Six funerals on Tuesday for those killed in Ohio family massacre

Reuters News
Posted: May 03, 2016 10:52 AM

By Kyle Grillot

WEST PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Reuters) - More than a week after eight family members were found shot to death at four separate homes in rural Ohio's Appalachian foothills, funerals for six of the victims were scheduled for Tuesday as investigators continue to comb through evidence.

The victims, all members of the Rhoden family ranging in age from 16 to 44, were executed on April 22 in a planned, "sophisticated operation," officials said. Federal and state officials found three marijuana cultivation sites at one of the homes, but have declined to say whether they are linked to the deaths.

Officials have also declined to reveal details of the investigation to avoid tipping off suspects. They have sent more than 100 items to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation's crime lab for DNA, ballistics and fingerprint analysis.

The Ohio Attorney General's office declined to comment further on the case on Tuesday.

Investigators have said they are not assuming the killings in Pike County, about 95 miles (150 km) east of Cincinnati, were committed by one person. Local media have quoted unidentified law enforcement officials as saying many theories are being considered, including a family feud or even the involvement of Mexican drug cartels.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency are involved in the investigation.

Many of the victims were shot in the head as they slept, authorities said. Three children were found alive.

The first of the funerals was held last Thursday in northern Kentucky for Gary Rhoden, 38.

Six family members, including Christopher Rhoden Sr, 40; his ex-wife Dana Rhoden, 37; their three children Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20, Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; as well as Christopher Sr's brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, were scheduled to be buried on Tuesday, starting at 12 p.m. local time in West Portsmouth, Ohio.

Hannah Gilley, 20, Clarence Rhoden's girlfriend and mother of a 6-month-old boy who survived, will be buried Saturday in Waverly, Ohio, according to a funeral home. Clarence Rhoden's 3-year-old son and Hannah Rhoden's 5-day-old daughter, who was sleeping with her mother, also survived.

(Reporting by Kyle Grillot and Kim Palmer, Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Dan Grebler)