Cost of Pike County murder investigation on the rise

One month ago, April 22, 2016, the region, state and even the nation was rocked when word reached the surrounding communities, and spread nationwide that some individual or several individuals entered three mobile homes on Union Hill Road in Pike County and another on Left Fork Road and brutally murdered eight members of the Rhoden family execution style by gunshots to the head. Amid a flurry of social media rumors, reports of arrests and an abundance of theories, not much more has come from the deadly scene since that night.

The fact that it has seemingly gone on without an update comes as no surprise to those conducting the investigation

“The nature of these cases, at least in my own experience, has been that they take some time to put the pieces together,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “You come upon a body. Or in this case, you come upon eight bodies, in four homes. The killers are long gone. And then it’s the old-fashioned detective work. You just have to put this together one piece at a time. That’s what the men and women that we have here at the command center are doing. Those who are out doing interviews – they’re doing the old-fashioned police work.”

Since the major investigation begun on that spring night, it has continued to cost law enforcement departments and counties and that cost has continued to climb with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman said he does not know the cost yet to his county.

“It’s not something that is easy to quantify,” Beekman said. “You can quantify the overtime, and I don’t have an exact amount offhand and we’re trying to figure it. Basically what we have is a situation where we believe that expenses from the Attorney General’s office and BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) will be covered by the state, or at least most of them.”

Beekman said more than 40 sheriff’s departments have been on duty at the crime scene.

“Most of those expenses apparently are going to be covered by those counties or the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association (BSA),” Beekman said. “And, of course, we’ve had our own overtime. We’ve had our own fuel costs and we’ve had to move the trailers where the killings took place and secure them in another location, because this may be a capital murder case.”

According to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, overtime paid to employees from March 20, 2016 to April 16, 2016, totaled $5486.64, but the next pay period – April 17, 2016 to April 30, 2016, the overtime costs rose to $18,053.82 and the period of May 1, 2016 to May 14, 2016, the overtime costs soared to $37,588.42 bringing the overtime in the sheriff’s office for the pay periods that fell since April 17 to $55,642.24.

“We have expenses there that are considerable, but we don’t know at this point how it’s going to be because there’s some other issues that we’ve not even considered,” Beekman said. “What makes this so difficult is, it’s such a unique situation that nobody has ever been through it before and we’re hoping that maybe there’s some state funds that will help us, but we don’t know that.”

Scioto County’s assistance has been much less where overtime is concerned.

“I had 162 hours, and that broke down into 64 hours of overtime, which was $1,920,” Captain Robert Woodford of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office said. “I had 98 hours of regular paid hours, which was $2,058.”

In addition, Woodford broke down to 8 hours of patrol, where Scioto County sent an officer to to help guard the crime scene. He also had 50 hours for two investigators. The sheriff’s office spent 104 hours on the funerals. They took care of the viewing on May 2, 2016 at the Roger W. Davis Funeral Home in West Portsmouth from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and they worked the funeral on May 3, 2016. Prior to that, on April 29, officers were present at the funeral at Botkin Funeral Home in Otway.

“We don’t really have a lot of involvement because the funerals, that was our deal,” Woodford said. “But they didn’t really request much from us. They only asked me once for 8 hours and I fulfilled that and I told them if they need more to call me but they never did call anymore.”

Woodford said the lack of the need for Scioto personnel was good for the county.

“I’m operating pretty slim anyway, but I would have done all I could,” Woodford said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office reports some 90 employees from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have been deployed to the Piketon area since the homicides were discovered.

“We don’t tabulate our salary figures, including BCI by case alottment,” Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine’s office, said. “Most of our staff are salaried employees. Some of them are overtime eligible, but our overtime is calculated on an office-led basis and not specific to a case worked or something like that.”

Beekman said there is one thing people need to keep in mind.

“This is such a horrific thing that there is no precedence for it,” Beekman said. “And you don’t know what it’s going to take. But by the same token you have to pursue it at least to the end or as close as you can get. You just accept these things and hope at some point you’re going to be able to handle them.”

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Law enforcement works the crime scene follow the murder of 8 people on Union Hill Road in Pike County enforcement works the crime scene follow the murder of 8 people on Union Hill Road in Pike County
Law enforcement overtime continues to mount

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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