Rhoden family member charged with destroying evidence released from jail

Family member under arrest in Rhoden massacre investigation
Published: May. 16, 2017 at 6:57 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
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James Manley (Ross County Jail)
James Manley (Ross County Jail)
Manley's dad said the GPS was found here inside the frame rail of the truck. (Jody Barr, FOX19...
Manley's dad said the GPS was found here inside the frame rail of the truck. (Jody Barr, FOX19 NOW)

PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - After spending less than 24 hours behind bars, a man arrested in connection to the Rhoden family massacre investigation has been released from jail.

James Manley, 40, of Pike County is charged with tampering with evidence, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Manley is accused of destroying a GPS device that was part of the investigation into the murders of the eight members of the Rhoden family last spring. He is a brother of one of the victims.

[Rhoden relative on lack of arrests: Investigators 'couldn't catch a cold']

Manley appeared in court Wednesday morning. His bond was set at $80,000 and with another scheduled court appearance was set for May 22.

Someone bailed him out by 6 p.m., according to the Ross County Jail.

Investigators placed a GPS tracking device on Manley's truck on April 22, according to a Pike County search warrant.

"Said vehicle being used as a means of the commission of the crime of in the possession of another person with the intent to you use the vehicle as a means of committing crime," the warrant reads.

Manley is not a suspect in the case, officials said. The Attorney General's office called him a "witness" in the investigation.

Law enforcement showed up at his home on Monday to remove the tracking device. However, Manley's father, Leonard Manley. told police his son discovered the GPS on April 28 inside the frame rail where the spare tire would go and removed it, according to court documents.

Authorities say the charges Manley faces that are connected to the Rhoden family slayings are not uncommon when a witness tampers with evidence in a government investigation. He is charged with one count of tampering with evidence, a felony of the third degree and one count of vandalism, a felony of the fifth degree.

Manley's case is a major development in the year-long murder mystery of the Rhoden family, marking the first arrest in the investigation.

The Rhoden family killings consisted of four crime scenes in Pike County: 

Law enforcement have accelerated the investigation that has had no major public breakthroughs in nearly a year, marking the Rhoden family massacre as one of the most prolific unsolved cases in the nation.

On Friday and Saturday, several state and county investigators were searching a farm in Adams County, roughly 10 miles away from the Rhoden family massacre scene. A second search in Peebles was conducted Friday along State Route 41. Earlier Saturday, several police and government vehicles were seen leaving Flying W Farms in in Piketon on Camp Creek Road. Authorities have not detailed what evidence, if any, was collected.

Over the weekend, multiple law agencies searched three areas for evidence: 

In overnight hours of April 21 and 22 in 2016, eight people were shot to death in four homes near Piketon in rural southern Ohio.  Six adults and a 16-year-old boy were discovered to have been shot execution-style. An eighth victim was found with nine gunshot wounds.

Three young children and two infants were left alive during the shooting.

The victims in the case are: Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20, Dana Rhoden, 37, Gary Rhoden, 38, Hanna Rhoden, 19, Hannah Gilley, 20, Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

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