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Pike County killings: Eight relatives shot dead on farm were killed by ‘professional hit’, expert says

The 2016 shooting that left eight family members dead on their Ohio farm was likely carried out by professional killers, a mass killings expert said last week.

Dr. Jennifer Murray, an associate professor at Indiana State University, told WLWT that the April 2016 slayings had “aspects of a professional hit” and didn’t appear to be carried out by a drug cartel, as the killings and the crime scene were relatively neat.

The eight victims—including a teen boy and girl—were found dead at four homes located on the Piketon property. The victims include the following: parents Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, and Dana Rhoden, 37; their three children, Hannah Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Frankie Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancee, Hanna Gilley, 20; the three children’s uncle, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and the children’s cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.

The theory comes as officials recently released autopsy results. The autopsy stated that most of the Rhoden family was shot multiple times, with Christopher Sr. being shot nine times and Dana Rhoden suffering five gunshot wounds to the head, according to the news station.

Though authorities believe the shootings were linked to drug trade, no arrests have been made. As CrimeOnline reported last year, officials said Christopher Sr. ran a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property “with the purpose of distributing the marijuana.”

This summer, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said they’re zeroing in on one family who could’ve had a role in the 2016 slayings. The Dayton Daily News reported that the Wagner family lived near the Rhodens in Ohio but now reside in Alaska.

READ More: Pike County killings: Ohio SWAT searches properties near where eight family members were shot execution style

Edward Jacob “Jake” Wagner, 25, fathered a child with Hannah Rhoden. Neither Edward nor his three relatives, George “Billy” Wagner, his wife, Angela Wagner, and their other son, George Wagner, have been named as suspects. At one point, authorities were reportedly combing a property where Jake supposedly left various possessions, a 71-acre farm previously owned by Jake, and a 300-acre farm owned by his grandparents.

“Despite what has been said and alleged, the Wagners were on friendly terms with the Rhodens,” attorney John Kearson Clark Jr. said in an email to the newspaper. “Therefore, the Wagners had no reason to wish them harm.”

 

[Photo: Rhoden family/Pike County Sheriff’s Office]