( 4UMF NEWS ) Eight Family Members Killed Execution Style:
At least eight family members are dead and two blood-covered infants were rushed to the hospital after “execution style killings” on a rural Ohio property, officials and locals say.
Local police and state law enforcement are investigating four different gruesome scenes inside or near a residence belonging to the Rhoden family in Piketon, Ohio, authorities said. Three children — one just 4 days old, another 6 months old and a third, a 3 year old — survived the bloodbath, authorities said.
“One mom was killed in her bed with the four day old right there,” State Attorney General Mike DeWine told reporters Friday afternoon. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Authorities say the murderer, or murderers, should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. SDeWine warned other surviving members of the Rhoden family to be careful and take precaution in the event that the killer targeted the family and is intent on more carnage.
“The preliminary determination is that none of the eight individuals committed suicide,” DeWine told reporters at an afternoon news conference.
The victims — one of whom was 16 years old — include a grandmother, grandfather, their two adult children, the girlfriend of one of their children and the brother and nephew of the grandfather, according to what police told Pastor Phil Fulton of the nearby Union Hill church.
Each was shot in the head and “executed,” DeWine said.
Two of the “horrifice crime scenes” were within walking distance, a third was about a mile away and the fourth was about a 10 minute drive away, authorities said.
“It’s a tragic thing that has happened in our community. We’re a rural community out here in the country that’s never had something like this before,” Fulton, who knew the family when they attended his church, told the Daily News.
Fulton identified the grandmother as 37-year-old Dana Rhoden, a nurse’s aid at a local nursing home.
“(Rhoden) was a very hard-working lady, worked all the time. She loved her kids,” Fulton said. “it’s just such a tragic thing.”
Two infant babies, who Fulton identified as Rhoden’s grandchildren, were inside the home at the time. They were covered in blood when police arrived to the scene, he said.
The babies were rushed to a hospital and are expected to survive, according to Fulton. It’s unclear whose blood it was.
Police initially found seven of the bodies inside three different homes on the property and, hours later, discovered the body of an eighth person, whose connection to the other victims is still unknown.
Cops are still trying to determine whether the shooter is one of the deceased or is still at large. As of Friday afternoon, no arrests had been made.
The teenage son of two of the victims was unaccounted for, according to Fulton.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which rushed more than a dozen agents to help local police with the investigation, released a statement about the horrific crime. The FBI is also involved.
“Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader confirm that at least seven individuals are dead in what appears to be execution-style killings. All of the victims are believed to possibly be members of the same family, and they were found in three Union Hill Road homes in Piketon. Early indications are that the victims, who are believed to be five adults and two juveniles, were shot to death,” the statement read.
GOP presidential hopeful and Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the state is working with local law enforcement.
“Reports we are hearing from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehension,” Kasich tweeted.
Local schools in the community, about 75 miles east of Cincinnati, were put on partial lockdown following reports of the active shooter.
Fulton held a vigil at his church while police investigated the horrifying crime.
“We’re really just shocked with everything. We’re here at the church, we’ve opened up the church and we’re just offering comfort and prayers.”