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Pike County murders: 5 things to know about latest developments

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 6:59 AM
By: Will Garbe - Staff Writer

The case of the Pike County murders became more complex this week with investigators asking the public to focus attention on one family.

Four members of that family — the Wagners — are now believed to be in Alaska, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Here are five things to know about the latest developments in the case:

MORE: Alaska pastor says Ohio family attended church Sunday

1. There are no named suspects

DeWine hasn’t named suspects in the case. He has, however, asked the public to focus attention on four members of the Wagner family.

Investigators want more information about Edward “Jake” Wagner, 24, George Wagner IV, 25, George “Billy” Wagner III, 46, and Angela Wagner, 45. All are uncharged.

“We’re not really labeling them,” DeWine said in an interview with this newsroom. “But we are saying we want to have the public focus on these four individuals.”

MORE: Who are the Wagners? Investigators want to know

Wagner family “interactions, conversations, dealings, or transactions … which could be personal, business, or otherwise” are of interest to investigators, with specific emphasis on “vehicles, firearms, and ammunition,” the attorney general’s office said.

2. The Wagners are believed to be in Alaska

DeWine said the Wagners are believed to be living in Alaska.

Kelly Cinereski, pastor at Resurrection Bay Baptist Church in Seward, Alaska, told the Daily News the Wagner family attended his son’s church Sunday a couple hours west in Kenai. The pastor has not seen them personally during the Wagners’ latest trip to the Alaska, but said the family brought trailers.

MORE: Alaska, Ohio police ‘inundated’ with Pike County murders tips

Cinereski said he believes the Wagners are moving to the area — located a winding three-hour trip southwest of Anchorage — something they have been planning to do much of the decade-plus he has known them since he headed a church in Minford, Ohio. Over the past 11 years, the Wagners have come up three times to visit and fish.

3. A grandmother said the family has nothing to do with the murders

Investigators searched the Wagner family’s current and former Ohio property — including grandmother Fredericka Wagner’s Flying W Farm — last month.

Jake Wagner fathered a daughter with Hannah Rhoden. Rhoden was one of the eight people murdered in the massacre from the Rhoden and Gilley families.

“They have nothing,” Fredericka Wagner said Tuesday in a Dayton Daily News interview. “Their searches have turned up zilch. Nothing. And they aren’t going to either because Jake had nothing to do with it.”

MORE: Pike County murders: Searches prompt more questions

Besides Hanna Rhoden, those killed in the attack were her father, Christopher Rhoden Sr.; her mother, Dana Rhoden; her brothers Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden and Christopher Rhoden Jr.; Frankie Rhoden’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley; a cousin, Gary Rhoden; and Kenneth Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden’s brother. They ranged in age from 16 to 44.

4. Investigators might have a lead, an expert said

Experts said DeWine’s language likely means investigators have a lead in the case, but need more information before making arrests or naming suspects.

MORE: 3 recent developments in Pike County murders case

“Obviously, they have a lead from somewhere,” said Timothy Shaw, a former FBI special agent. “What you do is you get tips,” but then investigators must corroborate them.

DeWine’s office has not responded to Shaw’s comments.

5. There is a $10,000 reward for information

Ohio authorities ask those who have information in the case to call the Pike County Sheriff’s Office at 740-947-2111. Authorities said information provided will remain confidential, and a $10,000 reward is still in effect.

Read more Pike County murders coverage:

» Pike County murders: ‘There will always be a scar on this town’

» Pike County murders: A closer look at the 8 who died