Arraignments set for four Rhoden murder suspects

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Angela Wagner

Angela Wagner

George “Billy” Wagner III

George Wagner IV

Edward “Jake” Wagner

The four main suspects in the Rhoden family murder each will have their first day in court in the coming weeks, according to Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.

Each suspect, each a member of the Wagner family, is charged with, among other things, eight counts of aggravated murder, one count for each victim of the Rhoden family massacre which took place in April 2016.

Each of the four potentially face the death penalty.

The first murder suspect to face Pike County Common Pleas Judge Randy Deering will be Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26. He will have his initial day in court 9 a.m. Tuesday, Junk said.

In addition to the murder charges, each of the four main suspects face charges of forgery apparently relating to child custody documents. Edward Wagner also faces a fourth-degree felony count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

According to the indictment against him, Edward Wagner engaged in sexual conduct with one of the victims, Hannah May Rhoden, when he was age 20 and she was age 15. Custody of their child, Sophia Wagner, currently in state custody, has been described by Junk and others involved in the prosecution as key to the motive behind the massacre.

Next up in court will be George Washington Wagner IV, 27. He will be arraigned 10 a.m. Wednesday. Angela Wagner, 48, and mother of the two previously mentioned suspects, will be in court 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Finally, extradited from where he was arrested in Kentucky, family patriarch George “Billy” Wagner III, will face a judge 1:30 p.m., Dec. 3.

The two other suspects in the Rhoden case were arraigned Nov. 14 and are in fact out on bail, though each is also under electronically monitored house arrest and barred from any contact with the families of the victims. Grandmothers in the Wagner family, Fredericka Wagner, 76, and Rita Newcomb, 65, both pleaded not guilty during their arraignments.

Both face felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury. The latter charges stem from false testimony the two allegedly presented in July to a Pike County grand jury investigating the murders. Newcomb also faces charges for allegedly forging child custody documents regarding Sophia Wagner.

Newcomb is Angela Wagner’s mother. Fredericka Wagner is the elder George Wagner’s mother.

Angela Wagner Wagner

George “Billy” Wagner III “Billy” Wagner III

George Wagner IV Wagner IV

Edward “Jake” Wagner “Jake” Wagner

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]