Ohio killings: 'This was a preplanned execution'
Several grow spots in this area supposedly linked to cartels
I have followed this too....I think it's very unlikely it's related to anything directly tied to a TCO. I would think competing rural clans or one town over, like 'Justified' sort of thing. Thats way too much attention. If it was it wasn't sanctioned by people down south.
I agree J. They definitely pissed someone off they shouldn't have. At least the 4 day old was spared in the one bright spot. Have you read anything about the two RGV CISD employees bound and murdered?
I too have been following this story. It may not be directly coordinated with a DTO, but it was carried out professionally. It seems that way as the cops have 0 public leads.
Its interesting that cock fighting was going on at the properties also. We all know how much narcos like cock fighting in Mexico. However I couldnt see a cartel causing this much heat over a marijuana grow op. Unless maybe someone in the family was pushing alot of coke or heroin and slipped up big time..Its a fishy story. Reminds me of the family of four or five that dissapeared in San Diego some time back. Everyone thought they were killed by the cartels but come to find out a bussiness associate killed the whole family and buried them out in the California desert.
SD seems reasonable, but all the way up in Ohio? Come on...
I think the cockfighting and marijuana grows are rural operations, further evidence of some sort of local family, I won't say 'crime family' but something along the lines of multiple members of a family being involved in various criminal/borderline pursuits for financial gain.....
As to who did it....It's interesting some family members are talking to the press, if it is a rival family or members of a rival group, they know who did it. Maybe there was a communication gap between members or sub sects of the family.
In almost every case of 'cartel related' violence in the US, extreme, meaning multiple killings or kidnaps/torture, it has been on the ground distributors working for reps from a groupt, not actual TCO members, nor did they instruct anyone to kill anyone else. They simply needed to pay a debt. Cases in point: the 5 men in Alabama in 2008, and the kidnap/finger chopping in Minnesota last year, or maybe 2014.
One more point, if it was a question of debt, substantial marijuana grows would be collateral to pay when the product is harvested. so, maybe a refusal to pay a debt, but not a debt itself. And rural, small towns, these people love their guns, love their shooting ranges, camo fatigues, military style training, it's perfectly reasonable a group of 2 or 3 could have pulled this off....A very personal/business related grudge is my guess.
This makes me think of some unsual incidents in the Monterey County in CA.
There been at least half a dozen instances of people getting chased out to the country side and getting a leg or two chopped off with a saw.
The last incident, the guys survived, even after loosing about half his blood. More amazing that the local news is not reporting anything nor the cops have said anything. This has been going on with the "paisita" population, which makes me think it might be cartel related.
Another interesting note. There has been a lot of push from big Marijuana growers to start growing it commercially around here, but this area is very conservative so it's been a very slow process. That might be attracting these possible narcos too.
Just an observation in my area.
I haven't been following this case closely, but I just stumbled on this story. Not sure if anything new is in here, or if County Prosecutor Junk knows what he's talking about. The headline is certainly eye-catching:
Mexican cartels have used Pike County for pot grows
Jona Ison, Gannett Ohio 6:28 p.m. EDT April 25, 2016
The remoteness of Pike County's wooded countryside makes it a perfect place for Mexican cartels trying to grow marijuana stateside.
In 2010, an estimated 22,000-plant crop was found about 4 miles into the woods off Green Ridge and Grassy Fork roads. Two years later, another 1,200 plants were found on the other side of the county just off Hickson Road. No one was arrested either time, said Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.
"Everybody who was working those things took off before law enforcement could catch them," Junk said.
Officials said items left behind at camp sites used to guard the crops linked the operations to cartels. Cartels have been tied to similar operations elsewhere in the state, including another in 2010 where hunters tipped off officials to a camp and grow site at the Coshocton/Muskingum county line. Officials found 6,000 plants and 11 men were taken into custody.
