ON THE PIKE/ADAMS COUNTY LINE — Tears well in Leonard Manley’s eyes with nearly every mention of his slain daughter and her three murdered children.
But they never spill onto his cheek.
Manley, a man who doesn’t have much but his family, is too proud for that.
In all the talk around town following the acts of violence that decimated his family, Manley sees a guilt by association forming in speculation about the case. He is fierce in his defense of his daughter, Dana Rhoden, who was 37, and wants to clear the air.
“They are trying to drag my daughter through the mud and I don’t appreciate that,’’ Manley, 64, said Monday surrounded by family members and stacks of photo albums outside the trailer he shares with his wife Judy.
Manley spoke to The Enquirer in a nearly hour-long interview just a half-mile down the road from the mass slaying and the cordoned-off crime scenes. Sheriff’s cars continually drove past and helicopters whirred above as he, his wife and their relatives struggled to understand who would want his family dead.
Still, he also voiced anger and frustration with authorities trying to solve the unfathomable crime.
“If they tell me she was mixed up in this,” he said, “I would call them a liar and escort them off.”
‘I think they should all just leave us alone’
Dana was the third of his four children. His youngest, Bobby Jo Manley, 36, found her sister dead when she went to feed the family’s dogs and chickens around 7 a.m. Friday. Bobby Jo, who stood by her father during much of the interview, is having the toughest time with the deaths: “She don’t sleep, she don’t eat. She’s pretty busted up,” he said.
According to Leonard Manley, when Bobby Jo showed up last Friday morning, the front door was locked and the dogs were nowhere to be found. There were at least two pit bulls, a “wolf-dog” and “coon dogs” that lived with his family members. Manley questioned why the killer or killers didn’t shoot the dogs, which he described as fierce.
“Why wouldn’t they do that?” Leonard Manley said. “Somebody had to know them dogs.”
Bobby Jo declined to discuss the crime scenes or talk much Monday, but did say she and several of her family members had talked to investigators repeatedly. The last time, investigators came and woke up her and five other people at 3:41 a.m. Sunday, she said.
“The Pike County Sheriff’s wanted to ask me the same questions the BCI did,” she said, adding that investigators seem to be fixated on when she found the bodies. They said it was earlier, Bobby Jo says. But she said, she went there around 7 a.m.
“I think they should all just leave us alone,” she said in a moment between tears.
Leonard Manley looked up as his daughter and sighed.
“Look, we are just hillbillies,” he said. “We ain’t got no revenge in our hearts.”
Eight relatives dead, three children spared
Dana Rhoden, 37, her ex-husband, Christopher Rhoden, Sr., 40; and their three children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Chris Rhoden Jr., 16 were among eight people each found shot in the head Sunday morning.
Also killed were Frankie’s girlfriend, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and Christopher’s cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has called the crime “a pre-planned execution” and “a sophisticated operation.’’ Authorities say they anticipate a long, methodical and difficult probe into the deadliest mass killing so far in 2016 in the United States.
Investigators found three marijuana growing operations at three locations at the crime scenes, which included three trailers just down the road from Manley’s home Union Hill Road. A fourth scene, and the last body, was discovered a few miles away on Left Fork Road.
DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader have declined to say if drugs are a possible motive in the killings.
Leonard Manley said he learned about the marijuana grow sites in news reports Sunday and described himself as stunned.
“I don’t know nothing about that,’’ he said.
But of this he is sure, his daughter – who just moved into the trailer just a few weeks ago – could not have been involved in anything illegal.
Dana Rhoden worked full-time as a nursing assistant at the Hillside Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center in Peebles, which is about 10 miles west of her home.
Matthew Smith, the center’s administrator, said she had worked at the 49-bed facility since October and called her “a kind and caring worker” who was loved by patients and co-workers alike. She worked Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an every-other-weekend rotation.
On Thursday, she worked a double-shift after a co-worker was unable to work. She overslept and arrived at 8 a.m. and worked until about 11 p.m., Hillside manager Heather Frost-Young said.
Frost-Young, who also went to high school with Dana, described her as bubbly, hard-working and had a huge heart who loved her children.
“She was just so proud of them,” she said.
Her father said that description doesn’t surprise him one little bit.
“My daughter is a loving person, a loving mother,’’ he said, using the present tense. “You go anywhere, you ask anyone about my daughter … they will tell you the same.
“You go down and ask about Dana; they will all tell you: I spoiled my girl,’’ he said. “They would tell you her dad would do anything for her.’’
Two children with protective services, one with mother
Three children were found alive last Friday:
- Kylie Rhoden, who was five days old on Friday and is the daughter of Hanna Rhoden;
- Ruger Rhoden, 6 months old;
- and Ruger’s half-brother, 3-year-old Brentley.
Ruger and Brentley are Frankie Rhoden’s sons.
Kylie and Ruger remain in the custody of child protective services; Brentley is in the care of his mother, Manley said.
Hannah Rhoden was also the mother to a 2-year-old daughter, Sophia. That child was with a relative the morning of the murders, where she remains, Manley said.
Manley said bodies will be released to the funeral home Tuesday morning. A motorcycle club will escort them the roughly 60 miles home back to Pike County, where they will be laid out each in a casket side-by-side for the funeral service.
Chris and Dana and their three children will be buried together.
“One funeral,” Manley said, “is enough.”
Chris Graves is the Enquirer’s local columnist. Contact at her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter@chrisgraves
One thought on “‘Ain’t got no revenge in our hearts,’ Pike Co. family says”
This can’t be too hard to figure out. It was someone they knew well enough the dogs were comfortable with them. Also someone who was pissed about money matters or respect in the course of business. They also knew every family member involved in the business. So the family knows who did it.