Youngest Ohio family member received Facebook threat before murders

The youngest of the eight Ohio family members found slain in execution-style murders last week received a threat on Facebook before the mass killings, Ohio's attorney general said Monday.

Christopher Rhoden Jr., a 16-year-old freshman at Piketon High School, was the subject of the threat, CBS News reported.

"I'm aware of the Facebook threat," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "Every piece of information is valuable and our investigators are certainly taking that into consideration."

The threat is just one emerging piece of evidence in the investigation, which has also uncovered cockfighting chickens and a marijuana growing operation at some of the properties where the eight were killed.

Seven of the relatives were multiple times, according to autopsy results released Tuesday. One family member's body showed nine bullet wounds. Some bodies also had bruising, which matched a report from a 911 caller who said two appeared to have been beaten up.

The victims have been identified as 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children; Christopher Rhoden Sr.'s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; their cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; and 20-year-old Hannah Gilley, whose 6-month old son with "Frankie" was unhurt.

Leonard Manley, father of Dana Rhoden, told the Cincinnati Enquirer he first learned about the marijuana operations from news reports.

Manley, 64, said he's sure his daughter couldn't have been involved in anything illegal. "They are trying to drag my daughter through the mud, and I don't appreciate that," he said.

Manley also noted that the attacker was able to get by his daughter's two dogs. "Whoever done it knows the family," Manley said. "There were two dogs there that would eat you up."

DeWine told te Enquirer investigators found roosters kept in individual cages, which he said was "consistent with" an illegal cockfighting operation. DeWine cautioned, however that investigators "don't know what's relevant" to the murders of members of the Rhoden family.

Also Monday, a local prosecutor confirmed that several hundred marijauna plants were found at three of the crime scenes, some of which were sheltered in a large grow-house.

"It wasn't just somebody sitting pots in the window," Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk told The Columbus Dispatch.

All eight victims were fatally shot in the head, including a young mother whose newborn baby was sleeping beside her Friday morning. That baby, another infant and a toddler were spared.

Extensive marijuana-growing operations are not uncommon in sparsely populated rural southern Ohio, an economically distressed corner of Appalachia. Two of the four homes that became crime scenes Friday are within walking distance of each other along a remote, winding road leading into wooded hills from a rural highway. The others are nearby.

Piketon — about 60 miles south of Columbus and 90 miles east of Cincinnati — is in Pike County, which is home to just 28,000 people and has an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, considerably higher than Ohio's rate of 5.1. A main employer is a shuttered Cold War-era uranium plant whose cleanup provides hundreds of local jobs.

More than 22,000 marijuana plants were seized in Pike County in 2010, and while authorities made no arrests, they said they found two abandoned camps where Mexican nationals apparently stayed. In 2012, another 1,200 plants were seized in Pike County in an operation connected to a Mexican drug cartel, the Attorney General's office said. Seizures continued in 2013 and 2014 in the county.

DeWine said the state's crime lab was looking at 18 pieces of evidence from a DNA and ballistic standpoint, and that five search warrants have been executed. More than 100 tips have been given to investigators, and a Cincinnati-area businessman offered a $25,000 reward for details leading to those responsible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.