No charges dismissed, trials now set for Pike County grandmothers charged in massacre cover-up

Trials set for Pike County grandmothers charged in massacre cover-up

WAVERLY, OH (FOX19) - The two grandmothers charged in connection with the Rhoden murders in Pike County back in 2016 now know when they will stand trial.

Fredericka Wagner and Rita Newcomb are not facing murder charges but are both accused of perjury and obstructing justice by misleading investigators.

Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner. She, along with her husband and two sons, are facing capital murder charges for the Rhoden murders.

Prosecutors say Newcomb misled investigators to cover up the crime and forged custody documents for her grandson, Jake, who’s daughter Sophia was 3 years old when her mother Hannah Rhoden was killed.

Judge Randy Deering set a final pre-trial hearing for June 14, and trial dates of July 8 through July 10.

In an afternoon session Thursday, bulletproof vests that Fredericka Wagner bought took center stage. The 76-year-old is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Investigators seized two vests from her home and prosecutors say she lied to the grand jury about who they were for. Her defense says it doesn’t matter.

“How can the bulletproof vests be material to who you indict for the Rhoden homicides when she purchases them uncontestedly ... May 7, 15 days after the Rhoden homicide,” said attorney James Owen.

Fredericka Wagner’s attorney also filed a motion to dismiss charges against her but the state prosecutor said there was no basis for that to happen.

“The state is requesting that the court overrule the defendant’s motion to dismiss but also strike it from the record,” said special prosecuting attorney Angie Canepa.

Judge Deering agreed with the state and the motion to dismiss the charges was denied.

The judge also set a trial date for Fredericka Wagner -- it will begin July 29.

In addition, Wagner’s request to modify the conditions of house arrest was granted.

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