The two marijuana operations in Pike County, valued at an estimated $23 million, are the only cases Junk recalls being related to some kind of organized crime. However, the execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family on Friday have people wondering if there hasn't been something lurking under the surface and under the noses of law enforcement.
Although commercial marijuana operations were found growing at three of the four murder scenes, officials have not said whether they believe they have anything to do with the deaths.
"We have a drug problem in Pike County like everybody else, mostly heroin and methamphetamine," Junk said.
Drug and narcotic offenses tripled in Pike County between 2013 and 2014, according to the FBI's National Incident Based Reporting System. Statewide, offenses increased just over 11 percent.
At least part of the increase can be attributed to the Pike County Sheriff's Office recommitting resources to drug investigations with the U.S. 23 Major Crimes Task Force. Pike and its law enforcement partners in Ross, Pickaway and Fayette counties all dedicated investigators back to the task force in early 2014. The task force's efforts had been limited for several years as departments made cuts to accommodate tighter budgets caused by the recession.
That year, the task force also took in 1.4 pounds of heroin, a half-pound of crack, 509 prescription painkillers, more than 289 pounds of marijuana, and indicted 63 for trafficking heroin and six for trafficking marijuana, according to reports filed with the Department of Public Safety.The task force is regularly finding meth labs across the region, often after receiving tips like one in January that led them to a Piketon motel and a Dumpster. In 2014, the task force reported finding 81 meth labs and indicting 85 people for manufacturing meth and 12 for trafficking meth across its region.
Investigators also have a new criminal drug venture showing up. In late January, a package at the Piketon post office arrived smelling of marijuana, leading law enforcement eventually to a "shatter" lab on Beaver Creek Road, where a large amount of oil was being extracted from marijuana, Junk said. Like meth labs, shatter labs are volatile and prone to exploding.
The extracted oil can be added to food products or a cigarette, with just a few drops being as potent as a full joint, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
No arrests have been made in the case and Junk has yet to see the case because investigators are still awaiting lab results, he said.
I think a majority of these 'cartel grows' discovered in California and other states, are really just Mexican nationals, hired by white growers and distributors. The task force finds Santa Muerte and Malverde candles and charms and think they are connected to a cartel, when they are just undocumented immigrants, putting their skills or labor to use in the US. I have yet to see a marijuana grow linked to a federal indictment that provided details of actual members or representatives of Sinaloa or Gulfos, or Juarez, whatever, actively maintaining a grow operation as part of an ongoing conspiracy.
In reply to this post by Tully
I agree with you about these being Mexican nationals who are just grunts for people financing the grows and distributing the product, but I have never heard of one of these massive grows involving whites.
Where I live they found 50,000+ plants a few years ago, and the entire crew was run by a guy from Michoacan [I think he was from Apatzingan] and most or all or the workers were from Michoacan. When I heard about the first big bust involving Mexicans in the West it was in Idaho in the late 90's and they were financed by a local Mexican businessman and they had 20,000 plants at one site, with several more sites. He would bus in the workers disguised as tree planters, and when they were busted after a flyover, the locals said they had seen these buses going up and down forest service roads for at least 5 years, so they go away with it for a long time.
When they find these big grows, it can take 4-6 weeks for the cops to cut down and burn the massive crops.
Still, I think these guys are mostly independent from organized crime in Mexico, and any crossover connections are simply business.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
I wasn't aware of those Kid, thanks. I still don't think it's 'cartel' related, in the way that word is used....They have become like Russians in the 80's, an all powerful villain on which much blame falls.
I agree, if the owners are not white, they are not directly connected to Mayo Zambada, or Chapo Isidro, I don't think these guys send cells to the US to set up grows. I don't know for sure, but as I said, I have yet to see an indictment, detailing such an operation.
Your contributions are missed.
Cockfighting events usually deal with big money. Sometime local derbys in South Texas would be between 20 - 30K. So id believe an event up North the stakes would be higher. Even though Mexicans and Mexican Americans like myself enjoy going to these event it is still a sport dominanted by caucasians.
