Eight family members were found Friday shot "execution-style" in four different homes in rural, southern Ohio. Pastor Phil Fulton of nearby Union Hill Community Church said he couldn't believe the first call he received that morning: "Come quickly, Dana is dead." Dana was the matriarch of the Rhoden family, whose family members, and now victims, lived within miles side-by-side each other.
When deputies arrived at the various crime scenes, they found two babies and one toddler left alive, officials said. The youngest of the three children, a four-day-old baby, was still in bed with her mother where the mother was shot and killed, investigators said. The two other child survivors were 6 months old and 3 years old.
Officers are searching for the killer or killers, who are probably armed and a danger to surviving family members, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said.
Neighbors and relatives said members of the Rhoden family who lived where the shootings happened included Dana Rhoden, her ex-husband, their adult children and grandchildren, according to the Washington Post.
"They all used to attend our church," said Fulton.
Dana Rhoden worked at a nursing home for the elderly, Fulton said. She had just bought a new mobile home near two other trailers where the shootings took place; one occupied by her ex-husband and the other by her son and her son's girlfriend, he said.
"Dana loved her family. She worked hard," said Fulton. "What a tragic, tragic thing. We just have to lift this family, this community and this whole country up in prayer."
Neighbors and relatives said the ex-husband was one of those killed. When asked whether the ex-husband may have killed the family and then killed himself, Attorney General DeWine told local radio station WLW: "It is possible that the person who did this is among the deceased, but it's looking like that's probably not true."
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation stated some of the victims were killed while they were still sleeping in their beds. The eight killed, seven adults and one 16-year-old boy, were all shot in the head.
In earlier statements Friday, authorities said that the situation did not involve an active shooter, but in a news conference Friday afternoon, DeWine said none of the eight dead appeared to have committed suicide, "so obviously we have one person who is armed and dangerous and maybe more than one."
The deaths are homicides, DeWine said. "Nobody killed themselves," CNN reported DeWine stated.
Reader said authorities are trying to track down all other members of the Rhoden clan to ensure they are safe. "We are taking every precaution," he said.
The initial report came at 7:53 a.m. Friday with a 911 call reporting two possible males deceased at a home on Union Hill Road in Piketon, Reader said. Initially investigators found seven bodies between the three trailer homes. They appeared to have been killed sometime during the night because many were still lying in bed, DeWine said. The three trailer homes are all in close proximity. Two of them are in walking distance, investigators said, and the third is a little more than a mile away.
About 2 p.m., investigators discovered an eighth body at a fourth location, which is about a 10-minute drive from the initial three trailer homes.
Attorney general's office spokesman Dan Tierney said the Pike County sheriff's office called state authorities at 8:21 a.m. requesting help. The attorney general sent agents from four of its units: crime scene, special investigations, criminal intelligence and cybercrimes.