Trish Bennett, Editor
CIRCLEVILLE – Local law enforcement and other groups are doing whatever they can to help Pike County in the midst of a multiple homicide investigation in Piketon.
Eight people were discovered dead Friday morning after being shot “execution style” in their homes, according to press releases issued by the office of Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General.
The victims, all members of the Rhoden family, have been identified as Hannah Gilley, age 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr., age 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr., age 16; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, age 20; Dana Rhoden, age 37; Gary Rhoden, age 38; Hanna Rhoden, age 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, age 44.
No arrests had yet been made at press time, and a $25,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the crimes, DeWine said.
As Pike County officials and investigators from the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) descended on the four crime scenes Friday morning, Sheriff Robert Radcliff, Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, said he offered his department’s services for assistance.
“I knew they had their hands full, and sometimes you can get too much help,” Radcliff said. “So we reached out to let them know we had people and to let us know what they needed and when they needed it.”
The request came fairly quickly, Radcliff said, and he along with Deputy Erick Eberhard and the canine officer Turpin were on hand Friday evening when a person was taken in for questioning in Chillicothe.
In addition, Radcliff said two Pickaway County deputies are performing road patrol in Pike County Saturday night to relieve their local deputies who have been working non-stop since the murders were discovered Friday morning.
The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office also has been requested to assist with security at the four crime scenes on Tuesday as part of an ongoing rotation of surrounding law enforcement agencies.
“Anything we can do to help, we have offered it,” Radcliff said.
But law enforcement aren’t the only ones jumping in to help. Thad Hicks, director of the Disaster Management program at Ohio Christian University, also provided assistance throughout the day Friday with colleague Ethan Allen, the university’s mobile unit and aid from the Salvation Army and Box65, the scene support auxiliary unit for the Circleville Fire Department.
“I started making phone calls and called Mark Adkins from Box65,” Hicks said. “I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a request in Pike County with the Salvation Army to assist with meals tonight and do some snacks, water, coffee, that sort of stuff.’ And he jumped right to it, marshalled all his guys and within just a couple of minutes, he was pulling everything together.”
Hicks said the groups were able to provide about 15 Zanzi’s pizzas, bags of chips, granola bars, fruit snacks, water and other supplies to help sustain investigators and law enforcement officials throughout the evening and overnight Friday.
“They didn’t want anyone going to the actual crime scenes because the bad guys were still out moving around, but we delivered meals to several locations,” Hicks said.
He said he also put out word that OCU, the Salvation Army and Box65 stood ready to assist with anything else they may need while the investigation continues. Saturday night, Hicks said the group was requested to provide lunches the following day, so he and the disaster unit will be headed back to Pike County on Sunday.
“It was honestly kind of neat to watch that community mobilize during this situation,” Hicks said. “Churches were starting to get together and do fried chicken meals and that kind of thing and were bringing it out to the officers. It’s a terrible thing to happen to a community, but it really brought everyone together. And it’s nice for us to be able to do something to help.”
Dr. Mark Smith, president of Ohio Christian University, said he was pleased the university was able to offer assistance during this crisis, and he hopes those involved will use it as a learning experience.
“It’s a horrible situation, but one of the things about our students is that they love to serve,” Smith said. “To be able to assist the deputies and all the folks that are there doing the hard work is an eye-opener for them. Our students, especially the ones in the Disaster Management program, are going to get into all kinds of things. This is one of those experiences you don’t want but one where these students will learn how to cope and deal with these horrible situations.”
Smith said the thoughts and prayers of everyone at OCU are with the people of Pike County during this tragedy.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal