State And Regional

‘Good won today and evil lost,’ Pike County prosecutor says of outcome in George Wagner IV’s trial

WAVERLY, Pike County — “Good won today and evil lost,” Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said Wednesday in response to a jury finding George Wagner IV guilty on all charges in the Pike County murders.

The moments that followed the reading of the verdicts brought tears not only from the families of the victims, but from Junk as well.

>> RELATED: Pike County jury finds George Wagner IV guilty on all charges in slayings

“They stuck with us through the whole investigation, through the whole trial,” he said in a news conference following the announcements of the verdicts. “We don’t get that level of cooperation, I apologize, (pauses and gets choked up) from every victim’s family. I want to say I appreciate everything you’ve done for us and sticking with us.”

Tony Rhoden, whose brother Christopher was among the people killed six years ago, said he felt sorry for Wagner.

“Because he is human,” Rhoden told News Center 7.

Wagner, his brother Jake and their mother Angela have all been convicted for their roles in the eight murders.

George Wagner IV was previously indicted on multiple counts of aggravated murder, as well as other charges. He’s been accused of killing Hanna Rhoden, 19; her father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley, 20; and relatives Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38, execution style in April 2016.

He and his brother, Jake Wagner; mother, Angela Wagner; and father, George “Billy” Wagner, have all been accused of the murders. Jake pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated murder and a list of other charges for his role in April 2021. Five months later, Angela Wagner pleaded guilty to her role in the killings.

The jury in Wagner’s case deliberated about 7 1/2 hours before returning its verdict. Prosecutors dropped the death penalty as a possible punishment when both Jake and Angela agreed to testify against George.

Billy Wagner is the only one remaining to be tried.

Family members of the victims are well aware of that fact.

“If there’s one thing that we don’t take for granted anymore is we love the ones we got and never let go because you never know their last day,” said one, April Manley.

Sentencing is scheduled for mid- to late December.