Wagner patriarch makes court appearance in Pike County massacre case

Wagner patriarch in Pike County court

PIKE COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The Wagner family patriarch charged in the brutal, execution-style slayings of eight members of a Pike County family made his fifth court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

READ MORE | Pike County Massacre

George “Billy” Wagner III is one of four of his family members charged in the Rhoden family murders from April 2016.

He, his wife Angela, 48, his sons George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, are all charged with aggravated murder and face the possibility of the death penalty.

His last court appearance March 29 lasted less than 10 minutes as did the appearance on Wednesday.

Once again, Wagner appeared in plain clothing with no handcuffs or restraints.

The judge asked Wagner if he was seeing his attorney as often as he wanted and needed to and he replied “yes”.

Wagner responded “yes” when the judge asked him if he was satisfied with his representation.

When asked if he had any complaints he wished to address to the court, Wagner said “not at this time”.

The judge brought up a motion hearing set for Sept. 17 and said he thought that there were two or three items they might be able to address right away.

Both sides agreed to a stenographic record of all proceedings in the case and having all sidebars transcribed.

The other motion was in regard to the defendant appearing in regular street clothes with no restraints, which is already occurring, and both sides agreed to as well.

All three motions were granted by the judge.

Police arrested Wagner in Lexington, Kentucky Nov. 21, which was the beginning of a string of arrests that saw his immediate family members locked up on murder charges.

His mother Fredericka Wagner and his mother-in-law Rita Newcomb are charged with obstruction of justice and perjury.

In his Jan. 17 court appearance, he was allowed to have contact with his sister Robyn, whom his attorneys say he is ‘very’ close with.

During that hearing, the prosecution turned over 30 gigabytes of discovery evidence for the defense attorneys to review.

Wagner’s attorney said it’s only about 10 percent of the total evidence in the case.

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The victims are 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.

The bodies of the Rhodens were found in four separate trailers at two locations near Piketon the morning of April 22, 2016.

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