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In wake of national anthem protests, school honors police, first responders in pregame ceremony

Nearly every day, there are headlines about high schoolers, college students, singers and professional athletes taking a knee or sitting out during a pregame performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner.”

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Middletown police celebrationPosted by The Asbury Park Press on Friday, October 21, 2016

>> Watch the video here

These protests have come after Colin Kaepernick, of the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand during the national anthem for this year’s NFL games. Kaepernick, and those who have followed in his footsteps, wish to open a dialogue about racism in the United States, specifically the number of high-profile police shootings of African-Americans.

On Friday night in Middletown, New Jersey, students, teachers, parents and residents came together to turn the pregame ceremony into something a little different before a football game between Middletown High School South and rival Toms River North.

The pregame ceremony included a mammoth tribute to police officers, firefighters, military and other first responders. 

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“There’s too much violence going on,” Carmine Babino told the Asbury Park Press.

“I didn’t grow up in that, and I don’t want them to grow up in that,” he said of his children.

Hundreds of local officers came together to march on the field. Linden police Officer Angel Padilla, who helped capture bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahimi, was given an award. Bagpipes played, people cheered and an American flag was unfurled on the field.

Despite the good tidings of the event, the American Civil Liberties Union believed that it set a frightening precedent.

“The statements made by the deputy police chief and the event’s ostentatious show of power send an ominous, frightening message: that, as an official stance, law enforcement will not tolerate expressions acknowledging our nation’s history of unequal treatment and systematic oppression,” Jasmine Crenshaw, ACLU-NJ organizer, said.

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Prior to the game, Middletown Deputy Police Chief Steve Dollinger had condemned those who protest the national anthem.

“It’s OK to stand up for social justice, inequality and reform,” Dollinger said, according to the Asbury Park Press.

“It’s another thing to not stand up for the national anthem.”

Celebrities, athletes react as Cubs clinch first pennant since 1945

The Chicago Cubs on Saturday clinched their first National League pennant in 71 years, beating the Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the NLCS. Next stop: The World Series, where the Cubs will face the Cleveland Indians.

>> Sheen offers to throw out first pitch at World Series

>> Cubs' comeback: Social media reacts to Chicago's dramatic NLDS win

After the historic win, celebrities and athletes took to Twitter to celebrate. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see what people were saying

>> Read more trending stories

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5 Ways to Prevent Food from Going to Waste