In reply to this post by Kab
I grew up in Monterey County and there is no real cartel presence there....for sure there are plenty of Sinaloans and Michoacanos and people from all over Mexico who sell there goods there but not a real cartel presence....just families peddling there goods...if there was a real cartel presence then they wouldn't be getting ripped off by the local gangs as much as they do....and most of the violence between Mexican immigrants is usually personal beefs not cartel on cartel crime....but yes they do get a little crazy at times but nothing compared to Mexico...not to say some of these families aren't related to cartels but there really is no structure and definitely no control from the cartels back in Mexico....at least that has been my observation...I have known many paisas in the area pushing major weight...but they were mostly independent and had to handle there own situations and didn't have any backing from Mexico other than their own families....what part of the Salad Bowl are you from if you don't mind me asking???.....I am from South Monterey County but I know people from all over the Salad Bowl and it seems the same in the whole area....crazy little area that most in the big cities sleep on but it is definitely an area where if you step outta line you will get handled in a not so nice way....it used to be a calm quiet place but meth has taken over and now it's definitely the Wild Wild West ....like I said I could be wrong but that has been my observation....One Love to the 831....I don't live there anymore but my heart is always there....
BTW KAB how did your TJ trip go??
In reply to this post by NorCal
I live in a rural area.Have you ever heard of 'country justice'?Like the thief's that come out from the big cities to rob the country folk because they don't often lock their doors or leave their keys in the ignition and these city slickers think we are easy marks.Well just don't get caught by the country folk.They don't play by the book.
In reply to this post by freespirit
Ohio sheriff says family massacre not linked to drug cartel: report
Raw Story via Reuters
Oficials investigating the execution-style killings of eight family members in rural Ohio six months ago have ruled out the involvement of a Mexican drug cartel and now believe whoever committed the crimes was likely from the area, local media reported.
Eight members of the Rhoden family, ranging in age from 16 to 44, were shot to death in the Appalachian foothills on April 22. Local media previously quoted unidentified law enforcement officials saying a Mexican drug cartel could have been involved after marijuana cultivation sites were found at one of the crime scenes.
“Absolutely not,” Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader told a local TV station on Monday when asked if he believed Mexican cartels were involved in the murders.
“With the nature of the investigation and the things that have been revealed when conducting the investigation there would be no indication to me as to any type of Mexican drug cartel being involved,” he said in an interview with ABC affiliate WCPO Cincinnati.
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
annah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr, 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr, 16; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44, were killed in what officials said was a planned, “sophisticated operation.” Many of the victims were shot in the head as they slept. Three young children were found alive.
Tim Reagan, a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer in Cincinnati, told the TV station he also believed there was no link to the Mexican cartel.
“If there was a strong Mexican cartel connection, I’d feel more comfortable telling you, and I don’t see it,” he said.
The DEA directed questions on the case to the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general, said the office would not comment on motives prior to an arrest being made but does believe the crimes were committed by multiple people who were familiar with the property.
Reader said he believes whoever killed the Rhoden family members likely lives in or near Pike County in south-central Ohio, about 95 miles (153 km) east of Cincinnati. Reader did not elaborate on why he felt the killer or killers were local.
He said the motivation for the murders was still unknown, but it was unlikely that drugs played a role.
In reply to this post by freespirit
Mon., April 2, 2018: Nearly two years after eight members of a rural Ohio family were killed, snow covers busted out cars on one of the properties where the killings took place. The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran (Photo: Carrie Cochran, The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran)
Rhoden family massacre: Here's where the investigation stands after 2 years
Chris Graves and Bob Strickley, The Enquirer Published 9:53 p.m. ET April 19, 2018 | Updated 8:04 a.m. ET April 20, 2018
Ask Leonard Manley if investigators will arrest and prosecute the killers who gunned down his daughter and seven members of his family and still -- two years later -- he isn’t sure.
