Nearing 8:00 AM on April 22nd, 8 members of the Rhoden family are killed execution style in their homes in Pike County, Indiana. It’s quite a horrific disruption to the quiet community, and it has no doubt shaken the entire county.
But what’s so different about this mass shooting than one with (usually) an easy-to-find perpetrator? We don’t know who did it, and the victims were shot execution style. Something had to be going on.
“We are not assuming it is one person,’’ said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine during a midafternoon news conference.
“As much as we would like to share information with you and the public, we have no intention in doing anything that will jeopardize this case,” DeWine said during the news conference.
With that being said, why all the secrecy? Found at three of the four murder scenes were large-scale marijuana grow operations. DeWine said that the possibility of the Mexican drug cartel being involved has not been ruled out. Many motives were considered, but the drug business has the most evidence and makes the most sense to the public at this point.
In 2010, state officials announced that they found 22,000 marijuana plants in the town of Latham which is 15 miles west of Piketon. In August of 2012, Ohio law enforcement found “a major marijuana grow site in Pike County with suspected ties to a Mexican drug cartel,” with the discovery of 1,200 more marijuana plants. It appears as though the marijuana is being grown for commercial use because it’s in such large quantities.
“There’s a drug problem in most areas around here,” Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said.
Another theory is the possibility of a feud between families. It is unlikely (but not ruled out) that this crime was committed by another member of the Rhoden family. The victims of the crimes did not have any records or contact with Reader’s office, so it was clear that they are not in the wrong.
“Whoever done it, know the family,” father of victim Dana Rhoden Leonard Manley said. “(Because) there were two dogs there that would eat you up. But I ain’t gonna say no more.”
The criminal(s) are deemed “still on the run” as well as “armed and dangerous.”
“This is a pre-planned execution of eight individuals. It was a sophisticated operation and those who carried it out were trying to do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution,” DeWine said.
To restrain from endangering anyone else, everyone working on the case is keeping their mouths shut.
Elizabeth Meyer ’17