PIKETON, Ohio (AP) — The long goodbyes to eight members of a rural Ohio family killed more than a week ago continued Saturday with a funeral for a young mother as authorities remained silent in what they’ve said will be a lengthy investigation.
Rhoden family members were shot in the head at four different homes near Piketon on April 22. Authorities say the deaths were a pre-planned “sophisticated operation” and they haven’t released any specifics on possible suspects or a motive.
Hundreds of family members, friends and community residents attended a vigil Friday at the Pike County fairgrounds to remember those who died. They clutched lighted candles and launched balloons.
Many wore T-shirts with photos and messages on them, The Columbus Dispatch reported. There were hugs, tears and stories from those who knew the victims well.
“This is a loving community,” said Leonard Manley, Dana Rhoden’s father, before the vigil began. “If you’ve got a friend who comes up and hugs you, that’s the greatest thing in the world.”
Hannah Gilley, 20, whose baby was one of three children who survived the massacre, was to be buried Saturday following a funeral in Otway, Ohio. Gilley was the fiancée of 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, another victim of the shootings.
The others were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, including Frankie, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; their cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.
Besides Gilley’s baby, Hanna Rhoden’s infant and another young child also were unharmed.
Fifteen-year-old Samantha Tschudy attended the vigil. She had known Christopher Rhoden Jr. since kindergarten; he was a former boyfriend.
“This is the hardest day yet,” she said.
Her mother, Melissa Tschudy, helped organize the vigil, which also was a fundraiser for the victims’ families.
Gary Rhoden’s funeral was held Thursday in Kentucky. Funerals for the six others will take place Tuesday.
This story has been corrected to show the correct spelling of the name Rhoden, not Rohden.