The youngest victim of the Piketon massacre had a "goofy" laugh and fierce devotion to his family, friends told NBC News as they struggled to comprehend the loss of the spirited Ohio teen.
The execution-style killings have rocked Piketon, around 95 miles east of Cincinnati and home to around 2,000 people.
Samantha Tschudy said she had known Rhoden since kindergarten. Tschudy collapsed when she heard the news, "crying and freaking out so hard."
Rhoden "lit up a room" and was "always there to help" a friend in need, Tschudy said, no matter what time of day or night.
"I knew I could run to Chris if I needed help and he would be there," she explained. "He was an amazing, amazing, loving, caring person ... especially to his family."
"There's no reason for anyone to do it," Tschudy added, beginning to cry. "They didn't deserve it at all."
She said that Rhoden "would do anything" for his family — "he loved all of them."
Classmate Felicity Scheyler echoed Tschudy in saying she too was struck by Rhoden's dedication to his family.
"He loved his nephews so much," she told NBC News.
A 4-day-old baby and two other children escaped the slaughter which claimed Rhoden's life.
Rhoden had "the most wildest spirit," she added, describing her friend's love of fishing and music.
Scheyler said she'll never forget her friend's laugh — "so goofy" — and his smile, which was "something."
She was at school when she heard about the massacre and told NBC News she immediately jumped onto Facebook to send her friend a message.
"Everyone in the school was posting on his Facebook statuses, saying, 'Chris, just get a hold of us,'" she explained. "Everyone just wanted to have the ... thought, you know, that he was still alive."
She said she still "couldn't believe it" when her friend was confirmed to be among the dead.
"We just wanted to think that it was somebody else, it wasn't him."