Food spoils--and quickly! When thinking about your own kitchen, you may not view the food you toss or the leftovers you never eat as money down the drain, but food waste has a major impact on your bank account and the environment. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that "American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. The cost estimate for the average family of four is $1,365 to $2,275 annually." Fortunately, you can start at home and do your part to help curb food waste. You’ll be thinking green and stretching your dollars further at the same time. Some simple changes can have big effects! Here are a few ideas to get you started. Create a plan—and stick to it! Meal planning is a critical step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you're going to eat today, tomorrow and this coming weekend, you will only purchase the foods you need at the store, preventing you from buying foods on a whim only to have them spoil before you eat them. Creating the plan isn't enough—you must stick to it if it's going to work. Setting your sights for making chili next weekend is great, but when you lose track of time during the week and let the veggies wilt, you are throwing away more than spoiled food; you're wasting your money, too. Stay on top of your planned meal schedule by keeping a calendar on the fridge to remember what’s on the menu each day. When planning, account for all the foods you have to buy and creatively use them throughout the week. Use that eight-pack of whole-wheat hamburger buns for a cookout one night and tuna sandwiches for lunch the next day, for example. Scrape your scraps. Look for new ways to use food scraps. Instead of throwing away half an onion or extra bits of carrot, store extras in a container in the freezer. Once you’ve saved enough, boil them in water to make your own homemade vegetable broth that you can use when cooking rice and soup. (You can also compost your food scraps.) Don't like the heels of a loaf of bread? Chop them up and bake your own croutons, or dry them to use as breadcrumbs. (Your heart will thank you, too! Most store-bought breadcrumbs still contain trans fat.) Leftover bits of chicken, fish, shrimp, or tofu can be used in a soups or salads the next day. If you have a dog, you may be able to treat her to certain scraps from fruits, vegetables, and meats as a treat, but check with your vet first. Plan to preserve. Consider preserving your own food if you don't have time to eat it before it goes bad. Pickling, canning, drying (dehydrating) and freezing are all ways to extend the shelf life of many fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We often only think of cucumbers when it comes to pickling, but in reality, almost any vegetable can be pickled. Canning your own fruits, vegetables, sauces and soups can be a fun family event, and it can make farm-fresh foods available all winter. Raisins are dried grapes, but have you ever considered drying mango, pineapple or apple slices? This can be done in a food dehydrator or on a low setting in your oven. However you do it, drying fruit is a great way to make your own grab-and-go snacks and to prevent fruit from going bad. The freezer is often underutilized. Bread, scrambled egg mix, leftover coffee, tea, and broths can all be frozen for later use. Your homemade soup, cooked rice and other dinner entrees can also be frozen if you don't have a chance to eat the leftovers in time. Try using an ice cube try to store single serving pieces of purees, sauces and beverages. Freeze leftover coffee for an iced coffee drink, or a cube of frozen veggie broth to whip up some gravy later in the week. Make smoothies down the road by freezing mashed or chopped fruit. Almost anything can be frozen except for canned foods in the can (although they can usually be removed and frozen) and eggs in the shell. The USDA’s Freezing and Food Safety information sheet offers tips on freezing food and thawing it successfully. Keep your eyes on the size. Serving up the correct portion size can help stretch you food dollars and eliminate waste created from uneaten portions—not to mention cut calories for weight management! You should be getting two servings from each boneless, skinless chicken breast. If you’re cooking for one or two, cut your meat into the correct portion sizes and freeze the rest that you won’t eat right away. Stick to these proper portions to feed more people per dollar and cut down on what you may be scraping off the plate! Compost. Throwing away (or composting) food should be your last resort if you can't eat it or preserve it first. When food lands in a landfill, it's out of sight, out of mind. So what's the big deal? Well, food and lawn waste makes up 25% of all waste in landfills, which are so densely packed that oxygen isn't readily available. When oxygen is lacking during the decomposition process, the food emits methane gas, which is 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. All this methane is bad for the environment, and the inhospitable conditions of landfills make it difficult if not impossible for natural materials like food to break down properly. Each ton of organic matter we can divert from a landfill can save 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. Plus, composting can provide you with your very own "black gold" for free, allowing you to condition and enrich your soil, saving money and turning your food into nutritious fertilizer that will nourish future plants. If you can’t think of a way to utilize extra foods and food scraps, composting is a better alternative than the trash. Think of it as a way to save the nutrients you’ve paid for by transferring them into new foods as you garden! Many foods can be composted, and it's a lot easier and sanitary than you might think. Check out SparkPeople's Composting Guide for Beginners to get started. Overall, reducing food waste requires you to become more aware of what you’re tossing and come up with creative ways to utilize the scraps—or prevent them entirely. Becoming a leftover king or queen, being a savvy shopper, and serving up proper sizes will all help you become a more efficient user of food, saving you money and helping preserve our natural resources. Selected Sources: Garden Compost from Freezing and Food Safety from Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill from the NRDC Article Source:

