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Friday 24 January 2020

Ohio shootings police interview more than 30 people

Crime scene investigators head for the site of the shootings (AP)
Crime scene investigators head for the site of the shootings (AP)

Police in Ohio have interviewed more than 30 people in the investigation into the fatal shootings of eight family members at four different locations.

Officers are hoping to find leads into the deaths of seven adults and a 16-year-old boy whose bodies were found in homes near Piketon on Friday.

All victims were shot in the head, authorities said, and it appeared some were killed as they slept, including a mother in bed with her four-day-old baby nearby. The infant and two other small children were not hurt.

Authorities did not release the victims' names but said they are members of the Rhoden family.

Investigators said none of the deaths appeared self-inflicted, so they believe at least one assailant is at large.

Law enforcement officials say whoever is responsible for the killings should be considered armed and dangerous.

A motive for the slayings is not known, authorities said, but they urged surviving members of the Rhoden family to take precautions.

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader also recommended area residents be extra wary.

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

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

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

The Pike County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are investigating the slayings. Pike County asked for the bureau's help on Friday morning.

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

Authorities did not 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 postal worker who told her deputies had an area blocked off.

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

Governor John Kasich, campaigning in Connecticut for his Republican presidential bid, said his office was monitoring the situation in Pike County and the search for the killer or killers.

"But we'll find them, we'll catch them and they'll be brought to justice," he said.

The FBI in Cincinnati also said it was closely monitoring the situation and has offered assistance if needed.

Economically-distressed Pike County, about 80 miles east of Cincinnati on the western edge of Appalachia, has about 28,000 people, more than a quarter of whom live in poverty. The area is home to a shuttered Cold War-era uranium plant that is still being cleaned up.

PA Media

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