Rhoden family member charged with destroying evidence in massacre investigation

By Steve Beynon, WXIX

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio -- (WXIX) -- In a major development in the year-long murder mystery of the Rhoden family, authorities have charged a family member with tampering with evidence, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Tuesday afternoon, marking the first arrest in the investigation.

Brother of one of the victims, James Manley, 40, of Pike County has been charged with destroying a GPS device that was part of the investigation into the murders of the eight members of the Rhoden family last spring.

Law enforcement showed up at his home on Monday to remove a tracking device they placed on his vehicle on April 22. However, Manley's father Leonard Manley told police his son discovered the GPS on April 28 and removed it, according to court documents.

Authorities say the charges Manley faces that are connected to the Rhoden family slayings are not uncommon when a witness tampers with evidence in a government investigation. He is charged with one count of tampering with evidence, a felony of the third degree and one count of vandalism, a felony of the fifth degree.

Law enforcement have accelerated the investigation that has had no major public breakthroughs in nearly a year, marking the Rhoden family massacre as one of the most prolific unsolved cases in the nation.

On Friday and Saturday, several state and county investigators were searching a farm in Adams County, roughly 10 miles away from the Rhoden family massacre scene. A second search in Peebles was conducted Friday along State Route 41. Earlier Saturday, several police and government vehicles were seen leaving Flying W Farms in in Piketon on Camp Creek Road. Authorities have not detailed what evidence, if any, was collected.

In overnight hours of April 21 and 22 in 2016, eight people were shot to death in four homes near Piketon in rural southern Ohio. Six adults and a 16-year-old boy were discovered to have been shot execution-style. An eighth victim was found with nine gunshot wounds.

Three young children and two infants were left alive during the shooting.

The victims in the case are: Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20, Dana Rhoden, 37, Gary Rhoden, 38, Hanna Rhoden, 19, Hannah Gilley, 20, Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

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