The 8 Best Fast Food Breakfasts

You know that breakfast is important, but when you're in a pinch in the morning, sometimes fast food is the quickest option. It's no secret that fast food isn't the healthiest or most nutritious option, but when it's the only option, whether you're traveling or running late for work, it helps to know how to make the best choices. Some menu items are definitely better than others. There are countless grab-n-go restaurants, each offering a different menu from the next, and with a little searching, you can find one option at each location that's lower in fat, sodium and calories than the others. Many fast food breakfasts can provide enough fat to last you all day, enough saturated fat for three days and sodium in levels that will make your blood pressure spike just looking at them. So how do you make the right choice? Do your research before you're in a pickle so that you know what to order for your quickie meal. Nearly every fast food restaurant lists nutrition information on its website, and SparkPeople's nutrition experts have done the research for you, listing the best options (or lesser evils) for each restaurant in our Dining Out Guide. And here, we’ve put together a "best of breakfast" list to guide you through your morning. And with the heftiest breakfasts out there racking up around 1,000 calories, placing a smart order can help keep you continue achieving your goals even when you’re pressed for time. When you’re ordering, look for keywords that will tip you off to selections that are higher in fat and calories. High-fat meats like sausage, bacon and steak are sure to add grams of fat (and saturated fat) to your breakfast. A bit of cheese on an egg can fit into a great calorie level for a meal, but extra cheddar topped on a breakfast sandwich or burrito can send it over the edge. Some restaurants add sauces to their meals that can amp up the calorie level, so stipulate no sauce or sauce on the side, if possible. Any menu choice with a biscuit will usually be higher in the calorie and fat department than English muffins or toast. One thing you won’t find when you’re looking at the drive-thru menu is the presence (or amount) of trans fats in each food. Many restaurants have eliminated trans fats from certain menu items, a smart move because trans fat is now known to be the most unhealthful fat you can consume. It's so bad, that experts are saying we shouldn't eat any, yet some restaurant foods contain up to seven grams of trans fat. This is information you’ll need to seek out before you place your order. Trans fat should be avoided whenever possible. If the nutrition facts on a restaurant website don't list trans fat, be wary. Below, we’ve done a bit of research for you by picking one breakfast item from each of eight popular fast food restaurants. None of these breakfast choices are ideal in terms of nutrition or health promotion, but if you’re going to choose fast food, these items have the fewest grams of fat, trans fat and calories at their respective locations. Note that the sodium levels are still quite high, as they are in most fast food options, so select lower sodium foods throughout the rest of the day to balance out your total sodium intake. Restaurant & Menu Item Calories Total fat Saturated Fat Trans fat Sodium Arby's Egg & Cheese Sourdough 392 12 g 3 g 0 g 1,058 mg Burger King Ham Omelet Sandwich 330 14 g 5 g 0 g 1,130 mg Carl's Jr. Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich 460 21 g 9 g Unknown 1,050 mg Chick-Fil-A Chicken Burrito 410 16 g 7 g 0 g 940 mg Hardee's Frisco Breakfast Sandwich 420 20 g 7 g Unknown 1,340 mg Jack In The Box Breakfast Jack 290 12 g 4.5 g 0 g 760 mg McDonald's Egg McMuffin 300 12 g 5 g 0 g 820 mg Subway Cheese Sandwich 400 17 g 7 g 0 g 940 mg None of these items should be part of your diet on a regular basis, but as the occasional treat or breakfast on-the-run, you can make them fit into an otherwise balanced and healthy diet. For more healthy and quick breakfast ideas that you can grab from your own kitchen, check out these speedy morning meal ideas. And remember that with a little planning, breakfast can be quick, easy, and healthy. This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.Article Source:

