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Eight dead in 'execution-style' killings: Ohio officials

Eight people were found slain Friday in a small Ohio town east of Cincinnati — and seven of them were killed "execution-style."
This aerial photo shows one of the locations being investigated in Pike County, Ohio, as part of an ongoing homicide investigation, April 22, 2016. (Photo by Lisa Marie Miller/The Columbus Dispatch/AP)
This aerial photo shows one of the locations being investigated in Pike County, Ohio, as part of an ongoing homicide investigation, April 22, 2016.

Eight members of an Ohio family were found slain "execution style" Friday with a bullet to the head in a small town east of Cincinnati — and police said the killer or killers remain on the loose.

One of the victims was a young mom who was murdered as she lay in bed with her 4-day-old child, who somehow survived the slaughter.

"There is a strong possibility that any individuals involved with this are armed and extremely dangerous," Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader warned.

"There may be one, there may be two, there may be three, we just don't know," Attorney General Mike DeWine added. "We're very early in this investigation."

The victims were all members of the Rhoden family of Piketon, Ohio. Two other children — one 6-months-old, the other 3-years-old —were found alive amid the bodies and have been taken to a nearby hospital for observation.

Investigators made contact with the Rhoden family and death notifications were being made Friday night, officials said. "We expressed directly to them our deepest sympathy for the family," DeWine said. "This is just a horrible, horrible tragedy," he said.

Seven of the victims were adults and the eighth was a male 16-year-old, DeWine said. None of them died by suicide, he added.

The victims were found at four different crime scenes. Three were in a one mile radius of each other. The fourth was 10 minutes away, the lawmen said. Some of the victims were killed in their beds, officials said.

As of 9 p.m. Friday, no suspects were arrested but at least 30 people had been interviewed, Reader and DeWine said.

"We have a specific family that has been targeted," Reader said. The sheriff's office was working with family members to provide protection as a hunt for the killer or killers continued.

Piketon (pop. 2,181) is about 95 miles east of Cincinnati.

"I know the family," Pastor Phil Fulton of the nearby Union Hill Church told WLWT, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati. Fulton said the victims used to attend his church and called their deaths "so tragic."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican presidential candidate, weighed in from the campaign trail, tweeting that what happened is "tragic beyond comprehension."

Reader and DeWine said the investigation could take some time, but investigators were being thorough so that once a suspect is identified and caught they can be prosecuted.

"When this investigation is complete it's going to point us in the direction that we need to go, and we'll find who did this," Reader said.

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