In Pike County, OH…
George “Billy” Wagner III , 47; his wife Angela Wagner , 48; son George Wagner IV, 27; and son Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26 were arrested this afternoon in connection with the 2016 murders of 8 members of the Rhoden family. Each of the Wagner’s has been charged with 8 counts of aggravated murder, and the family is facing additional charges including “conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, aggravated burglary for allegedly breaking into the homes to carry out the murders, unauthorized use of property, obstruction of justice, interception of wire, oral or electronic communications and forgery for allegedly forging child custody documents”.
The Rhoden family murders occurred on April 21-22, 2016. The victims,
Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their three children, Hanna May Rhoden, 19; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie Rhoden’s finacee, Hannah “Hazel Gilley,” 20; brother and cousin of Christopher Rhoden Sr., Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38 were discovered in three houses on Rhoden family property and one mobile home in a nearby town. All of the victims were found to have been shot execution style, some in their sleep. Three small children, ages 3-months, 6-months and 4-days-old were found at the scene alive.
Police focused in on a multiple-shooter theory early in the investigation, due to the distance between the four murder locations, and Rhoden family members were vocal about their suspicions that someone who knew the family must have committed the crimes as Dana had two large, reportedly protective dogs. While the Rhoden property was discovered to be housing a marijuana grow house operation and evidence that family members may have been breeding chickens for cockfighting, a custody battle is being alleged by investigators as a motive for the killings while drugs have been cited as merely an “undercurrent”.
Many details of the investigation are being held back from the public, but it appears from early reports on the arrest that the Wagner’s engaged in a years-long conspiracy of lying and tampering with evidence. This one will be interesting to follow once it comes to trial and the full story emerges.