Your Good-Better-Best Guide to the Grocery

One of the best things about supermarkets can also be the most confusing: all the choices! When walking from aisle to aisle, it can be overwhelming to look at all the products in each section. Just think of all the choices when you’re looking at the entire wall of cereal or a large cooler packed with tiny yogurt cups! Trying to find the best item—especially when you're trying to eat healthier or watch your intake of calories, fat or sodium—is not always a walk in the park. Within each section of the grocery store, you'll find plenty of healthful foods that can help you reach your goals. But sometimes you have to make a food choice based on budget constraints, availability or taste preferences that isn't ideal. Not to worry. This "Good, Better, Best" guide will help you make the best possible choices on your next trip to the store. If you're new to eating healthy, start at the bottom and work your way up to the top of the lists over time. Even if all you can afford is in the "good" category, you're still doing pretty well. If you prefer the taste and texture of the "better" item to the "best" choice, that's OK, too. Or maybe you're facing a hotel breakfast buffet or trying to find something healthy to eat at a party and all you'll find is the "good" choice. No matter what your situation, you'll still be able to make the best possible choices by using this simple guide. MILK Good Better Best 2% milk 1% milk Skim milk It has 3 fewer grams of fat than whole milk, yet still offers calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and protein for your body. It's a useful stepping-stone as whole- and vitamin D-milk drinkers make the healthy transition to low-fat dairy. With a mere 2 grams of fat per cup, it slashes the fat found in 2% milk by more than half. This lower-fat version of milk still has 30% of the daily dose of calcium, as well as vitamin D. It's fat-free, yet provides about the same amount of calcium and protein as higher-fat options. This is the best choice, especially for heavy milk drinkers. Skim milk may take some getting used to because it’s thinner, but it has lower amount of saturated fat and your heart will love that. YOGURT Good Better Best Low-fat Low-fat + fortified Plain nonfat Greek Low-fat yogurt is made with skim or low-fat milk, which cuts calories and fat but still provides calcium and protein. Beware of added sugar (plain yogurt, flavored with fruit or topped with whole-grain cereal is your best bet). A great up-and-coming trend in the yogurt aisle is supplementing yogurts with vitamin D. There aren’t many food sources of vitamin D, which helps in immunity and cancer prevention, so this is a great way to get an extra dose. This plain, thick, smooth yogurt has 21 fewer grams of sugar and 60 fewer calories than it's fat-free, flavored counterparts but still leaves in a great amount of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Get our expert recommendations for the best yogurts. BREAD Good Better Best Whole grain 100% whole wheat Light 100% whole wheat Bread "made with whole grains" usually contains a mix of refined flour and whole grain flour. It has a lighter texture and taste than whole wheat, making it a good choice for people who are transitioning from white bread to 100% whole-wheat bread. While it's lower in fiber, it is usually enriched with vitamins and minerals. Bread made with 100% whole wheat doesn't contain any refined or enriched flour. It's less processed and higher in fiber than white bread and whole-grain breads. Make sure "whole wheat flour" is the first ingredient on the label or else it's an imposter! This combines 100% whole wheat with calorie control. Some of the whole-wheat varieties can pack up to 100 calories per slice. Light whole-wheat bread can help you cut up to 130 calories from your sandwich if you're watching your weight. Here's how to pick the best bread. CEREAL Good Better Best Cereal without marshmallows, bright colors or clusters Whole-grain cereal Whole-grain cereal that's low in sugar If you're going to eat cereal, avoid those made like desserts (with marshmallows, clusters, chocolate flavors and bright colors). Cereals that meet these criteria are enriched with vitamins and minerals (better than nothing), but they are highly processed, full of sugar--sometimes up to two tablespoons per serving--and seriously lacking in fiber. A cereal made with whole grains is a better choice, but don't believe anything you read on the front of the box. Look for whole grains to be the #1 ingredient on the nutrition label and make sure there is at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest and Kashi Autumn Wheat are good options that contain 6 grams of fiber per serving. The best cereal is made from whole grains and very little sugar (5 or fewer grams per serving). Grape Nuts and Total are good examples. If you’re used to cereal with more sweetness, add fresh berries or sliced fruit to help you get your 5-a-day. Get SparkPeople's top cereal picks here. PASTA Good Better Best Durum wheat pasta Whole-wheat pasta Omega-3 enriched whole-wheat pasta Standard spaghetti noodles, made from durum wheat, aren't inherently unhealthy. They're slightly less processed than semolina pasta and contain some protein and plenty of carbohydrates for energy. But durum wheat flour is refined and stripped of important nutrients like fiber. Whole-wheat noodles contain more fiber and protein per serving, while providing energy-giving carbohydrates. Load them up with vegetables and low-fat tomato sauce for a nutritious meal. Get more nutrition per bite with whole-wheat noodles that are enriched with omega-3’s. Commonplace in most supermarkets, they provide all of the goodness of whole-wheat pasta with an added dose of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. DELI MEAT Good Better Best Chicken or turkey slices Low-sodium lean meats Whole cuts of meat (preferably homemade) Buying lean deli meat cuts like chicken or turkey is better than bologna, salami and processed meats, which are higher in fat and sodium and contain nitrates, which are believed to be carcinogenic. Low-sodium lean meats are better choices for your sandwiches. Look for a low-sodium version of your favorite lean lunch meat (such as turkey or chicken). Purchasing your own skinless chicken or turkey breast to grill or bake, then slice is the best way to go. It's lower in salt, less expensive, and won't contain any of the additives of processed or packaged meat slices--and you can cook it yourself to reduce the fat and calories, depending on your method. With all the options in the grocery store, it’s easy to find items to feel good about buying. But remember: Healthy eating isn't about perfection. All foods do have some merits and even if you can't eat ideally all the time, that's OK. By striving to make the best choices from what is available to you, you'll make a real difference in your health! This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople resident expert Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.Article Source:

