Rhoden family member’s Pike County death came from gunshot to chest

A relative of the Rhodens — the Pike County family found dead in an April 2016 mass shooting — died earlier this month of a gunshot wound to the chest under suspicious circumstances, according to the county coroner and sheriff offices.

Authorities continue to investigate Violet Renee Taylor’s June 11 death and identified a Pike County man as a suspect in the case, but no charges have been filed against him, according to an incident report obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The incident report lists the suspect as Taylor’s “acquaintance.” The newspaper is not identifying the man at this time because he is uncharged.

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The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the still-open case, according to the report. The bureau earlier this month said Taylor's case is not related to the still-unsolved shooting deaths of the eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

Earlier this month, BCI called the case a “questioned death,” meaning it was not immediately clear to investigators whether a death was homicide, suicide or natural causes, a spokesman said. On Wednesday, the Pike County Coroner’s office said the death had not been classified as either a suicide or homicide.

A 911 call placed by Taylor’s cousin reported that Taylor had “just shot herself,” initially signaling her death as a suicide. The caller said “some guy” who was with Taylor said she had shot herself.

“He came in all scared… I’m still… I don’t…,” the caller said before trailing off.

Five witnesses are listed in the incident report.

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Taylor's body was sent to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office for examination, as the Dayton-based office often assists smaller counties with autopsies. The Chillicothe Gazette reports Taylor was a cousin to the Rhodens. Taylor's funeral services were held June 18, according to an obituary.

The shooting deaths of Taylor’s relatives remain unsolved. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is running for Ohio governor, has said he hopes to solve the complex case before he leaves the attorney general’s office.

Hannah Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20; and relatives Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38 died in the April 2016 shootings.

Contact this reporter at 937-259-2086 or email Will.Garbe@coxinc.com.

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