Arrest made related to 2016 rural Ohio slaying of family of 8

A relative of the eight family members who were brutally murdered in a rural Ohio town last year was charged with two felonies in a Pike County court Wednesday.

James Manley, 40, turned himself in Tuesday night after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He faces charges of Tampering with Evidence and Vandalism, both felonies, for destroying a $300 GPS device that was placed on his truck as part of the ongoing investigation into the April 22, 2016, murders of the Rhoden family members.

“The charges Manley faces are not uncommon when a witness destroys such a device used in a government investigation,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in a statement.

Manley is the older brother of Dana Manley Rhoden, who was one of the eight victims. No other arrests have been made in relation to the case and public details surrounding the investigation have been scarce.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation authorized the decision last month to place the tracking device on Manley’s truck. The warrant detailing the decision remains sealed and Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, confirmed the records will not be released.

However, Manley’s father, Leonard Manley, who has openly criticized investigators and accused authorities of “grasping at straws,” provided The Cincinnati Enquirer with a copy of the warrant.

According to reports from the newspaper, the warrant indicated authorities believed Manley’s truck may have been used in connection to murder or used by a person with the intent to carry out murder.

The warrant was one of a dozen pertaining to the case, including one which authorized the seizure of a trailer linked to the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims, although the significance of the trailer is not known.

The warrants also indicated Manley was in contact with the ex-boyfriend, although the elder Manley, whose daughter and grandchildren were among the victims, said the contact between the two was nothing unusual and that they often exchanged text and Facebook messages.

The elder Manley also said his son did not know the GPS device belonged to authorities and that there were no markings or other indicators to imply ownership.

Tierney declined to provide additional details on either the investigation or Manley’s arrest, only noting that he is considered a “witness.” Authorities have made no public indication that Manley is a suspect in the slayings.

Manley remains in the Ross County Jail on an $80,000 bond.

The murder scenes spanned across four homes and rocked the otherwise serene farming town that has never in its history had such a gruesome crime occur. The killings were described as execution-style, well-planned, and methodical.

The family member who first discovered the scene, described one house as being covered in blood, with the victims appearing as if someone “beat the crap out of them” before they were shot. Three children were also found in the homes, alive and physically unharmed, including a baby who was lying in bed beside her mother when she was shot and killed.

The victims were identified as: Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Kenneth Rhoden, 44; Gary Rhoden, 38; Dana Rhoden, 37; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Hannah Gilley, 20; and Hanna Rhoden, 19.

Marijuana growing operations were found in three of the four homes. Authorities have not said whether they think there is a connection between the operations and the murders but did confirm the victims were targeted and went so far as to warn other members of the Rhoden family to arm themselves for their own protection.