On the morning of Friday, 22 April 2016 news reports of a massacre in rural Pike County, Ohio were appearing in headlines. Eventually it was learned that eight members of the Rhoden family had been murdered "execution-style" sometime, it was assumed, over the previous Thursday night-Friday morning. One woman, killed in her sleep, was found with her four day old baby alive beside her. It was implied that others had been killed in their sleep as well. In fact a total of three children ranging from four days to three years were left alive. A sixteen year old boy was, however, among those murdered.
The killings took place over four different properties, spread over a number of miles in and around the area of Piketon and Peebles Ohio. These are towns having populations of around 1000-1500 people (the entire county has under 30,000 people) so we are looking at small, close-knit communities where people know each other and a lot about each other's business.
It was clear, despite the early reports providing few details, that this was a well planned out operation aimed at executing a family...yet not their very young children, Hmmmm.
Though little was being said, it was obvious that this had to be about something more than just a "normal" crime of passion. Drugs, family disputes, revenge were all possible motives.
This past weekend we finally got a big clue. The Ohio Attorney-General disclosed that law enforcement had discovered a sophistcated marijuana grow-operation, spread around three of the four crime scene properties. So now we are getting somewhere.
Although, officially, law enforcement is not confirming a link to drugs, a large sophisticated drug-grow operation sets alarm bells ringing, no?
Here is a list of thoughts, questions, concerns and ideas that have come to me after only a modest amount of thought.
Imagine what more the professionals in law enforcement could add to the list.
· WHICH FAMILY MEMBERS WERE INVOLVED?
(a) ARE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE TRADE?
(b) HOW COULD PEOPLE NOT KNOW WITHIN FAMILY SINCE THE OPERATION IS DESCRIBED AS “SOPHISTICATED”
(c) WERE INNOCENTS KILLED?
(d) ARE PARTICIPANTS IN BUSINESS STILL ALIVE?
(e) IF SO WILL THEY TALK TO LAW ENFORCEMENT?
(f) ARE THERE OTHER RHODEN PROPERTIES?
HOW LONG IN BUSINESS?
(a) REAL QUESTION IS HOW DID THEY ENTER BUSINESS?
(b) WHO DID THEY SELL TO?
(c) DID THEY TAKE OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S MARKET?
(d) IS THERE SOMEONE WHOSE MARKET THEY TOOK OVER?
(e) HOW MUCH MONEY DID THEY MAKE?
(f) WHO TOOK MOST MONEY?
(g) WHO WAS PAID (PARTNERS/EMPLOYEES ETC)?
(h) WHO PAID-OFF?
(i) SOMEONE KICKED OUT OF THE FAMILY BUSINESS MAY HAVE TALKED?
WHERE DID THEY MARKET?
(d) IF EXPORT A LOT OF QUESTIONS:
1. TO WHERE?
2. TO WHOM?
3. HOW MARKETED?
4. TRANSPORTATION ISSUES
(e) HOW PICKED UP AND TRANSPORTED?
(f) STORAGE AND DRYING?
WHO DID THEY SELL TO?
· DID THEY INVADE SOMEONE’S MARKET?
(a) IS THERE SOME ORGANIZED CRIME IN THE PICTURE?
(c) MEXICANS (MEXICANS ARE EXPANDING NORTHWARD AND THIS IS SIMILAR TO THEIR M/O)
(d) CENTRAL AMERICAN GANGS
· WAS SOMEONE TRYING TO ENTER THEIR MARKET?
(a) SIMILAR QUESTIONS TO ONES ABOVE
· SETTLING OF ACCOUNTS?
(a) SOMEBODY OWED MONEY?
(b) ON DEBT?
(c) ON SALE?
(d) WHO EXECUTES A FAMILY FOR MONEY? MARKET? (BACK TO MEXICANS?)
· WHO ARE BIG NAMES IN LOCAL/REGIONAL DRUG TRADE?
· WHERE DID THEY GET EQUIPMENT?
(a) PARTICULAR EQUIPMENT NEEDED.
(b) ESPECIALLY IF INDOOR, LIGHTS, IRRIGATION, VENTILATION, SMELL SUPPRESSION ETC
(c) IF OUTSIDE, GREENHOUSE (OHIO HAS WINTER!!!)
· HOW COULD NO ONE HAVE NOTICED?
(b) COMING AND GOING OF PEOPLE FROM GROW-OP. (THEY WOULD ALSO SMELL)
(c) UTILITIES. HYDRO, WATER BILLS WOULD GO UP SUDDENLY
(d) OWNERS WORKING?
(e) IF WORKING, WHERE? INCOME? VEHICLES REFLECT WORK?
(f) CHRISTOPHER SR. HAD TWO PROPERTIES CLOSE BY.
1. WHEN ACQUIRED?
2. HOW PAID FOR?
3. WHO OCCUPIED PREMISES?
(g) TAX ASSESSORS?
(h) ROUTINE POLICE PATROL
· WHAT ABOUT POLICE?
(a) WHY THIS OPERATION NOT ON POLICE RADAR?
(b) POLICE SAY FAMILY NOT KNOWN TO POLICE IN CRIMINAL CONTEXT
(c) HOW IS IT POSSIBLE FOR NON-CRIMINAL PEOPLE TO GET INVOLVED IN EXTENSIVE, COMPLICATED DRUG GROW OPERATION? NEED CONTACTS ETC.
(d) THE COMMENT THAT POLICE DID NOT KNOW FAMILY FROM CRIMINAL INVOLVEMENT IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND GIVEN HOW EXTENSIVE THEIR DRUG GROW OPERATION IN AND HOW SMALL IS THE COMMUNITY. MAKES NO SENSE.
· HOW DID KILLERS GET INTELLIGENCE ON FAMILY? (WHO LIVED/WORKED WHERE? HOURS OF COMINGS AND GOINGS?)
(a) PIKETON, PEEBLES,PIKE COUNTY SMALL AND RURAL
(b) LOW POPULATION
(c) SMALL SCHOOL DISTRICT
(d) SAME NAMES EVERYWHERE
(e) SEEMS INFORMATION WOULD HAVE TO COME FROM LOCALS
(f) BUT IF OUTSIDER CAME IN ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO LIVED WHERE, WOULD BE NOTICED?
(g) WHO LOCAL WOULD KNOW?
1. OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS
2. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
3. LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
(h) BUT IF QUESTIONS START BEING ASKED ATTENTION WOULD BE DRAWN. SO WHO WOULD NOT ASK QUESTIONS?
1. LOCAL PERSON(S) INVOLVED IN PLOT
· WHO LOCAL COULD BE INVOLVED?
(a) SOMEONE WANTING TO GET IN ON BUSINESS
(b) SOMEONE EXCLUDED FROM BUSINESS
(c) SOMEONE BRIBED?
1. LOCAL GOVERNMENT
2. LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
3. LAWYER HIRED TO DO RESEARCH
(d) YOUNG PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA???
(e) LAWYER HIRED TO DO RESEARCH
(f) PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR…BUT AGAIN QUESTIONS DRAW QUESTIONS: EYEBROWS WOULD BE RAISED AND TONGUES WOULD WAG.
· ARE FAMILY MEMBERS STILL INVOLVED?