Pike County mass killings: Today’s searches prompt more questions

UPDATE @ 7 p.m. (May 13):

A large-scale, cross-jurisdictional search effort is ongoing at locations in Adams and Pike counties.

“It’s correct that we were continuing our search today,” Dan Tierney, spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office said this evening.

However, Tierney said he was unable to comment on specific locations searched, what law enforcement was looking for nor whether the searches are connected to the Rhoden family killings last year near Piketon.

The searches are part of a joint investigation among the AG’s office and its Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the sheriff’s offices of Adams, Pike and Franklin counties, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections special tactics and response team.

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Tierney said no arrests have been made in connection to the searches nor the Rhoden slayings.

UPDATE @ 10:29 p.m.:  An Adams County sheriff’s deputy continued to block Peterson Road at Ohio 32 tonight.County auditor property records and a background check indicate a 71-acre property near the intersection on Peterson Road, in Oliver Twp., is co-owned by Edward Jacob Wagner and George W. Wagner IV. 

One of the victims of the slaying, Hanna Rhoden, had a 2-year-old daughter named Sophia Wagner, who was not with her when she and seven other people were gunned down in their homes. 

Sophia Wagner’s father is Jake Wagner. 

It is not clear if Edward Jacob Wagner and Jake Wagner are the same individuals. 

Hanna Rhoden was found dead lying next to her other daughter, who was just 4 days old. The baby was one of three young children left unharmed. 

Additionally, authorities searched the business address of Unlimited Motors, according to this news outlet’s partners at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati. Unlimited Motors is owned by Brian K. Brown, according to state records.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation STAR team — a task force typically reserved for prison riots — each took part in the search.

RAW VIDEO: New police searches in Pike Co.

UPDATE @ 8 p.m.

The investigation into the unsolved murders of eight people in mass shootings in Pike County more than a year ago came to the forefront Friday with multiple reports that properties in the area were being searched.

The two properties, including a car lot and a farm, are near the near the line between Adams and Pike counties, the Ohio Attorney General's office told our news partners, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

The sites are a few miles from the four crime scenes where eight members of the Rhoden family — seven adults and one teenager — were found dead on April 22, 2016.

The attorney general's office, however, would not say if the search specifically is related to the Pike County murders.

"BCI is participating in a search operation in that part of the state," said Dan Tierney, a spokesman. "It's a joint operation between the attorney general's office, BCI, the Adams County Sheriff's Office, the Pike County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections STAR team."

"I can't comment on the nature of the investigation," Tierney said.

He also said the attorney general's office did not expect to release additional information Friday.

Investigators last month said they have reviewed more than 800 tips related to the case and conducted more than 400 interviews. They also had executed 38 search warrants before the one-year anniversary.

The killers shot to death husbands, wives, sons, daughters and fiancees.

Three small children were spared: one 3 years old, and two infants -- one 6 months and a 4-day-old -- snuggled in bed next to a mother who had been shot execution style.

Marijuana grow sites were found at the homes of Kenneth Rhoden and Chris Rhoden Sr., both of whom were killed.

A $10,000 reward is available and officials want to increase the amount, saying anyone interested in donating may call 1-855-BCI-OHIO.

EARLIER REPORT

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Pike County Sheriff’s Office and Adams County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a search operation at an Adams County farm, according to our partners at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

The scene is near the Adams/Pike County line, the Attorney General’s Office told WCPO.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation would not confirm whether the search was in connection to the Pike County murders last year.

MORE: Pike County murders: ‘There will always be a scar on this town’

RELATED: Pike County Murders: DeWine says case remains priority

Pike County murders: 1 year later

MORE: Pike County shooting victims: A closer look at the 8 who died

IN-DEPTH: Pike County murders: What’s really going on?

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