CINCINNATI – Autopsy reports released Wednesday show the 2016 massacre of eight people from an Ohio family was methodical, calculated and vicious.
It now appears that 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr., the family patriarch, was among the first killed. The reports indicate he was awake when he was confronted by at least one person with a gun. Among the nine gunshot wounds he suffered was an apparent defensive wound to his right forearm that shattered bone. Also, at least one bullet went through a door before hitting him, according to the reports.
Authorities had previously said the family members – who were found in three trailers on the same rural property as well as a camper several miles away – were killed in their sleep in the early morning of April 22, 2016.
In addition to the bullet wound to his forearm, Rhoden also was shot in the torso and cheek. He was found in the back bedroom of a trailer at 4077 Union Hill Road in Pike County, east of Cincinnati.
Also found dead in the trailer was his cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38. He was shot twice in the head and once in the face. With one of the shots, the reports indicate the gun was pressed against the side of his head, leaving a "muzzle stain."
Information about the kind of bullets found was not included in the reports.
Also killed in the attack were Christopher Rhoden Sr.'s older brother, Kenneth, 44; his former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 38; and their three children, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Chris Rhoden, Jr., 16.
Frankie Rhoden's fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20, also was a victim.
The killers spared three young children, who were unharmed.
The reports lay out the brutality of the killings. All but one of the victims were shot in the head multiple times in their homes. Kenneth Rhoden was found in a camper about 3 miles away, shot once through his right eye.
Dana Manley Rhoden and her children, Chris and Hanna, were found dead in the same trailer at 3122 Union Hill Road.
The reports appear to show Dana Rhoden was methodically shot four times around the right side of her head and a fifth time under her chin.
Chris, who at 16 was the youngest victim, was shot in the head multiple times. Hanna was shot twice in the head. She was found in bed with her 5-day-old daughter.
Inside a trailer at 4091 Union Hill Road, Frankie Rhoden and Hannah Gilley were fatally shot in bed. Their 6-month-old son was found between them, unharmed. Among the five bullet wounds to Gilley was one to her left eye.
A second child in the trailer, Frankie Rhoden's 4-year-old son, who had been sleeping on a couch, also wasn't harmed.
2 years and no answers in Pike County slayings
Authorities have repeatedly said the killers worked to cover their tracks, adding complexity to what is the largest homicide investigation in Ohio history.
"Nobody's seen anything like this," Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office, which is heading the investigation, declined to comment.
As of April this year, investigators had received nearly 1,000 tips in the case, conducted nearly 500 interviews and processed more than 100 pieces of evidence.
An Ohio Supreme Court ruling announced Wednesday reversed a lower court's decision and made the preliminary autopsy reports of the eight family members killed reviewable to journalists.
The Pike County coroner and prosecutor had been fighting to keep the reports secret since an Enquirer reporter requested the reports in May 2016. An appeals court ruled the reports were not public but that decision was superseded by the high court's decision.
Contributing: Bob Strickley