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Cold Case Killing Of Ohio Family Could Be 'Professional Hit,' Expert Says

It's been two years since eight members of the Rhoden family were found systematically executed in Ohio. 

By Gina Tron

The 2016 mass killing of a family of 8 in Ohio, one of the state’s most infamous unsolved crimes, have the "aspects of a professional hit," an expert says.

"It has aspects of a professional hit, but I don't think it was a cartel hit or anything like that," Dr. Jennifer Murray, a mass killings expert and associate professor at Indiana State University, told WLWT-TV in Cincinnati on Thursday. "They're not usually this cleanly done. Usually, you can see right away who did it.”

The family members were systematically executed in one of the state's most infamous unsolved murder cases, recently released autopsy reports reveal.

Following a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, reporters viewed preliminary autopsy reports in the slayings of Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his 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; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden, and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden. The bodies were all found the morning of April 22, 2016, with the shootings believed to have taken place hours before. Three children were found unharmed.

The Attorney General's Office, which is investigating the killings, made single-page reports for each victim available for inspection earlier this month. Under Ohio law, reporters can only view the information and are prohibited even from taking notes. No photos were released.

Rhoden family

The report for victim Christopher Rhoden Sr. said he was shot nine times and notes without explanation that his body was decomposed "more than all the others." He suffered a defensive wound to his right forearm and another bullet went through a door before hitting him, the Chillicothe Gazette reported. He was discovered in the back bedroom of a trailer.

A gun was pressed to the head of Gary Rhoden, the autopsy report revealed according to the Chillicothe Gazette. Kenneth Rhoden’s body was found in a camper three miles from where his brother was killed. He died of a single gunshot to his right eye. Dana Manley Rhoden was shot three times on the right side of her head and once under her chin, according to the Chillicothe Gazette. Her body was found in the same camper as her children Chris and Hanna. Christopher Rhoden, Jr., was shot in the head several times and Hanna was shot twice in the head. Hanna was found in bed with her 5-day-old daughter, who was not killed.

Inside a separate trailer, Frankie Rhoden and Hannah Gilley were also shot to death in their bed, their 6-month-old son found spared and nestled in between them. Gilley was shot under her left eye.

Authorities suspect there were multiple attackers who were familiar with the victims' homes and the surrounding area, about 70 miles south of Columbus. Murray told WLWT that she suspects that whoever is behind the murders may have hired professional help.

"It's two years later and they haven't indicted anybody,” she said. “So they did a pretty good job and I don't think the average family typically knows how to do that. So there's a potential they may have hired someone.”

The office of Attorney General Mike DeWine has said Christopher Rhoden Sr. had "a large-scale marijuana growing operation," leading some to speculate the killings were drug-related.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo: Pike County Sheriff’s Office]

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