Sunday, April 24, 2016

Is the "pot economy" behind eight murders in rural Ohio?

NPR reported Friday on eight "execution-style" killings in the Appalachian part of Ohio.  The following excerpt quotes Mike DeWine, the Ohio Attorney General:  
Each one of the victims appears to have been executed. Each one of the victims appears to have been shot in the head. ... The family involved, we're advising the family members to be very careful and take particular caution.
Other reports are herehere, and  here.  These events occurred in Pike County, population 28,217, which is not far from Cincinnati.  The county's poverty rate is high, at 21.9%.

Then, the Los Angeles Times reported today:
Two of the crime scenes are within walking distance of each other along a sparsely populated, winding road that leads into wooded hills from a rural highway. The third residence is more than a mile away, and the fourth home is on a different road, at least a 10-minute drive away.
I am thinking about how spatiality is shaping these events.  Here's an excerpt from today's New York Times story that suggests some aspects of rurality's relevance:
Three marijuana growing operations were found on the premises of at least one of the homes where eight members of the same family were killed in a small town in southern Ohio last week, law enforcement officials said Sunday. 
* * *

One of the victims, a woman, was killed while she slept as her 4-day-old baby lay, unharmed, in the same room, law enforcement officials said. 
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Mr. DeWine’s office, said that sheriff’s deputies discovered the marijuana operations during a search of the four homes and nearby wooded areas. Video broadcast by WCPO, a local television station, showed investigators walking through woods and searching a ramshackle shed.
Tierny added:
This is not your case where someone got mad at somebody else, they shot them, and there’s a witness, or two witnesses.
According to Pike County sheriff, Charles Reader, the investigation is “probably the largest” that has ever taken place in the county.  Slate also quotes Sheriff Reader:
This was very methodical.  This was well planned.  This was not something that just happened.
It is interesting to consider how rurality--material spatiality, distance--helped to conceal the work of the murderers, just as it concealed the pot-growing operation in the woods.  I am also intrigued--and a bit appalled--that Ohio officials have encouraged family members and associates of those murdered to arm themselves.  Here is a quote from the Slate story:
"I cautioned them they are a target and I cautioned them, 'Be armed.'  If you are If you are fearful, arm yourself."

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