Sad New Details About The Ohio Family Arrested For Murdering 8 Members Of The Rhoden Family "Execution-Style"

Photo: OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL MIKE DEWINE
Who Murdered The Rhoden Family? Details Ohio Wagner Family Murdered 8 People Execution-Style Pike County

An Ohio family was arrested Tuesday in the 2016 execution-style slaying of eight members of another family.

Three generations of the Wagner family were arrested and charged with over 80 criminal counts in connection to the massacre of the Rhoden family two years ago.

"We promised that the day would come when arrests would be made in the Pike County massacres," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "Today is that day."

Parents George "Billy" Wagner III, 47, and Angela Wagner, 48, and their two sons, George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward "Jake" Wagner, 26, were charged with eight counts of aggravated murder. Rita Newcomb, 65, and Fredericka Wagner, 76, the mothers of Angela Wagner and Billy Wagner, were charged with perjury and obstructing justice for allegedly misleading investigators. Other charges include conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, forgery, unauthorized use of property, interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, and aggravated burglary.

The Rhoden family — Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20; Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna May Rhoden, 19; Hannah Gilley, 20; Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16 — were found shot to death in their Pike County property, where authorities found marijuana "grow operations." Some of the family appeared to have been shot in their sleep as they were found dead in their beds.

Many of the victims were shot multiple times, including after they were dead, which shows aggression toward the victims, Dr. Jennifer Murray, an associate professor at Indiana State University who studies mass killings, told  WLWT.

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According to NBC, A 4-day-old, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old survived the violent attack.

DeWine said the Wagners "spent months planning the crime." The Wagners "studied the victims' habits and routines," he said. "They knew the layouts of their homes. They knew where they slept."

"We believe that the Wagners conspired together to develop an elaborate plan to kill the eight victims under the cover of darkness and then carefully cover up their tracks," DeWine said. "The killers knew the territory and meticulously planned these murders."

But they did not cover their tracks as well as they thought. 

"They did this quickly, coldly, calmly and very carefully — but not carefully enough," said Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. "They left traces, they left a trail — the parts to build a silencer, the forged documents, the cameras, cell phones, all that they tampered with. And the lies, all the lies they told us."

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According to ABC Newsinvestigators analyzed over 700 pieces of evidence, conducted 550 interviews, and followed up on more than 1,100 tips. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Oct. 30, when investigators found the "last piece of significant evidence" needed to arrest the Wagners.

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The case could take years to conclude, according to Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead of us. I cannot emphasize that enough," Junk said. "An indictment is only the beginning of the case."

Authorities declined to name a motive but believe the killings were related to an intense custody battle between members of the two families. It was originally thought to be drug-related.

"There certainly was obsession with custody, obsession with control of children," DeWine said.

Edward "Jake" Wagner shared custody of their now 5-year-old daughter Sophia, with Hanna May Rhoden. He was additionally charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual relations Hanna May Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old, according to prosecutors.

The six suspects are being held in various jails in Kentucky and Ohio. No court dates have been set. Authorities believe all involved in the Pike County massacre have been arrested.

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Sarah Gangraw writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.