Pike County grandmothers in court for roles in Rhoden family slayings

Wagner matriarch in Pike County court

PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Fredericka Wagner and Rita Newcomb are scheduled to appear in court Thursday for charges in connection with the Rhoden family murders.

Wagner is the mother of George “Billy” Wagner III and Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner. The couple and their two adult sons are accused of killing eight members of the Rhoden family in April 2016.

Wagner is charged with one count of obstructing justice and one count of perjury.

Pike County grandmothers arraigned

Newcomb is also charged with obstruction and perjury, but she faces additional charges for forging custody documents involving her now 5-year-old great granddaughter. Sophia Wagner is the daughter of Jake Wagner and Hanna Mae Rhoden.

Wagner was released on bond Nov. 15 after posting a surety bond of $100,000. One of the terms of her release was that she remain in her Lucasville home under electronic monitored house arrest.

Prosecuting attorneys say Wagner has a lot of money and claim secret meetings were held in her home that included her son and his family. They say the conversation centered around the possibility of one of the family members getting house arrest and what would happen if they did.

She asked the courts Nov. 29 to modify the terms of her house arrest so that she can continue to work at Crystal Springs Home.

Newcomb was released from the Pickaway County Jail on a $50,000 bond Nov. 20.

Her attorney originally asked the court to release Newcomb on her own recognizance.

“She’s worked hard during her life. She’s been a school teacher. She’s been an over-the-road truck operator and she’s been teaching school for several years in the various grades,” said defense attorney Franklin Gerlach. “There’s no risk of flight in this particular matter.”

Newcomb’s hearing Thursday was mostly procedural. She was ordered to have zero contact with any of the co-defendants in the case -- her family members -- and the judge told her representation to work up a motion regarding her ability to drive to and from her farm. Her next pre-trial hearing was set for March 28 at 10 a.m.

READ MORE: Mother charged in Rhoden family murders to have no contact with family members

Angela Wagner and George Wagner IV made their second appearances in court earlier in the week. Both pretrial hearings were brief and ended without any major development.

George was allowed to appear in court wearing plain clothing instead of a prison jumpsuit.

So far, prosecutors have asked that the Wagners have no contact with each other while in jail awaiting their trials.

READ MORE: Eldest Wagner son makes second court appearance in Pike Co. slayings

Billy Wagner, 47, Angela Wagner, 48, and their sons Edward “Jake," 26, and George IV, 27, are charged with aggravated murder and face the possibility of the death penalty.

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.

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