4 Good Reasons to Buy Local Food

If you’re buying California-grown organic strawberries because you know organic food is better for the environment, then you might want to reconsider your purchase—or at least your motivations. While choosing organic over "conventional" does reduce the pesticide burden on the ecosystem, shipping organic food thousands of miles across the country creates an even greater environmental woe—fossil fuel consumption. Says Barbara Kingsolver, author of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, transporting fruit from California to New York, for example, is about "as efficient as driving from Philadelphia to Annapolis and back in order to walk three miles on a treadmill in a Maryland gym." In a 2005 issue of the journal Food Policy, researchers stated that although organic farming is valuable, the fact that organic food often travels thousands of miles to get to our supermarkets creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. Before the advent of the highway, most food was grown or raised on family farms, packaged or processed nearby, and sold in local retail outlets. Today, this has become the exception to the rule, as the average North American meal logs more than 1,500 miles from farm to table. Although this shift results in an exceptional selection at the grocery store, it causes a host of other problems. Taste, quality, freshness, and nutritional value all decrease, and the environmental burden balloons. So what’s the alternative? Buy local. Buying food that a nearby farmer has grown or raised uses far less fossil fuels, and the benefits don’t stop there. Locally grown food is also better for:

  • Your taste buds: Traditionally, farmers selected breeds of crops for their flavor and growing abilities, and let them ripen until ready to eat. Now, more often than not, breeds are selected for their ability to withstand the rigors of cold storage and cross-country transport and are plucked from the vine far before their time. This results in tomatoes whose flavor only slightly resembles tomatoes and strawberries that are strawberries in name only. Buying local will yield food so fresh and ripe that your taste buds won’t know what hit them.
  • Your health: The moment an item of produce parts from its mother plant, its nutritional value begins to decline. Produce at the supermarket has likely been in transit or sitting in the display case for days or weeks. Local produce was probably picked in the last 24 hours and is still in its nutrient prime.
  • Farmers: According to Stewart Smith from the University of Maine, in the year 1900, 40 cents of every dollar a consumer spent on food went to the farmer. Today, only 7 cents goes into the pockets of food growers. The remainder is spent on storage, packaging, marketing, and shipping. Farmers are struggling more than ever as a result. Buying directly from local farmers can help reverse this trend.
  • Your local economy: In his book Eat Here, Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, Brian Halweil states that, in comparison to imported produce, "a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy." All that extra money circulating in your neck of the woods translates into better schools, safer streets, and nicer parks perfect for picnics with all the healthful foods you purchased locally.
Buying local also means buying what’s in season in your area and not buying what isn’t. Thanks to modern supermarkets, we’re so accustomed to having what we want when we want it (watermelon in April, asparagus in September and tomatoes in the dead of winter) that eating any other way sounds like deprivation. Yes, getting used to tomato-less winters can be a challenge. You'll soon realize that tomatoes taste better when you’ve waited for them, not only because they’re at their season’s best, but also because you’ve waited. Kingsolver says, "It’s tempting to reach for melons, red peppers, tomatoes, and other late-summer delights before the summer even arrives. But it’s actually possible to wait, celebrating each season when it comes, not fretting about it being absent at all other times because something else good is at hand." The variety of a local, seasonal menu is a boon to your health, too. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) recommends choosing a variety of foods, to cover all of your nutritional bases. Eating local fits the bill. There is no strict definition for mileage of local food, but generally anything grown within a 50- to 100-mile radius is considered local, and obviously, the closer the better. The best source for it is your local farmers market. You’ll find veggies, fruits, meats, and cheeses, and you’ll get to buy them from the hands that picked, dug, fed, or cultured them. Depending on what you’re buying, the price may be higher or lower than you’ll pay in a supermarket, but it will always be fresher and tastier. To find a farmer’s market near you, check out Another option is to join a buying club. Farmers deliver many orders to one person’s home (or another centralized location), and the rest of the club members pick up from there. To find a buying club in your area, visit, select your state, and look for the "Beyond the Farm" link at the top of the page. It will take you to a directory of buying clubs that exist in your state. Local food isn't just another passing trend. While it might be difficult or impossible to buy all of your food locally, any amount of local food you can find and purchase will still benefit the health of your community, the planet, and your own body, too.Article Source:

6 months later, skepticism, rumors abound with grisly 'massacre' of Ohio family still unsolved

Six months later, these wooded hills are holding tight to their secrets.

Neighbors say it’s much quieter on Union Hill Road than it was when Chris Rhoden Sr. and his family raised fighting roosters, bred dogs and salvaged cars for sale. Chris Jr. would tear up and down the road on a four-wheeler.

