State releases redacted Pike County autopsies


COLUMBUS — The attorney general’s office on Friday released heavily redacted copies of the final autopsy reports in the unsolved slayings of eight family members this year.

The documents from the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine confirm earlier accounts that all but one victim was shot multiple times in the head but otherwise provided few new details in the investigation entering its sixth month.

The release came shortly after the Ohio Supreme Court ended settlement talks between DeWine and The Columbus Dispatch, which sued the Pike County coroner for the complete reports and had opposed those talks. DeWine released the documents at the request of several media organizations, including The Associated Press.

DeWine said the documents “were prepared to balance the current needs of the active investigation with transparency of the law enforcement process.”

The fight for the full records is likely to continue in the state Supreme Court, where the Cincinnati Enquirer filed a similar lawsuit.

The slayings’ investigation is ongoing and active, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said Friday.

Seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon in southern Ohio on April 22.

As has previously been reported, one victim, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden, died of a single gunshot wound. Rhoden’s body was the last found by investigators. The shootings happened at four locations in rural southern Ohio.

The other victims were shot multiple times in the head and, in the case of 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr. — Kenneth Rhoden’s brother — in his upper body and torso as well.

The other victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr. and 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden; Frankie Rhoden’s fiancee, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.

Toxicology results, which could include the use of drugs or alcohol, were blacked out for all the victims. Evidence of injuries beyond the mention of gunshot wounds was also blacked out for all the victims.

DeWine has said those responsible for the killings were familiar with the victims, their homes and the surrounding area. His office, which is investigating along with the Pike County sheriff’s office, has also said authorities are operating under the theory there were multiple attackers.

The FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have worked with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and other agencies on the investigation.

Seven Rhoden family members were killed April 22

The Associated Press

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