NEW PHILADELPHIA Dover, Oh

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Waverly, Ohio - A husband, wife, and their two adult sons have been arrested for the murders of eight people in rural Pike County.

The arrests were announced Tuesday by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, and Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.

The South Webster family includes George "Billy" Wagner III, 47, his wife, Angela Wagner, 48, and their sons George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward "Jake" Wagner, 26. Each is charged with eight counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications.

The Wagners are accused of killing seven members of the Rhoden family and the fiancée of one of the victims at four different Pike County homes on April 22, 2016. 

"We promised the victims' families that the day would come when this case would be solved, and today is that day," said Attorney General DeWine.

The victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37, and their three children, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20. Frankie Rhoden's fiancée, Hannah "Hazel" Gilley, 20, was also killed, along with the elder Christopher Rhoden's brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and cousin Gary Rhoden, 38. Most of the victims were killed as they slept, and three young children at home at the time of the murders were left physically unharmed.

DeWine said the indictments allege that the family developed a calculated plan to execute the victims in the middle of the night and then carefully cover their tracks. 

The suspects were arrested Tuesday after being indicted by a Pike County grand jury that had been examining evidence since July. The indictments come less than a week after authorities confirmed the existence of a homemade firearm suppressor believed to have been built by the suspects.

DeWine says the Wagners were friends with the Rhodens and knew the layouts of the victims' homes and their routines.

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.

The indictments allege that the suspects purchased ammunition, a magazine clip, brass catcher(s), and a bug detector in preparation for the crimes. They also allegedly obtained and shared information about the physical layouts of the victims' properties, their habits and routines, sleeping locations, and countersurveillance devices present on their properties, including pets.

The indictments accuse the Wagners of tampering with phones, cameras, a silencer, shell casings, and parts of a home security system. 

Jake Wagner is also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual contact with Hanna May Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old. Jake Wagner is the father of Hanna May Rhoden's older daughter, who was staying with the Wagners on the night the homicides took place. All four suspects are accused of forging custody documents.

Also arrested Tuesday were Angela Wagner's mother, 65-year-old Rita Newcomb of South Webster, and Billy Wagner's mother, 76-year-old Fredericka Wagner of Lucasville. Both are facing felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury for allegedly misleading investigators over the course of the investigation. Newcomb is also charged with forgery.

The six arrests are the result of a joint investigation led by the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and the Pike County Sheriff's Office. The cases will be prosecuted by the Pike County Prosecutor's Office and the Ohio Attorney General's Special Prosecutions Section acting as special assistant prosecutors. Several dozen state, local and federal agencies assisted in the investigation.

Anyone with additional information related to the murders should call BCI at 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or the Pike County Sheriff's Office at 740-947-2111.
 


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