon, walking inside the chemical company's office with large rolls of crime scene tape.
Around midnight, the Pike County Crime Scene Collection truck left the warehouse with a generator-powered light rig attached to the back.Another Chevrolet truck left the warehouse with the sheriff's enclosed trailer.
Both trucks went to the Pike County impound lot where deputies backed the enclosed trailer into a garage there.
The county's Crime Scene Collection truck went back to the Rhoden evidence warehouse a short time later.
One marked sheriff's office truck was still in the parking lot at 3 a.m.