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Pike County Officials Are Still Searching For Killers In Friday's Mass Shooting

photo of Sheriff Charles Reader

Law enforcement officials said Sunday that marijuana plots have been found at several locations near where eight members of a southern Ohio family were killed execution-style.

For Ohio Public Radio,  WOSU's Sam Hendren reports that the state attorney general says he believes the murder investigations will be “a very lengthy process.” 

Since eight members of the Rhoden family were found shot in the head Friday, officials have received more than a hundred tips, conducted 60 interviews and carried out five search warrants. Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader says the surviving family members -- and anyone else who feels threatened -– should get a gun.

"I’ve specifically told the Rhoden family that I would be armed. And I would use to what extent that they have to, to protect themselves and their family. And if any citizen of this county feels that they are in jeopardy or serious physical harm or death then they can take those same measures."

Most of the autopsies are complete but officials won’t release the results.

Authorities in Pike County are urging residents to be cautious as the search continues for whoever shot the family.

Sam Hendren on Pike County shootings

Residents attending Piketon’s annual Dogwood Festival were somber.  Shawn Walker says she was stunned by the deaths.

“We never had nothing like this in Pike County.  It’s always been quiet,” Walker said.

Stacy Rose and Pamela Collins learned of the killings west of town around noon Friday.

“Pretty sad,” Rose said.

“Yeah, it’s just awful.  People going in and doing that to people,” added Collins.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were shot in what authorities say was “execution-style.”  The bodies were found in four rural Pike County homes.  Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said Friday afternoon that authorities were still piecing together details of the killings.

“At this time I can confirm that we have eight bodies in this county.  All were adults except for one male juvenile,” Reader said. 

Early reports stated that young children had been killed but authorities say that information was incorrect. State Attorney General Mike DeWine joined Reader for a press conference in Piketon.

“This is just, you know, it’s heart-breaking.  I mean, the one mom was killed in her bed with the four-day-old right there,” DeWine said.

DeWine sent in state investigators to assist local authorities in their investigation.  So far, DeWine says, it’s not known how many shooters are involved.

“We have one person who is armed and dangerous.  And there may be more than one.  There may be two, there may be three.  We just don’t know at this point,” DeWine said.

At the Friday press conference DeWine ruled out murder-suicide.  He says none of the fatal wounds appeared to be self-inflicted. 

“The individual or individuals who committed this crime obviously are dangerous.  We would advise people of Pike County certainly not to panic but certainly also to be careful,” DeWine said.

Authorities say the surviving Rhoden family members are receiving police protection.  Sheriff Reader says more than two dozen people have already been interviewed in the investigation.