Investigators search 2 Adams Co. properties for Pike Co. massacre evidence

Investigators search 2 Adams Co. properties for Pike Co. massacre evidence (WKRC)

PEEBLES, Ohio (WKRC) -- State investigators and sheriff's deputies descended upon two properties in Adams County Friday as part of the investigation into the murders of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office declined to comment on the searches. Spokesperson Dan Tierney said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation called up the Dept. Of Corrections' Special Tactics and Response Team to assist along with deputies from Adams and Pike Counties

At about 1 p.m. Friday, agents started searching a property at 260 Peterson Rd. The property was owned until recently by the Wagner family. Jake Wagner was the father of Hanna Rhoden's daughter. He lived at the home with his family until it was sold. Word about the searches quickly spread through Adams County.

"I couldn't believe what happened. I mean I went down there and they was really nice people. They helped me change a flat one time, they helped a lot of people," said Paula Fox, who lives near Peterson Rd.

Fox said she knew a few of the Rhoden family members. Members of the Rhoden family always thought the killer or killers knew the family because their dogs were very protective and were found outside the home when they were typically kept inside. Fox felt the same way.

"I have since it happened because they just went into their houses and killed them all. Thank God they didn't kill the babies," Fox said.

All of the adults in the Rhodens' trailer homes were killed but the children - including Hanna's five-day-old child, were spared.

A second property on State Route 41 outside of Peebles was also searched Friday. Two BCI crime scene units were parked at the property and more than a dozen police officers were onsite. The owner of the property declined to comment on the search or how her property was involved.

People in Peebles were talking about the searches. Everyone said they hoped the searches would lead to answers in the murders.

"I just couldn't believe they did that. Whoever did that, I want them caught," Fox said.

Local 12 News reached out to members of the Wagner family Friday but messages were not returned. Investigators have not said whether they believe the family is tied to the Rhoden case.

Investigators planned to return to Peterson Road property on Saturday.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were killed execution-style at three locations on April 22, 2016. The locations were near the Pike/Adams County line.

The Ohio Bureau of Investigations confirmed they're looking for evidence in that case but won't say what they're searching for specifically.

Local 12's Deborah Dixon broke this story Friday afternoon and said investigators believe the killer or killers were close to the family. They seemed to know everything about the family members, their homes and their security.

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