COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The slayings of eight family members in rural southern Ohio was a "pre-planned execution," authorities said Sunday, telling residents they are safe but to arm themselves if they're fearful.
The Friday killings at four homes near Piketon was "a sophisticated operation," Attorney General Mike DeWine said at a news conference in the small community that has been on edge since seven adults and one teenage boy were found shot in the head.
Authorities remained tight-lipped Sunday about details of the investigation, any suspects or motives for the crime. They said they found marijuana operations at three of the crime scenes, but didn't say if the deaths were linked to pot.
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said that in his 20 years in law enforcement, he never interacted with the Rhoden family "in a criminal nature." He said it was clear the family was targeted, however, and he's told the victims' relatives to arm themselves.
Reader said he didn't believe safety was an issue for others, but he said "If you are fearful, arm yourself."
Authorities have been scrambling to determine who targeted the clan and why. Investigators have interviewed between 50 and 60 people in hopes of finding leads, and a team of 38 people is combing wooded areas around the shooting scenes to ensure no evidence was missed, authorities said.
DeWine said the state's crime lab was looking at 18 pieces of evidence from a DNA and ballistic standpoint, and five search warrants have been executed. Autopsies were expected to be completed Monday.
"This was very methodical. This was well planned. This was not something that just happened," said Reader, noting most victims were targeted while they were sleeping.