Wagner mother pleads not guilty to all charges in Pike County massacre

Angela Wagner pleads 'not guilty'

WAVERLY, OH (FOX19) - Another member of the Wagner family has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the Pike County massacre.

Angela Wagner, 48, was arraigned Thursday in Pike County Common Pleas Court.

She is being held without bond at the Scioto County Jail.

LIVE: Angela Wagner is scheduled to appear in court for her role in the Pike County massacre. --> https://bit.ly/2DRx3lx

Posted by FOX19 on Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wagner, her husband and two grown sons were indicted earlier this month on eight counts of aggravated murder with the possibility of the death penalty and several other charges in the April 2016 execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family.

George “Billy” Wagner, 47, will be arraigned on the same charges next week, on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. He is being held without bond at the Butler County Jail.

Their sons, Edward “Jake” Wagner 26, and George Wagner IV, 27, both pleaded not guilty to the charges when they made separate court appearances earlier this week. Jake Wagner is held without bond at the Franklin County Jail, and George Wagner is held without bond at the Ross County Jail.

Angela Wagner appears in court for her role in the Pike County massacre.
Angela Wagner appears in court for her role in the Pike County massacre. (Source: Schupp, Kim)

The sons' grandmothers, Rita Newcomb, 65, and Fredericka Wagner, 76, are accused of assisting with covering up the killings.

They were arraigned earlier this month, posted bail and were released on house arrest.

Six charged in connection to the Rhoden family massacre.
Six charged in connection to the Rhoden family massacre. (Source: Schupp, Kim)

A Wagner family attorney has said they will be vindicated.

Pike County Common Pleas Court Judge Randy Deering has imposed a gag order in the case.

Anyone involved, including law enforcement and attorneys, is barred from talking to the media.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk has said he wants to keep the trials in the county.

Authorities announced the arrests earlier this month, more than two years after the murders on April 22, 2016.

The slayings are considered the state’s most complex homicide investigation to date, resulting in more than 1,000 tips, hundreds of people interviewed and dozens of search warrants.

The victims were family patriarch Christopher Rhoden, 40; his older brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; his cousin, Gary Rhoden; his former wife, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and their children: Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna Mae Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley.

All were all shot in the head -- most several times -- according to autopsy records released in September.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were killed in Pike Co. in April 206.
Eight members of the Rhoden family were killed in Pike Co. in April 206.

A custody dispute over the child, who is now 5, is a factor in the massacre that wiped out eight members of the Rhoden family and led to the arrests of six members of Wagner’s family earlier this month, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“We won’t be able to say much about motive, but you’ll see from the indictments, custody of this child was a factor,” DeWine said in a Nov. 13 news conference after the arrests.

While searching the crime scenes, officials have said they found marijuana “grow operations,” including one with more than 100 marijuana plants.

DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader won’t say if the drugs contributed to the motive, but DeWine did say drugs were an “undercurrent” in the case, along with money.

A special prosecutor have said during previous bond hearings that a confidential informant told investigators the four Wagners charged with killing the Rhodens met at Fredericka Wagner’s home and talked about what they would do if anyone was arrested.

The discussion included escaping and getting revenge against investigators, including the Pike County sheriff, DeWine and a BCI agent.

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