WAVERLY, Ohio ~
The killers who systematically shot to death eight members of a southern Ohio family in April were familiar with their homes and the area, Attorney General Mike DeWine said. Many family and community members have speculated the killers had to have intimate knowledge of the rural areas in Pike and Scioto counties where the Rhoden family members lived, including details about their homes and their routines.
Read More ~ DeWine: Killers familiar with Rhoden properties
Rather cryptic interview with Attorney General Mike Dewine regarding the on-going Rhoden investigation. I think we all gathered that the killers were familiar with the Rhoden family, their homes and their routines . However, the acknowledgement from “the powers that be” is interesting, considering it comes at the heels of the family members publicly speaking out against investigative law enforcement comments regarding the safety of the remaining children.
While I haven’t provided commentary on the murders or the investigation for some time, I have continued to follow it closely and do a lot of digging of my own. So, now I am going to toss a few things around and share my theory of who the killers are and why I think they are. There will be some rumor and speculation, so if you don’t like that you can stop reading here.
Shortly after the murders several motives began to circulate with in Pike County and with in the media. Yet none of them passed the sniff test for me.
MEXICAN CARTEL HIT
The favorite seemed to be the murders were a Mexican Cartel Hit. The cartel motive gathered steam with the discovery of 230 pot plants on three of the Rhoden properties, evidence of cock-fighting, and other nefarious activities that could be linked with Cartel activities.
The killers may have attempted to make these killings appear to be a Cartel Hit to throw off law enforcement. However, when you look at the particulars, it doesn’t take long to see that a cartel hit is not likely.
Granted, the Mexican Cartel is alive, well and running operations throughout the United States. However, they don’t make a habit of publicizing it. The cartel would much more prefer to work behind the scenes and keep their activities with in the U.S. on the down low. The cartel makes it a habit, on purpose, of keeping a very low profile of their activities with in the united states.
The Mexican Cartel is not going to bring a media and law enforcement shit storm down onto itself and announce it’s activities within the US boarders by executing a family of 8 in rural Ohio over 230 pot plants and some small time cock fighting. Any income generated for the Cartel, if any, through the Rhoden’s small time grow operation and cock fighting ring is nothing more than chump change to the Cartel.
On at least three of the property’s, the Rhoden’s had dogs that were known to not be friendly to strangers. Chris Rhoden had two dogs on his property that were known to be very protective and were also know to be indoor dogs at night-time. Both those dogs were found alive and well on the front porch of his trailer the morning of the murders. According to Bobby Jo Manley, when she pulled up to Chris’s trailer the morning of the murders, the first thing she noticed was his dogs on the front porch, which she said was unusual.
Like wise, Dana Rhoden had several dogs, to include pit bulls and coon hounds that were also known to be very protective and not nice to strangers. Yet, her dogs were also left unharmed and roaming around inside her home. The same holds true for the dogs of Kenneth Rhoden who were roaming around inside his small fifth wheel with his dead body when he was discovered by his cousin, Donald Stone.
If this was a “Cartel Hit”, the dogs would have been taken out immediately. Furthermore, the Cartel would NOT have left the three small children alive. The Cartel DOES NOT SPARE DOGS OR CHILDREN. Period.
I think we wrapped this motive up with the Mexican Cartel motive. Again, I don’t think this was the motive for the reasons I stated above.
THE FACEBOOK THREAT
It didn’t take long to throw this motive out the window. Rusty Mongold is a 19 year old kid. He isn’t the brightest crayon in the box and fancies himself a bad ass. If you looked through his Facebook post for the year or more leading up to the Rhoden murders, it doesn’t take long to see that Rusty likes to threaten people and Rusty likes to fight. Rusty threatened to fight and beat up everyone and their Grandmammie in the year leading up to the murders. Sure Rusty fought a lot with other young men in Pike County but none of them ended up dead with 7 members of their family.
Furthermore, lets keep in mind that these murders were, “a sophisticated operation and those who carried it out were trying to do everything they could do to hinder the investigation and their prosecution, ”. I doubt that Rusty and his running crew could put together a sophisticated and well planned trip to the local Walmart, let alone plan and commit a crime of this magnitude.
If he had any involvement, he would have ran his mouth like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar the minute law enforcement got him into an interview room and started putting the psychological screws to him. Rusty Mongold is a big mouth and a bully, but he certainly isn’t a sophisticated killer.
Frankie and Chris Rhoden, Jr were both active in derby car races with in Pike County. There has been some speculation that several individuals were believed to have been jealous over Frankie $3,000 demolition derby car.
“Some of us have been talking about the jealousy that Frankie had faced over his car,” Johnny Gambill said, the Daily Mail reported. “It was worth more than $3,000 and that made some people jealous around Piketon.” (Via Opposing Views)
This motive doesn’t hold water with me for one second. Sure, I can see some individuals being jealous of Frankie Rhoden’s derby car. But, jealous enough to murder him, 7 of his family members, and leave children with out their parents? Nope, I just don’t buy it.
