Wagner family matriarch claims innocence as case is dismissed

Updated: Jun. 26, 2019 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - Fredericka Wagner is professing her innocence.

All charges against one of the two Pike County grandmothers accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Pike County massacre case have been dropped.

“It was dismissed because I was innocent. They have no evidence against me. I was innocent,” Wagner said outside court Wednesday.

“It was dismissed because there wasn’t any proof because she’s innocent. We’ve said that from day one,” James Owen, Wagner’s attorney, said.

READ MORE | Pike County Massacre

Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa filed the motion during Wagner’s last pretrial hearing before her case was to go to trial in July Wednesday afternoon.

The judge accepted the motion and the case is officially dismissed.

The special prosecutor did not want to comment after the charges were dismissed against the 76-year-old grandmother so we may never know whether or not the prosecution believed they had enough evidence to convict Wagner.

Back in March, Wagner’s attorneys James Owen and Charles Koenig filed a motion requesting the charges against her be dropped.

RELATED | Pike County massacre: Wagner grandmas head back to court - will charges be dropped against 1?

Prosecutors accuse Fredericka Wagner of covering up the murders by lying about bulletproof vests she bought online, but her attorneys say a receipt she provided shows she purchased them after the murders, not the night of.

“I bought them after the crime. After the tragedy. Two weeks later and we proved that. I’ve had to prove my innocence twice,” Wagner said.

Prosecutors contended that Wagner lied about buying bulletproof vests days after eight members of the Rhoden family were shot to death.

Wagner’s son George “Billy” Wagner III, 47, his wife Angela, 48, and their sons Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, and George Wagner IV, 27, are all charged with aggravated murder and face the possibility of the death penalty.

Rita Newcomb, the mother of Angela Wagner, is charged with with obstructing justice, perjury and three counts of forgery.

TIMELINE: Rhoden family murder investigation

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.

All were shot in the head, most several times, according to autopsy records.

READ MORE | Pike County Massacre: 3 years later

Wagner’s trial was scheduled to begin on July 29.

It’s unclear if Canepa and Pike County prosecutor Rob Junk plan to dismiss charges against Newcomb as well.

Gov. Mike DeWine, who was Ohio Attorney General at the time of the Pike County massacre, told FOX19 NOW he has no comment on the charges being dropped against Fredericka Wagner.

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