George Wagner & Family Accused in Ohio Rhoden Murders George Wagner III, Angela Wagner, and the couple’s two sons – George Wagner IV and Edward Wagner – are accused in the murders of eight people, seven of whom belonged to the Rhoden family of Ohio. The bloodbath, which was spread throughout four homes, was known as the Rhoden family massacre.
“Custody of that young child plays a role in this case,” Ohio Attorney General and Governor-elect Mike DeWine said in a news conference, alleging that the Wagners “conspired” together to create an “elaborate plan” to murder the Rhodens, planning the slayings for “months” and studying the victims’ habits and routines. They knew the layouts of the victims’ homes and knew where they slept, DeWine alleged. The Rhoden family was “brutally murdered in the middle of the night,” the prosecutor in the case said.
The news of arrests in the more than 2-year-old case came on November 13, 2018. DeWine wrote on Twitter, “The suspects – a husband, wife, and their two adult sons – are now charged with K.illing eight people: seven members of the #RhodenFamily and the fiancée of one of the victims.”
“We promised that the day would come when arrests would be made in the Pike County massacres. Today is that day,” said DeWine, calling the investigation the longest and most labor-intensive case his office has ever undertaken.
The mass murder shocked people throughout Ohio; in one instance, a mother was slainas she lay next to an infant, who was not harmed.
Some of the Rhoden Family Members Were Slain Execution Style as They Lay in Their Beds
“These four individuals are now in custody for allegedly committing this heartless, ruthless, cold-blooded murder,” said DeWine.
“These are the faces of the victims, an entire family and members of their extended family, massacred. Many of them were killed as they slept,” said DeWine, listing each victim’s name as large photos of the victims were displayed on a television screen. “All eight victims …were brutally and viciously executed. The killers knew the territory and meticulously planned” the murders, he said.
Children ages 3, 6 months, and 5 days old were spared at the scene, he added. “At the center of this case are members of one family who we believe the evidence shows conspired together to kill” the Rhoden family, described as their friends. They each face multiple counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications for all four suspects, said DeWine. Aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence were among the other charges levied at the suspects.
“It’s heartbreaking,” State Attorney General Mike DeWine said at the time. “The one mom was killed in her bed with the 4-day-old right there.”
n a press release, Ohio AG DeWine, Pike County Sheriff Charles S. Reader, and Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk announced the arrests of the four people “for the murders of eight people in Pike County on April 22, 2016.”
“The images of the houses, the bodies, the scenes, I can never erase them,” said the sheriff in the November 13 news conference. “Today we have the answer. Members of one family planned, conspired, and carried out…to wipe out members of another family. They did this quickly, coldly, calmly, and very carefully – but not carefully enough. They left traces. They left a trail. The parts to build a silencer. The forged documents. The cameras, cell phones. All that they tampered with. And the lies – all the lies they told us.”
Authorities previously said that the victims were shot.
The members of the Wagner family are originally from South Webster. They were “taken into custody this afternoon (November 13, 2018) and are charged with planning and carrying out the murders,” the release says, naming the accused as:
- George “Billy” Wagner III, 47
- Angela Wagner, 48
- George Wagner IV, 27
- Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26
According to My Dayton Daily News, the strongest link between the two families comes through Jake Wagner, who “fathered a daughter” with Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims. In 2017, investigators searched the property of Flying W Farm, which is owned by another Wagner family member, the newspaper reported. Jake Wagner sometimes found employment fixing cars, the site reports.
According to The Anchorage Daily News, George “Billy” Wagner was arrested in Lexington, Kentucky, after authorities pulled over a horse trailer. It was not clear why he was in Kentucky. Authorities had informed the public in 2017 that they were seeking information on the Wagners.
The victims were named as: 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 murdered, as was Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and cousin Gary Rhoden, 38. You can see a photo gallery with pictures of some of the victims
Hanna Rhoden was a nursing assistant who enjoyed photography. Dana Rhoden was a nurse’s aide. The victims included a teenager and “a grandmother, grandfather, their two adult children, the girlfriend of one of their children and the brother and nephew of the grandfather,” The Daily News previously reported.
Dana Rhoden’s Facebook page, now a tribute page, is still active. Some of her posts were religious in nature. “For my Savior, Jesus Christ, A new Facebook challenge…I am out to prove that my friends will repost this, I hope I am right!!! Let’s lift up His name and make a statement!! When Jesus died on the cross he died for YOU and ME. If you are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, copy and repost!” she wrote.
The Wagner Family Moved to Alaska After the Homicides
On Facebook, George Wagner the son wrote that he lived in Kenai, Alaska, was from Peebles, Ohio, and was single. My Dayton Daily News reports that the entire family resettled in Alaska for a time. George Wagner’s cover photo is the engine of a car. His profile picture shows him with a young boy; Angela Wagner wrote on that post, “Happy birthday to my oldest son. I love you and am so proud of you. We can’t wait to see you in the morning. Love you always.” His other visible posts show a pickup truck.
“We always felt from the beginning that the perpetrators were very familiar with the victims and their homes,” said DeWine, “and the Wagners certainly were.”
The killers left several young children unharmed during the carnage.
The Wagners – and their attorney – have consistently denied that the Wagner family was involved in the Rhoden family murders. In 2017, Jake Wagner told Cincinnati.com that the family moved to Alaska to get away from the finger pointing. “Really the point to moving up here was to basically get into a better environment so they wouldn’t talk about us. Sophia is getting older, so she wouldn’t hear it,” Jake Wagner told the newspaper from Alaska. “And then it followed us here.” Sophia is Wagner’s daughter with Hanna Rhoden.
DeWine said the family had lived in Alaska but moved back to Pike County. “Hard, tough police work” solved the case, he said, adding that it sent investigators to multiple states.
Some of the family members have multiple entries in Pike County court online records. Some of them involve evictions and land contracts for which they are plaintiffs. George Wagner III was accused of a third-degree felony for allegedly tampering with evidence in 2009.
Angela Wagner, the family matriarch, also has entries in the Pike County court records for the same offense as her husband. In 2017, a friend wrote on Angela’s Facebook page, “Merry Christmas 🎁 Angela !!! I hope your enjoying that winter ❄️ up there !!!” She responded, “Thanks. It is awesome but we do miss friends and family. Hope you guys have a wonderful christmas.” According to The Anchorage Daily News, Angela Wagner called Hanna Rhoden as similar to a daughter to her.