Police stationed at roadblocks leading up to the crime scenes near Piketon, Ohio, in April 2016
WCPO via YouTube screenshot

The slaughter of eight family members in Ohio is being called a "preplanned execution" as authorities look for leads in the horrific crime that has rocked the community, the Associated Press reports

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news conference Sunday that the killing of seven adults and one teenage boy that took place at four different homes near Piketon on Friday was "a sophisticated operation."

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"This was a preplanned execution of eight individuals," DeWine said. All eight victims were shot in the head. Most of the victims were targeted in their sleep. 

According to AP, authorities are not divulging any details about the ongoing investigation, including possible motives for the crime or the names of suspects. Authorities did note, however, that signs of marijuana "operations" were found at three of the crime scenes, according to AP, although they did not say whether the deaths were linked to the drug. Autopsies on the victims are expected to be completed Monday, the newswire notes. 

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Pike County, Ohio, Sheriff Charles Reader confirmed that it was clear that the family was targeted. Although Reader did not believe that safety was an issue for other family members, he did say, "If you are fearful, arm yourself," according to AP.

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"This was very methodical. This was well-planned. This was not something that just happened," Reader added. 

The victims are identified as Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his 16-year-old son, Christopher Rhoden Jr.; Kenneth Rhoden, 44; Gary Rhoden, 38; Dana Rhoden, 37; Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Hannah Gilley, also 20; and Hanna Rhoden, 19.

Hannah Rhoden was found in bed with her newborn baby nearby, authorities said. The child, only about 4 or 5 days old, was not harmed; nor were Hannah Gilley's 6-month-old baby and one other small child. 

DeWine said that the state's crime lab was looking at DNA and ballistic evidence, and authorities have already executed five search warrants. 

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"We don't know whether it was one or more people involved in this," DeWine said.

AP notes that the exact timing of the shootings is still unclear. The first 911 call came in just before 8 a.m. Friday, with the second coming in several hours later from another location. Two of the crime scenes are within walking distance of each other, while the third is more than a mile away and the fourth is at least a 10-minute drive away. 

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