– One or more shooters are believed to be on the loose, “armed and risky”, after a brutal string of shootings in four homes killed a total of eight family members in southern Ohio Friday, investigators said.
The investigation continues into the Pike County mass shooting, lead by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.
The Pike County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are investigating the slayings.
No one else has access to the properties where the eight victims were found fatally shot near Piketon, about 100 kilometres south of Columbus.
Officials have identified the eight victims killed in multiple shootings in Pike County on Friday. There’s also a small memorial honoring all of the victims at the intersection of OH 32 and Union Hill Road.
One of the victims was a young mom who was murdered as she lay in bed with her 4-day-old child, who escaped harm amid the slaughter.
“They have to be some cruel people”, said Gambill. “And those who carried it out were trying to do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution”, DeWine said. “And I went in, and they were laying on the floor”, she said. “What can you say?”
According to a release from DeWine and Reader, the bodies of the victims have been transferred to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.
Pastor Phil Fulton, of Union Hill Church, said one of the dead is 37-year-old Dana Manley Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden’s ex-wife.
All of the victims were members of the Rhoden family.
On Friday afternoon, an eighth body was located in a fourth residence about 8 miles away, Reader said.
A Cincinnati businessman has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters. 40; their daughter, Hanna Rhoden, 19; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fianceé, Hannah Gilley, 20; Kenneth Rhoden, 44, who is Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother; and Gary Rhoden, 38, a cousin.
Investigators made contact with the Rhoden family and death notifications were being made Friday night, officials said.
“We’re advising family members to be very careful and take particular caution”, DeWine said.
Hanna Rhoden was in bed with her newborn baby nearby, authorities said.
Three children were left unharmed: a 3-year-old, a 6-month-old, and a 5-day-old baby.
Mr Reader said he would “suspect the family was being targeted”.
The exact timing of the shootings remained unclear. Evidence from the crime scenes was being analyzed and processed over the weekend, officials said.
Two of the crime scenes are within walking distance of each other along a sparsely populated, winding road that leads into wooded hills from a rural highway.
“There’s blood all over the house”, a woman identified as “Bobby” told police in the initial, frantic 911 call after finding two of the bodies Friday morning.