Manley, who has been both critical and questioning of law enforcement, said he hopes an arrest will come one day in the calculated deaths.
But if the handful of cops working to piece together evidence in the state’s largest and most arduous criminal investigation are getting closer, they are not saying so.
Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk will only say that investigators remain focused on a former Peebles family of four who had ties to the Rhoden family but moved last year to Alaska.
He said authorities are focused on the Wagners in the investigation of the April 22, 2016 slayings. Two agents from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and a member of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office remain assigned to the case full-time and work out of an office in the county, Junk said.
"One of these days, if and when somebody is charged, there's a lot of things that would be public that can't be made public now. There are some things that could clear this up for you in about two seconds but I really can't say anything because the investigation is still going on," Junk said.
To solve a case, Junk said he would like to see at least two of three things: Good forensic evidence, a confession or an eyewitness.
“At this point, nobody has seen any of those, nothing like that has ever been (publicly) released," Junk said.
More: Inside the Rhoden investigation: Scientists work with cops
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is running for governor and became the public face of the investigation two years ago, recently fielded questions from The Enquirer’s editorial board.
"I can't talk about that," DeWine said. "We know a whole lot more than when we got started. I made a commitment to sheriff and people of Pike County I will not pull out of the case until we have an arrest, an indictment and a conviction."
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, would only say via email: “The investigation remains very active and ongoing.”
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader issued a news release this week saying he would not take questions about the case in deference to the victims’ families. He posted on Facebook that “he lives this case every day.”
“I think you should know that we work this case every day and I’m confident it will be solved,’’ he wrote, “and, not only (will an) arrest (be) made but actually get the case prosecuted.”
More: Rhoden family massacre: Wagner family tries to create new home in Alaska amid rumors
Killed in the attack were: Christopher Rhoden, Sr., 40; and his former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 38; and their three children, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Chris Rhoden, Jr., 16; Christopher Rhoden's older brother, Kenneth, 44; and their cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.
All were found shot in the head in their trailers. Also killed was ]Frankie Rhoden's fiancee, Hannah Hazel Gilley.
Their bodies were discovered by family members in four separate trailers on April 22, 2016. DeWine has said the killers were methodical and worked to cover their tracks, making the case even more complex. However, authorities received nearly 1,000 tips in the case, conducted nearly 500 interviews and processed more than 100 pieces of evidence.
Authorities meet with family members monthly, but they declined to discuss the nature of those conversations.
DeWine has always said that his eye is on a successful prosecution in what will likely be a capital case and not just simply making an arrest.
Here is what is known to date, and why it remains important in the case:
The Wagner Family
The last public flurry of activity in the case focused squarely on the Wagner family and their property one year ago. DeWine steadfastly declined to name father, George “Billy;” mom, Angela; and adult sons, Jake and George, as suspects. But in a case where authorities have said little and sealed the majority of public records, it certainly appeared the family -- which moved to Alaska at the same time last year -- is suspected in the slayings.
DeWine’s office issued a poster to Ohio and Alaska media outlets in May 2017 asking anyone with information about the family to call them.
Specifically, investigators said they wanted information regarding “interactions, conversations, dealings or transactions that the public may have had with these individuals, which could be personal, business, or otherwise. Specifically, information could include, but is not limited to, information regarding vehicles, firearms, and ammunition."
The Wagner family was the subject of three searches
The Wagner family was the subject of three searches on farms in Pike and Adams counties in May 2017 tied to the Rhoden family massacre. The family photo was taken during a recent trip to Alaska. Pictured from left to right are: Bulvine; Angela Wagner, her son, George, her husband, George "Billy", her son, Edward "Jake," and his daughter, Sophia, 3. Jake Wagner is the former longtime boyfriend of Hanna Rhoden, who was killed in the April 22, 2016 killings in Pike County. The two are the parents of Sophia. (Photo: Provided)
It remains unclear if authorities received any useful information.
