FILE – In this April 27, 2016, file photo, Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine, right, speaks to reporters alongside Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, left, during a news conference in Waverly, Ohio. DeWine and Reader planned a news conference Thursday, April 13, 2017, about the unsolved killings of seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family whose bodies were found at four homes near Piketon, Ohio, on April 22, 2016, as the anniversary of the massacre approaches.
Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Pike County Murders: DeWine says case remains priority

An emotional Pike County sheriff and Ohio’s optimistic attorney general stood Thursday before the state’s press corps and disclosed what has been known from the start — solving the eight Rhoden family murders remains a priority, but they can’t say if they’re close to solving the case.

The one-year anniversary of the brutal rural southern Ohio slayings is April 22. In the intervening 356 days, 10-12 investigators were in the county any given week tracking down more than 800 tips, taking 400 interviews — including multiple interviews of the same individuals — and executing 38 search warrants.

And making zero arrests.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Pike County Sheriff talked to the media Thursday morning and provided an update to the Rogan family deaths from 2016.

Attorney General Mike DeWine and Sheriff Charles Reader declined to discuss possible motives, a time-frame for the investigation or scenarios that have been ruled out. But, they said the case is always on their minds.

“I think about this every morning, and it’s the last thing I think about every night,” said Reader at a conference in DeWine’s high-rise office over the Statehouse. “I see the look of disappointment when I speak with the family, and I look into their eyes and see the grieving they still have.”

Dead from the middle-of-the-night slayings at four different homes were eight members of the Rhoden family, including wives, husbands, sons, daughters and fiancees. Spared were three children, ages 3 years, 6 months and a 4-day-old baby snuggled in bed next to a mother shot execution style.

Mentioning these surviving children drew the recently re-elected sheriff to tears.

“There’s babies that will grow up without their mothers or their grandparents,” Reader said. “They’ve missed birthdays and anniversaries. I think about them on Thanksgiving and Christmas and what the family may be going through.”

Reader and DeWine insist a lack of disclosure about new details will protect the integrity of the investigation — the largest in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation history. They also insist the case is not cold, and that there exists — somewhere in the county, or elsewhere — someone with answers.

“We will find you,” Reader said to the killer or killers. “We will arrest you, and you will be prosecuted.”

DeWine — Ohio’s top cop, all-but-official candidate for Ohio governor and former Greene County prosecutor — reiterated several times his belief that persons involved in drug activity could be withholding information from investigators.

“This is a homicide investigation,” DeWine said. “It’s not that we don’t care what you’ve done with drugs — we care, but our focus is on the homicide, and so people should not be concerned about coming forward and disclosing information that may be helpful in the investigation that also incriminates themselves.”

There were three marijuana grow sites at the homes of Kenneth Rhoden and Chris Rhoden Sr., both of whom were killed. This criminal activity, Reader said, was “minute” compared to their slaughter.

“Regardless of their lifestyle, they were human beings,” Reader said.

He noted a $10,000 reward is available in the case and pleaded for donations to increase the amount. Anyone interested in donating, he said, may call 1-855-BCI-OHIO.

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