The Manley’s say no family feud played a role in the deaths of 8 Rhoden’s. However, Leaonard Manley, the father of Dana Rhoden and Bobbi Jo Manley, who discovered the bodies, does say that
“Whoever committed the murders ‘are a bunch of scumbag’ who knows the family. Whoever don it, know the family,” Manley said. “(Because there were two dogs there that would eat you up. But I ain’t gonna say no more.” (Via Dayton Daily News)
My theory plays into the “Family Feud Theory”. However, it goes a bit deeper than that. So, allow me to throw out my speculations and theories and let them fall where they may. Again my theory is MERE SPECULATION but I think that it’s worth considering or at least tossing around.
Economics In Pike County
The US Census population estimates in Pike County shows that as of July 1, 2015 the population in the county equaled 28,217 with whites making up 96.1 % of the population. Only 11.4 % of the population held a college degree.
The median income per capita in 2014 was $20,292. That breaks down to approximately $1,691 GROSS income before taxes, per month. So by the time Uncle Sam has gotten his grubby fingers in the pay check, the employee would likely received approximately $1,200 to $1,300 per month take home. Broken down further into bi weekly payment comes out to approximately $650 to $700 the employee would take home every other week.
The total employment for Pike County in 2015 equaled 6,985.
The unemployment rate in 2015 equaled 13.2 % .
21.9 % of the Pike County population lived at or below the poverty level in 2015.
I think it’s fair to say that there are not a lot of rich or well to do folks in Pike County. The job opportunities are not plentiful and in the rural areas in particular large families stick together, live close together and rely on one another to get by and to help make ends meet. It’s not uncommon for their to be nefarious side projects designed to help generate income just so these families can get by every month. (I am not making excuses for illegal or nefarious activities, just stating an observation.)
The Rhoden Family Assets
Christopher Rhoden, Sr, on the other hand seemed to be doing very well for himself and his immediate family. He was known to work part-time at the Big Bear Lake Camp Ground in Lucasville. Sure, that put a little money in his pocket, but it would hardly make him financially stable enough to accumulate a large quantities of cars, and properties that he had accumulated over the years.
When his father, Clarence Rhoden, passed away in 2008, Chris Sr inherited the lions share of 40 acres of property the 47 acre property belonging to his father, with the 7 remaining acres being split between his 7 siblings at 1 acre each.( Please see HERE). He also inherited another 20 acres from his father along Union Hill Road and Left Fork Road.
Through inheritance and the purchase of foreclosure properties, Christopher Rhoden Sr. began to acquire himself quite the little empire in Pike County.
At the time of his death he owned a large portion of the properties along Union Hill Road, North Side Union Hill, and Left Fork Roads.
In total, Christopher Sr. owned approximately 75 acres at the time of his death.
The last property he purchased was on March 21, 2016, at 4077 Union Hill Road. This is the location that Dana, Hannah, and Christopher, Jr. lived. That final purchase came just a month before the murders.
Christopher Sr.’s immediate heirs include his mother, wife, children, Grandchildren, and siblings.
Murdered along with Christopher were his immediate heirs that could inherit or were close to the age of being able to inherit.
His wife and all three of his kids were executed.
His youngest, Chris Jr, at 16 would be able to inherit in two years.
After his wife and children, his closets living sibling Kenneth stood to inherit. Also executed.
The Grandchildren ages 3, 2, 6 mo, 5 days old were all left alive. Interestingly, children can not inherit. Rather, any assets/property left to them would go into a trust until they reach the age of 18.
That trust and the assets are controlled by another, usually an adult family member. Even better if that same adult family member has custody of the minor children that are due to inherit the assets and property.
Other Potential Heirs
After his wife, children, and Grandchildren his next line of heirs would be his siblings. Chris Sr. and his brother Kenneth died on the same day, leaving behind his mother, Genevea Stone Rhoden, two brothers, Tony and Brady Rhoden, and four sisters, Norma Thomas, Wilma McCoy, Brenda Weisel and Teresa Grebing.
The Manley’s, Dana Rhoden’s family, would not stand to inherit anything. That is unless they had custody of any of the Rhoden Grandchildren. Then they would continue to enjoy the benefits of living on the Rhoden properties and other perks that go along with carrying for children who stand to inherit a substantial sum when they are of age.
The Grand Children
I do not believe that the children are in grave danger. The only minors who were in grave danger were those who were close to the age of inheriting (Chris, Jr). None of the small children were killed. In fact, it appears that the killers waited to strike until after Hannah Rhoden had given birth to her child, who was a mere four days old when the murders occurred. Thus being able to kill her without killing the child had it still been in utero. I firmly believe that the killers waited to strike until after she gave birth.
Who ever the killers were knew the families routines, knew where the families lived and the lay out of the homes, they were familiar with the family pets at all four locations, and they waited until Hannah Rhoden gave birth before killing the family. They are not dog killers or baby killers.
It is my opinion that this was an “inside” job or a “family affair” if you like…Another reason the children were not killed and the attack didn’t occur until just after Hannah gave birth. They just couldn’t bring themselves to murder their own little family members. Killing the small Grandchildren would also have wiped out that portion of the Rhoden blood line. Something no family would want to have happen.
At the end of the day, I think this was about assets, money, and property and who was gonna get it and control it. Those grand babies are the “golden tickets”, who ever has custody of those kids has a proverbial finger in the Rhoden pie until those kids turn 18.
When the arrest finally do come, I suspect those arrested will be family members and the motivation will turn out to be good old-fashioned greed.