The Wagners have continued to deny involvement, saying they too were heartbroken by the deaths of their longtime friends. Angela Wagner said her husband and Christopher Rhoden, Sr., were longtime friends. Others have said the two were also business partners who had had a falling out before the homicides.
Jake Wagner and Hanna Rhoden share a daughter, Sophia, and worked to solidify a custody agreement in court in 2016. Some family members said custody of the child was contentious. Jake Wagner and his mother have both told The Enquirer the agreement was amicable.
More: Alaskan meets his new neighbors: A family named in Rhoden massacre investigation
The Wagner’s Ohio-based lawyer, John Kearson Clark, again this week reiterated they were not involved and are working to get on with their lives.
“The Wagners are sorry for the Rhoden’s loss but they are innocent and they simply want to be left alone,’’ he said through his assistant. “They want to express their compassion for the Rhodens.”
Jake Wagner is engaged to be married to a woman in Alaska. He retains sole custody of Sophia and is working as a mechanic there.
The Rhoden children
Two infants and a toddler, who were children of three of the victims, were found alive and physically unharmed in the trailers that morning.
Brentley Rhoden, who is now 5, is the son of Frankie Rhoden. He remains with his mother and is adjusting after ongoing counseling. He misses his father, said his mother, Chelsea Robinson.
Ruger Rhoden, the six-month-old found covered in blood between the bodies of his father, Frankie Rhoden, and mother, Hannah Hazel Gilley; is now 2 ½.
More: Warrant: Investigators put GPS tracker on truck of Rhoden victim's brother
Kylie Rhoden was just five days old when she was found in the bed next to the body of her mother, Hanna Rhoden.
A paternity test established Kylie’s father as Charlie Gilley. He is the brother of Hannah Gilley, thus making Kylie, who turned 2 this week, and Ruger cousins.
A Pike County judge awarded custody of Ruger and Kylie to a family member in the summer of 2017. The children are being raised together.
The crime scenes
Authorities towed the crime scenes -- three trailers and camper -- and stored them in a warehouse until earlier this year when they were towed again to a pole barn built at the Pike County Sheriff’s impound lot outside of Waverly.
Some experts have said moving the crime scene two times may prove problematic for prosecutors at the time of a trial because of chain of evidence issues.
However, prosecutor Junk scoffed at that notion: "The only way it would impact chain of custody, hypothetically, is if someone goes back into those trailers and find some magic piece of evidence that nobody found before."
He added he would fully expect a defense attorney to raise the chain-of-evidence issue.
“However it would probably be fair to say that those trailers, the mobile home and that camping trailer, are probably the most processed, photographed, videoed and analyzed crime scenes in Ohio history,’’ he said. “It would be fair to say the criminalists from BCI have been all through those probably every square inch of those has been mapped. It's nothing I really worry about.”
In the absence of public statement or facts related to the investigation or the case, rumors continue to swirl about the case fueling speculation about motive and finger-pointing. Message boards and several closed Facebook groups remain active.
Junk said authorities have heard all the rumors as well and have chased dozens and dozens down as part of the investigation.
More: Rhoden Family Massacre: With no answers, family marks time
"When this first came up, there were a lot of different theories to who did this and why and everything like that, and pretty much like all of them have gone by the wayside or been disproven,’’ he said.
Junk said there is no evidence of Mexican cartels operating in Pike County.
Chris Graves is a contributor for The Enquirer. Carrie Cochran contributed.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers at 740-773-TIPS. Anonymous tips are still being taken at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or the Pike County Sheriff's Office at 740-947-2111.
A $11,365 Crime Stoppers reward would be paid for any information that leads to the apprehension of suspects and a conviction in the case.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
In reply to this post by Siskiyou_Kid
Kid, I was assigned to CAMP in 1990 as a CRAT. Small to medium size grows back in the day. Mostly locals then, growing on USFS lands. Times have changed. Keep up the good work here on BB.
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