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Pike County murders: Trial date set for grandmother accused of cover up

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2019 @ 2:07 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2019 @ 1:11 PM

Drone camera views of the Pike County murder scenes one year later.

The trial date has been set for one of two women accused of helping family cover up the Rhoden family murders.

RELATED: Grandmothers have pretrial hearings, next court date set

Rita Jo Newcomb’s trial for perjury, obstruction of justice and forgery is scheduled to begin July 8.

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Newcomb’s final pretrial hearing was scheduled for June 14.

Fredericka Wagner, who is also facing perjury and obstruction of justice charges, will be in court later this afternoon.

INITIAL REPORT:

Two women accused of helping cover up the Pike County murders will appear in court today for separate hearings, records show. 

Fredericka Wagner and Rita Jo Newcomb are facing a count of obstructing justice and a count of perjury in the Rhoden family murders.

Newcomb also was indicted on three counts of forgery.

Wagner is the mother of George “Billy” Wagner III. Billy, his wife, Angela Wagner, and their sons, George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner, have been charged with planning and carrying out the deaths of the eight Rhoden family members on April 22, 2016. 

RELATED: Movie’s use of gun silencer mirrors that of slain family, evidence shows

Newcomb is Angela’s mother.

A custody battle is an apparent motive in the killings, officials said. Jake Wagner has a 2-year old daughter with one of the victims. 

Investigators combed through 1,100 tips, but the final piece of evidence that led to the indictments of the Wagner family and their arrests on Halloween were due to the finding of the gun silencer that the suspects are accused of using to execute the Rhoden family, according to then-Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

The homemade gun suppressor that prosecutors found was at the bottom of a well on property the Wagner’s used to own, according to court documents.

RELATED: Timeline: The shocking events of the Pike County massacre

During a pretrial hearing held in January, the judge issued non contact orders, forbidding the grandmothers from speaking to each other or the four members of the Wagner family.

Both women have been placed on house arrest. 

We will update this story with any new details that emerge from today’s court appearance.