The mobile homes where the father and son and six members of their family were found shot to death April 22 are warehoused, along with dozens of vehicles, at a chemical plant outside nearby Waverly.

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Free-standing porches mark the spots where the homes were towed from three properties deep in the hills, now shaded by scarlet and burgundy leaves. Barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs block the driveways. A playground, rusted boat, boarded-up barns and car parts spot the yards. Someone planted small American flags and solar-powered lights, one for each victim.

Six months later, no one has been arrested for what Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called a “cold-blooded, calculated massacre.”

Rumors far outnumber official information coming from an ongoing investigation.

Family members and their neighbors pray for justice, but many are losing hope. Residents of Piketon and Waverly quietly shake their heads when asked if they think the crime will be solved.

Leonard Manley, whose daughter and three grandchildren were among those killed, said he thinks they’ll find the killers “one of these days.”

“It may not be in my lifetime,” said Manley, 65. “I got five, 10 years maybe to live.”

Manley keeps a photo collage of the victims: Chris Sr. and his ex-wife Dana Rhoden; their three children, Hanna, Chris Jr., and Frankie; Frankie’s girlfriend Hannah Gilley; and Chris Sr.’s brother Kenneth and cousin Gary.

They were shot a total of 32 times, mostly in the head. Manley said his daughter Dana was shot in the head five times.

“It’s more like a hate crime than anything,” he said of the barbaric nature of the killings.

But three children were left alive — ages 3, 6 months and 4 days. Manley said one was found covered in blood because he was nursing when his mother was murdered.

A fourth surviving child was staying elsewhere that night. Some of the children remain in protective custody.

Plenty of rumors

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader’s confirmation last week that he believes someone from Pike County is behind the slayings came as little surprise to those who knew the family.

“Whoever done it had to know the dogs,” said Manley, who lives a half-mile from the nearest crime scene. He said Chris Sr. had a vicious pit bull named Chance that even he wouldn’t go near without Dana or Chris around.

“I guarantee if anyone pulled up to his garage and took a step on the concrete where the wire (invisible fence) wasn’t, I’ll tell you he’d been bit,” Manley said.

Manley said he has received more information from the media than from the Sheriff’s Office or the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. And the hills are full of rumors: that this was about a road rage incident, a child custody battle, a dispute over a demolition derby car, a drug deal gone bad, and on and on.

Manley doesn’t know what to believe. Authorities have refused to dispel even the most farfetched claims.

Manley said even his son and daughter — Dana’s brother and sister — were suspects, which Manley said was offensive because his children were close and Dana and her big brother had a “special relationship.”

“If they asked me what they asked my daughter and my son I’d come across the desk and I’d beat the hell out of one of them,” he said. “They asked them how much someone paid them to kill that family.”

Manley said if he knew who did it, “the sheriff wouldn’t have to worry about it.”

‘Bigger than that’

Initial reports that investigators found a large marijuana grow operation at the crime scene fueled speculation that Mexican drug cartels could be involved, considering the apparent sophistication of the crime and prior reports that Mexican organized crime was previously active in the area.

But Reader put that to rest for the first time in an interview with Cincinnati television station WCPO.

“With the nature of the investigation, and the things that’s been revealed while conducting the investigation, there would be no indication to me as to any type of Mexican drug cartel being involved,” he said. “It wasn’t because they had a couple little indoor grows, wasn’t because there was just a couple of cars on the property that may have been stolen. It’s much bigger than that.”

DeWine’s office would only say that there were at least two killers and at least one of them was familiar with the property.

The attorney general’s office also provided statistics on what has become one of the largest criminal investigation in state history. It has included more than 150 interviews, more than 100 pieces of evidence submitted for testing, roughly 90 office staffers working on the case at some point, and more than 700 tips to chase down.

‘Locked and loaded’

Meanwhile, Manley and others say they sleep with firearms within reach, ready to defend their homes if someone kicks in a door or breaks a window.

“I’m locked and loaded in there about seven times,” said Brian Distel, who lives next door to Bobby Jo Manley in a cluster of trailers known as Camp Creek. Bobby Jo first found the bodies and called 911.

“I try to keep an eye out for her too,” he said.

Luke Rhoden, whose father was Kenneth, was stoic about whether his family was still in danger. He doubts the killers will come back.

