Arrests Made in Execution Style Ohio Murders

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Arrests were made today in the April 2016 Pike County Ohio execution style murders of eight members of the Rhoden Family who were massacred in three separation locations, while they slept, Ohio Governor Elect Mike DeWine announced.

Four members of a former business associate of the Rhoden family, George "Billy Wagner, 47, his wife, Angela Wagner, 48, George Wagner, IV, and Edward "Jake" Wagner, were arrested without incident and charged each with eight counts of capital murder with death penalty specifications.

Two additional arrests, the mothers of George Wagner, Frederica Wagner, and the mother of Angela Wager, Rita Newcomb, were also arrested for conspiracy as they repeated lied to investigators when questioned regarding this case.


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The Wagners are also facing a series of additional charges including: 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, obstructing justice, and aggravated burglary.

Former Ohio AG DeWine, now Governor elect said, the Wagners surveilled the Rhoden family for months until they knew their patterns, habits, and homes. They meticulously prepared for the massacre, according to DeWine, they made purchases months in advance to assist in modifying weapons and leaving a clean or evidence free scene.

Governor Elect DeWine, Pike County Sherriff Charlie Reader, and Pike county Prosecutor Robert Junk, each provided information regarding the investigation, and the upcoming prosecution phase.

The Wagners family members were suspects for nearly two years, according to Governor Elect DeWine. He also added, "there are no other suspects."

The Wagner's family returned to Pike County in April 2018 after moving to Kenai, Alaska two months after the murders.

The Scene

The Rhoden Family members murdered were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, his brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; Christopher's former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 38; and their three children, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20., Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Chris Rhoden, Jr., 16., and a cousin Gary Rhoden, 38., and Hannah Gilley, 20.

The motive in this bizarre, vicious and unusually violent case centers on a long child custody dispute, over a five year old daughter, between Hannah Rhoden and Jake Wagner.

Redacted autopsy reports detailed a killer or killers who showed depraved indifference and no concern for humanity.

The gruesome accounts of the bodies indicted that all had been shot execution style in the head with a shotgun. The father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., was shot nine times and while all the victims suffered severely fragmented head injuries, the extent of the injuries Rhoden Sr., suffered caused a greater amount of physical disintegration. One of the victims was executed at point blank range, with the shotgun lodged directly against the skull.


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Governor Elect Mike DeWine indicated the Rhoden family case was the largest ever in the state and most encompassing. Hundreds of thousands of man hours, the most state of the art forensic science, travel to ten different states, including multiple trips to Alaska, and tenacity, old fashioned detective work, piece by piece, putting together a "1000 piece puzzle."

Motive

Refusing to speak directly on the evidence collected, DeWine did indicate the final piece of evidence presented before the Grand Jury was found on October 30, 2018. With this the Grand Jury indicted the family on eight counts each of capital murder with death penalty specifications.

Motive has always been sketchy with the only obvious through line the shared five year old daughter of Hannah Rhoden and Edward "Jake" Wagner. Evidence also showed the Wagners forged Children Services documents to present legitimacy.

The two families were known to have both business and professional shared interests and partnerships. The youngest son of the Wagners had romanced the youngest daughter of the Rhoden family. She became pregnant

During this time of intimacy Jake would often be at the Rhoden home given freedom without reservation. Mapping the home's interior and security features would be easy. Its more than possible she unknowingly provided information that was used in this elaborate plan, that included months if not years of methodical planning, surveillance, and stalking.

Apparently the marriage idea was rejected and Hannah. The failed relationship between the two created the beginnings of animosity.

During the initial days of the investigation, the evidence and information released to the media indicated the Rhoden family had been involved in some sort of minor marijuana distribution business. The extent of reach had never deem determined.

The possibility in 2016 that Ohio's Cannabis laws would relax to allow both recreational d and medicinal was and remains a real possibility. As it was only medicinal laws were enacted. Legal dispensaries, of which Ohio only has 56 throughout the state, requires legal grow facilities of which can generated more than $100,000 per day.

With the Pike County prosecutor, former Ohio AG DeWine, now Governor Elect, and Pike County Sherriff Charlie Reader remaining tight lipped on the evidence, the plausibility and possibility that distribution, legal or illegal, could also be in play.

The firm motive remains control, territorial control and custodial control of the underage five year old daughter.

This is a developing story.

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