Judge denies state’s motion to delay Rita Newcomb trial

Judge denies state’s motion to delay Rita Newcomb trial
Rita Newcomb appears earlier this year in Pike County Common Pleas Court.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A grandmother accused of helping cover up the execution-style killings of eight family members in rural southern Ohio is expected to stand trial Monday.

Pike County Common Pleas Court Judge Randy Deering denied the state’s motion to delay Rita Newcomb’s trial.

She is charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and three counts of forgery.

Her trial was already delayed twice, most recently on Oct. 7, to ensure the availability of one of the investigators.

Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner, whose husband, George “Billy” Wagner III and the couple’s sons, Edward “Jake” Wagner and George Wagner IV.

The four Wagners are charged with aggravated murder in planning and killing the Rhoden family on April 22, 2016.

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.

Gov. Mike DeWine said last year the custody of the couple’s daughter, Sophia, who is now 5, was a factor in the massacre.

READ MORE | Pike County Massacre

The Wagners are held at four separate jails awaiting trials. All have pleaded not guilty.

In addition to Newcomb, George “Billy" Wagner’s mother, Fredericka Wagner, 76, also was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in the massacre. But those charges were dropped.

Wagner family matriarch claims innocence as case is dismissed

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

Last week, authorities with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation and other law enforcement agencies spent three days searching the Flying W Farms in Pike County in connection to the Rhoden murder case.

Authorities confirmed the search ended Thursday but did not say what, if anything new, was found or what prompted them to conduct the search, which included divers for at least one of the ponds on the property, FOX19 NOW has learned.

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