Who Killed The Rhoden Family? New Expert Theory About Eight Family Members Murdered In Their Home

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Who Murdered Rhoden Family? Details Suspect New Police Evidence

In 2016, Ohio's Pike County was rocked by news of the gruesome, execution-style killing of eight members of the Rhoden family.

The mass killing continues to remain unsolved, as experts are now saying that the murder was likely a professional hit.

The theory that the multiple killings were conducted by professionals comes on the heels of the recent release of autopsy details by officials. 

"It has aspects of a professional hit, but I don't think it was a cartel hit or anything like that," said Dr. Jennifer Murray, an associate professor at Indiana State University.

The eight victims — which included seven adults and a teenage boy — were found dead in four homes located on their farm in Piketon, Ohio in April 2016. The autopsy revealed that most members of the family had been shot multiple times.

According to local Ohio news station WLWT, Christopher Rhoden Sr. had been shot a total of nine times, while his wife Dana was shot five times in the head — any one of which would have killed her. Murray emphasized that the continued gunshots — even after ones that were fatal — showed signs of aggression in the brutal murders. 

"When you get that after they're dead, that's showing even more aggression." 

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Although there have been no arrests or indictments in the murder of the Rhodens, authorities have looked into another family that was connected to them. 

According to Fox News, the Wagner family lived near the Rhodens and a member of their family, Edward Jacob “Jake” Wagner, fathered a child with Hannah Rhoden. The Wagners now reside in Alaska.

A lawyer for the Wagners, however, disputed any claims that they were responsible for the killings.

“Despite what has been said and alleged, the Wagners were on friendly terms with the Rhodens. Therefore, the Wagners had no reason to wish them harm.”

Dr. Murray also points out that the fact that no indictments have been made is a good indicator that whoever is responsible likely had professional help.

“It's two years later and they haven't indicted anybody. 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.” 

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Although Murray doesn't believe it was necessarily a cartel hit, the Rhodens did, however, have connections to the drug trade industry. Christopher Rhoden Sr. ran a commercial marijuana operation on the family's property "with the purpose of distributing the marijuana.”

In May 2017, members of the Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT team and Pike County Sheriff’s Department conducted a large-scale search several miles from where the Rhoden killings took place. Their focus involved three different properties that belonged to the Wagner family, including one where Jake Wagner — who had a child with Hannah Rhoden — reportedly left some possessions.

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Jake currently has custody of their 4-year old daughter, Sophia. At the time of the murder, Hannah also had a 5-day old baby girl, Kylie, but Jake was not the father. Kylie was found unharmed next to Hannah Rhoden's body. Another baby and young child on the property were left unharmed. 

Authorities said that whoever was responsible made sure to cover their tracks. 

"Nobody's seen anything like this," Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said in regards to the methodical killings. 

USA Today reports that as of April 2018, investigators working on the case had received nearly 1,000 tips, conducted close to 500 interviews and processed more than 100 pieces of evidence.

Still, no arrests have been made in the murder of the Rhoden family.

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Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and Michigan native who covers trending news, pop culture, crime and celebrity topics.