Though there was not a lot of new information, reporters learned a couple of focal points of the now-year-long investigation into the murders of eight members of the Rhoden family in Pike County during a news conference held by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader Thursday morning in Columbus.
DeWine said they are still asking people to come forward and give them information and Reader believes the killer or killers are still in the immediate area.
“I feel they are local to the community. I have that belief,” Reader said. “I feel that every news conference that we do, the killers are watching and they’re listening and they’re trying to find, just as you guys (reporters) are, just where we’re at and what we’re doing and that’s partly why we share no information. Someday they’ll get tired of looking over their shoulder, as we get closer, and there’ll be a day when they look and it’s going to be us. That’s my stance and my belief. When you’ve been to the scene in the rural area where this happened, it’s obvious they knew the area well and they knew the family well.”
Both were asked to speak directly to the perpetrators.
“We’re going to find you. We’re going to arrest you,” DeWine said.
DeWine described the scope of the investigation.
“In the history of BCI, this is their biggest investigation, in the sense of the number of the biggest number of interviews; biggest number of hours that have been spent on this case,” DeWine said. “We still have, on any given week, 10-12 people who are in Pike County on this case. So, we really do know a whole lot more than we did the first time I stood up in front of you all. We know, candidly, a lot more about what has been going on in Pike County in regard to criminal activity.”
DeWine said he did not know about the alleged drug activity prior to the investigation. He said he likens the case to a large puzzle and each bit of information is just another piece of the puzzle. He said when you do that, at some point you get a picture, however investigators do not have a picture yet.
“We still have a lot of potential leads,” DeWine said. “Every one of those tips we run in the ground and by putting it all together cumulatively there’s certainly different possibilities.”
DeWine then called for people to come forward with what they know about the case.
“There are people in Pike County who have information,” DeWine said. “We would ask them to come forward, even after a year, to still come forward and still give us the information.”
DeWine cautioned people who are afraid, because of their own illegal activities, to come forward, that their crime is not the focus of the interview. The focus is on the homicides. While he stopped short of allowing the use of the word “immunity,” he did reiterate that they were not concerned about anything but the information on the homicides.
“It’s better that these individuals do it on their own than if we have to drag them in,” DeWine said.
A reporter noted to Reader that he was becoming emotional when he was addressing the press conference.
“I’ve never seen (pause as he regained his thought) an entire family murdered in the fashion that they have been,” Reader said. “It’s not something that you walk into every day. I’ve been a part of murder investigations all my career, and very successfully solved those murders in my career, but this is so much different, when you have mother’s children in the wombs and fiancees lying next to each other, there’s things that at the crime seen that had to be processed and that we had to contend with, that my eyes have never seen before in that type or fashion. It is overwhelming.”
Reader said – “at the end of the day, we’re still human.” He said he has an 18 year old daughter and a 15 year old son, and that is comparable to the ages of at least two or three of the victims. “It hits close to home,” Reader said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.