Friday 20 July 2018

Killer hunted after eight relatives are murdered in Ohio

SAFETY ALERT: Authorities set up road blocks around the crime scene in rural Ohio yesterday. Photo: John Minchillo
SAFETY ALERT: Authorities set up road blocks around the crime scene in rural Ohio yesterday. Photo: John Minchillo

Kantele Franko

Authorities urged residents to be on their guard and cautious in Piketon, Ohio, yesterday as the search continued for whoever fatally shot eight members of a family at four different properties, including a mother in bed with her four-day-old baby nearby.

Investigators interviewed more than 30 people hoping to find leads in the deaths of the seven adults and 16-year-old boy whose bodies were found last Friday in homes southwest of Piketon.

All victims were shot in the head, authorities said, and it appeared some were killed as they slept. The four-day-old baby and two other small children were not hurt.

Authorities didn't release the victims' names but said they're members of the Rhoden family. Investigators said none of the deaths appeared self-inflicted, so they believe at least one assailant is at large.

A motive for the slayings isn't known, authorities said, but they urged surviving members of the Rhoden family to take precautions. Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader also recommended area residents to be extra wary.

"This really is a question of public safety, and particularly for any of the Rhoden family," Attorney General Mike DeWine said.

Reader said on Friday night that authorities had met with more than 100 relatives and friends of the Rhoden family at a church.

DeWine dismissed a report that the people authorities questioned included a person of interest.

The first three homes where bodies were found are within a couple of miles on a sparsely populated stretch of road, while the eighth body, that of a man, was found in a house further away.

Authorities didn't release any information on what kind or how many weapons might have been used or whether anything was missing from the homes.

Goldie Hilderbran said she lives about a mile from where she has been told a shooting took place - news she received from a mail carrier who told her deputies had an area blocked off.

"She just told me she knew something really bad has happened," Hilderbran said.

Meanwhile in another mass shooting in the US, a man who shot and killed five people on Friday in two separate attacks was found dead in his home early yesterrday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The body of shooter Wayne Anthony Hawes, 50, was recovered by authorities in his northeastern Georgia home,.

The Columbia County Sheriff said that the Friday night shootings stemmed from a domestic dispute that left three men and two females dead.

Hawes' daughter said her father was a "ticking time bomb" and had threatened to kill her grandmother and mother a day before the fatal shootings. Her grandmother was shot, but Hawes' wife was not among the dead.

Sunday Independent

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