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Pike County murders: Pre-trial hearing scheduled today George Wagner III

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 @ 6:52 AM

George W. “Billy” Wagner is scheduled for arraignment.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled Wednesday afternoon for George Wagner III, one of four people suspected of murdering eight family members in Pike County in 2016.

Wagner’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Pike County Common Pleas Court. 

Investigators say Wagner, 47, and three of his relatives killed eight members of the Rhoden family in April 2016. The suspects were arrested in November. 

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Also in custody are Wagner’s wife, Angela Wagner, 48; and their sons, George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 27 and 26. All are facing aggravated murder charges in connection to the slayings. 

In addition, Rita Newcomb, 65, of South Webster and Fredericka Wagner, 76, grandmothers in the Wagner family were arrested. They are charged with trying to “cover-up” the crime, officials have said. 

Investigators have said the Rhodens were murdered in part because of a custody dispute involving a then 2-year-old child. Jake Wagner fathered the child with Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims.

All six suspects were indicted in November on the following charges: 

George Washington Wagner III, Angela Jo Wagner, George Washington Wagner IV and Edward Jacob Wagner are each indicted on the following charges:

  • 8 counts aggravated murder, (plus gun specifications on each)
  • 1 count conspiracy
  • 4 counts aggravated burglary
  • 1 count unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance
  • 3 counts evidence tampering
  • 1 count forgery
  • 1 count unauthorized use of property
  • 1 count interception of wire, oral or electronic communication
  • 1 count obstructing justice
  • 1 count engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity

Jake Wagner also faces one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor involving the relationship he had with Hannah Rhoden.

Rita Jo Newcomb is indicted on:

  • 3 counts forgery
  • 1 count obstructing justice
  • 1 count perjury

Fredericka Carol Wagner is indicted on:

  • 1 count obstructing justice
  • 1 count perjury

The murder victims are Hannah Rhoden, 19; her father Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20; and relatives Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38.

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