Vigil commemorates 8 slain in Ohio shooting massacre

PIKETON, Ohio (AP) — Clutching lighted candles and launching balloons, hundreds of people came together to recall eight people killed in a shooting massacre in rural Ohio.

The vigil Friday night at the Pike County fairgrounds brought together family members, friends and community residents to commemorate the lives of those slain April 22 at four homes near Piketon.

Many people present wore T-shirts with photos and messages on them, The Columbus Dispatch reported. There were hugs, tears and stories from those who knew the victims well.

The victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., 19-year-old Hanna and 20-year-old Clarence, or “Frankie”; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; their cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden; and 20-year-old Hannah Gilley. Three young children were unharmed.

After receiving hundreds of tips, authorities still have not announced any arrests or motives.

“This is a loving community,” said Leonard Manley, Dana Rhoden’s father, before the vigil began. “If you’ve got a friend who comes up and hugs you, that’s the greatest thing in the world,” he told The Dispatch.

Fifteen-year-old Samantha Tschudy had known Christopher Rhoden Jr. since kindergarten and he was a former boyfriend. “This is the hardest day yet,” she said.

Her mother, Melissa Tschudy, helped organize the vigil, which also was a fundraiser for the victims’ families.

A funeral is planned for Saturday for Gilley in Otway, Ohio. She was the fiancée of Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden. Gary Rhoden’s funeral was held Thursday in Kentucky.

Other funerals will take place on Tuesday.