PIKE COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — Eight people were found dead Friday at four crime scenes in rural Ohio, and at least most of them were shot to death, authorities said. Police say they are still actively looking for a shooter that should be considered armed and dangerous, adding that it’s unclear if the killer or killers are among the dead.
Seven of the victims, including one child, were slain in “execution-style killings” at three homes along a rural road, authorities said. Attorney General Mike DeWine said it appears all of the victims were shot in the head. One of those victims was shot in bed next to her 4-day-old child.
That child, along with two others, ages 6 months and 3 years old, survived the mass killings.
Details on the death of the eighth person weren’t immediately available, but the body was found in a fourth location, said Jill Del Greco, spokeswoman with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to provide an update on the eight deaths at a news conference scheduled for 4pm.
The four scenes spanned out across a 10-minute drive.
DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader had said earlier that seven victims were believed to be members of the same family. All were shot to death, they said.
“All of the victims are believed to possibly be members of the same family, and they were found in three Union Hill Road homes in Piketon. Early indications are that the victims, who are believed to be five adults and two juveniles, were shot to death,” the AG’s office said in a statement. “This is not an active shooter situation, however no arrests have been made. The investigation is in its very early stages, and authorities are still investigating to determine a motive, identify the deceased, and determine if the gunman is among the deceased individuals or on the loose.”
“This is a horrible horrible tragedy,” DeWine said on WLW. “It looks like two teenagers dead and it looks like young young children who must have been there when it occurred.”
DeWine’s office said a dozen Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents had been called to Pike County, an economically struggling area in the Appalachian region some 80 miles east of Cincinnati. Spokesman Dan Tierney says the Pike County sheriff’s office requested state help at 8:20am.
Tierney had no information on whether a suspect was in custody. Agents headed to the scene included members of Criminal Intelligence, Cyber Crimes and Special Investigations.
Goldie Hilderbran, 65, said she lives about a mile from where she has been told the shootings took place.
“I first heard about it this morning from our mail carrier,” Hilderbran said.
Hilderbran said the mail carrier told her deputies had stopped her from delivering mail in the area they had blocked off.
“She just told me she knew something really bad has happened,” Hilderbran said.
Gov. John Kasich, campaigning in Pennsylvania for his Republican presidential bid, said his office was monitoring the situation in Pike County.
“Reports we are receiving from Peebles are tragic beyond comprehension,” Kasich wrote on his Twitter account.
The FBI in Cincinnati also said it was closely monitoring the situation and has offered assistance to the PikeCounty sheriff’s office if needed.
About 20 family members are gathered at Union Hill Church.