Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

8 relatives shot in Ohio; killer suspected at large

- By Kantele Franko

PIKETON, Ohio — Eight members of a family, including a mother sleeping in a bed with her 4-day-old baby next to her, were fatally shot in the head Friday, leaving their rural town terrified and reeling while a manhunt was launched for the guilty party.

Three children, including the newborn, survived the grisly killings that left seven adults and a 16-yearold boy dead in four homes in Pike County, said Attorney General Mike DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader at a news conference.

The economical­ly distressed county in the Appalachia­n Mountain region has some 28,000 residents and is 80 miles east of Cincinnati.

DeWine said there were no indication­s that any of the dead killed themselves.

Reader said if the shooter — or shooters — are at large, they should be considered armed and “extremely dangerous.”

“There may be more than one, there may be three,” DeWine said. “We just don’t know at this point.”

Some of the victims were in bed, indicating they were shot while they were sleeping, authoritie­s said. The victims were identified as members of the Rhoden family.

“It’s heartbreak­ing,” DeWine said. “The one mom was killed in her bed with the 4-day-old right there.”

A motive isn’t clear, authoritie­s said, but they urged other members of the Rhoden family to take precaution­s, and Reader advised all residents to stay inside and lock their doors Friday night.

“This really is a question of public safety, and particular­ly for any of the Rhoden family,” DeWine said.

The first three homes where bodies were found are within a couple of miles of one another on a sparsely populated stretch of road, while the eighth body — a man — was found in a house within 30 miles, the sheriff said.

The other surviving children were 6 months old and 3 years old, authoritie­s said.

Reader wouldn’t say where they were taken Friday.

Authoritie­s didn’t release any informatio­n on whether there were multiple weapons used or whether anything was missing from the homes.

Gov. John Kasich, campaignin­g in Pennsylvan­ia for his Republican presidenti­al bid, said his office was monitoring the situation in Pike County.

“Reports we are receiving from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehens­ion,” Kasich wrote on his Twitter account.

The FBI in Cincinnati also said it was monitoring the situation and has offered assistance to the Pike County sheriff ’s office.

Piketon is the site of a Cold War-era uranium plant that was closed in 2001 and is still being cleaned up.

 ?? LISA MARIE MILLER/AP ?? One of the locations under investigat­ion in Pike County is shown Friday after several people were found shot and killed at multiple sites in rural Ohio.
LISA MARIE MILLER/AP One of the locations under investigat­ion in Pike County is shown Friday after several people were found shot and killed at multiple sites in rural Ohio.

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