As for whether the killers will be brought to justice, he said: “I think eventually, yeah. But soon? Probably not. If someone knows anything, they’re too scared to come forward.”

Pessimism, politics

At the edge of nearby Piketon, diners at the Riverside Restaurant enjoyed fried eggs and burgers on Texas toast on Wednesday. Waitress Amanda Kinsley said the shootings were “the big talk for a good while,” but now it rarely comes up in conversation.

Whoever did it, “I think they’re long gone,” she said.

Likewise at Ritchie’s BBQ, bar patrons could all describe in detail exactly where they were when they heard of the horrific crime. But that late April day gradually has faded from conversation.

“I don’t think it’s gonna get solved,” bartender Heather Colesinger said, noting the revelation that the killer may be someone local follows numerous other claims that turned out to be false.

“Next week, it’ll be the Mafia or something,” she said.

The yards and fields of Piketon, Waverly and the rest of Pike County are peppered with political signs, many supporting Reader, but also for his Republican challenger Delbert Slusher.

Amid this campaign, a former Waverly police officer and sheriff’s deputy has printed a tabloid that circulates across the county. It accuses Reader of criminal acts. Reader denies the accusations.

DeWine also faces pressure to end the investigation with an arrest, as he plans a run for the Ohio governor’s mansion in 2018.

And costs are growing. Pike County officials are trying to get help from the state to cover the tab for moving and storing the evidence: $135,000 and growing.

Help stalled

The ongoing investigation also has frozen assistance usually available to families and survivors of violent crime.

Some of the victims had life insurance, but Manley said investigators are holding up autopsies and other reports needed to apply. Similar problems are stalling applications for victim’s compensation from the state.

The inheritance process is stalled in probate court because the family’s property is being held as evidence. Some speculate it will all be kept by the county as drug forfeiture, though one family member said they were told it won’t. It’s unclear when the property will be released; the storage lease is good through mid-May.

Manley said he hopes to auction off his daughter’s belongings, including 15 cars in her name.

“Whenever it’s all said and done, the four grandchildren are going to get all of it,” he said.

Manley said a woman came to him claiming she was a friend of his daughter and raised money selling balloons and other things, but he said he found out a week ago that she pocketed the cash.

A dispute among family members forced GoFundMe to refund $8,220 raised to pay for the funeral for Dana and her children, he said.

‘Somebody knows’

Manley credits the congregation of the Union Hill Church, about a mile from the Union Hill crime scene, for support, including paying off the expenses of burying his daughter and grandchildren.

Dana, Chris and their three kids share a grave site on a rolling hill overlooking the Scioto River Valley. A hand-painted rock on Dana’s grave is the only tombstone. But the ground is covered with solar-powered angel and cross lights, silk flowers, photos, a Keystone Light beer can, deer antler and other remembrances.

Pastor Phil Fulton of Union Hill Church said the community is concerned that the slayings may never be solved. Faith in law enforcement is low, he said, but they try to help each other.

“We’re hoping for somebody to just come up and say, ‘We have some evidence,’” he said. “That’s been my prayer. Somebody knows. We know that.”

Boy with Down syndrome scores touchdown

Sixth-grader Grant Pearson didn’t expect to take the field, much less score a touchdown.

The honorary football team captain for the Waynesville Middle School Spartans wears a jersey and goes to all the home and away games. It was no different for the game on Saturday against Bellbrook Middle School. That is, until Grant was sent onto the gridiron after the first quarter. He received the ball around the 50-yard-line and took it all the way to the end zone.

“Did you see how fast he was? He took off,” coach Tim Sizer said. “I think he outran all his blockers. It was beautiful. We’re so happy that he did it.”

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It’s no secret that Grant, who has Down syndrome, is “a fanatic about sports,” as his father, Jim Pearson said. “And to see him out here with his friends and running down the field … it’s just heartwarming."

Wayne Local Schools earlier in the week reached out to Bellbrook about giving Grant a field experience, to which it readily agreed, Sizer said.

“It was about more than just a football game,” the coach said.

The Saturday football game also happens to fall in the middle of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

“He was having the time of his life,” said his mother, Janet Pearson. “It was just a thrill for him to do that. That was really cool.”


WATCH: Boy with Down Syndrome gets ready to score touchdown for team


WATCH: Boy with Down Syndrome scores touchdown for his team
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