Cannabis grow operations were discovered at the Ohio homes where eight members of the same family were found murdered this past Friday. This is the newest detail in what is an ongoing investigation.
Ohio state Attorney General Mike DeWine broke the news during a press conference this afternoon.
When asked how much authorities had been able to figure out so far, DeWine said: “We will not be telegraphing or telling the bad guys everything we know.”
But he was willing to share one new bit of information.
“Let me go ahead and I think it’s OK for me to confirm that we did find marijuana at three locations.”
One official has since provided a bit more detail, saying that the cannabis grow operations were “not for personal use; it was for something much bigger than that. It was a very sophisticated operation.”
It appears that officials discovered the cannabis grow operations while they were searching the woods around the crime scenes. They did not confirm what role they think the marijuana may have played in the massacre.
But Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader noted that drugs are a problem in the area where the Rhodens lived.
In particular, Pike County, Ohio has high rates of heroin and meth use. And while Reader didn’t specifically mention cannabis, the discovery of the cannabis grow operations has led many to wonder whether or not the killings had something to do with drugs.
The bodies of eight members of the Rhoden family were found in their homes this past Friday. Almost immediately the case grabbed national attention largely due to the brutal nature of the killings.
The discovery of what many are now calling a massacre came early Friday morning. At 7:49 a.m., local 911 dispatchers received a call from a woman who said she’d found two bodies.
“I think my brother-in-law is dead,” the woman said on the call. “There’s blood all over the house.”
“It looks like someone has beat the hell out of him. I think they are both dead. The door was locked when we got here, but I knew where the key was at, so I went in and they were laying on the floor.”
From there things only got worse, as law enforcement soon found themselves discovering body after body.
While deputies were investigating the first home, people flagged them down and pointed them to two more homes, both on the same street, both occupied by more members of the Rhoden family.
When officials entered those homes, they discovered five more bodies.
Then, later that day, 911 received yet another call. In this one, a male caller said that he’d found his cousin, Kenneth Rhoden, dead with what looked like a gunshot wound.
“I just went in hollering at him, and checked if he was all right,” the man told dispatchers. “And I looked up at him and he had a gunshot wound.”
Authorities have described the killings as “a preplanned execution of eight individuals.” The victims ranged in age from 16 to 44.
Reports have said that all eight victims were systematically shot in the head “execution style.” It’s suspected that many of the victims may have been sleeping when they were shot.
“We’re treating this as a mass murder,” said Reader. “This is not something you prepare for.”
Perhaps the most brutal of all the attacks was the shooting of a mother who had her 4-day-old infant asleep next to her.
The newborn survived the attack, along with a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old who were sleeping in the same home.
The methodical nature of the murders, along with the fact that all eight victims were members of the same family, have led authorities to believe the killings were part of a carefully orchestrated attack that was specifically targeting the Rhodens.
Investigators believe that the slayings may have been carried out by more than one killer. At least one of the killers may still be at large, they said.
So far police have interviewed 50 to 60 people about the case. They’ve also received more than 100 tips and sent in at least 18 separate pieces of evidence for lab testing.
Although the case has generated a great deal of speculation regarding why the Rhoden family may have been targeted, law enforcement officials have not revealed any details about why they think the family may have been so brutally attacked.
Sherriff Reader told other Rhoden family members that they could also be targets. He told them to be careful and to arm themselves.
One member of the Rhoden family pointed out that Christopher Rhoden, who was killed in the massacre, was the father to all but one of the younger victims.
As with any other details—including the newly discovered cannabis grow operations and the family’s possible connections to drug activity—what this may mean has yet to be determined.
In all, the victims are: Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Hanna Rhoden, 19; Hannah Gilley, 20; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.