Trial date set for oldest Wagner son charged in Pike County Massacre

George Wagner IV maintains innocence, does not match brother's guilty plea
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:24 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:25 AM EDT
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WAVERLY, Ohio (FOX19) - The trial date for the oldest Wagner son charged in the execution-style killings of a southwestern Ohio family is set for April 4, 2022.

George Wagner IV was briefly back in the courtroom Monday as a judge announced several dates.

A motion hearing date for Sept. 13, 2021, was scheduled as well.

Wagner’s lawyers also asked the court to provide tapes of the several hours of interviews the prosecution had with his younger brother, Jake Wagner, before they came to terms with a plea arrangement.

“We have not received that,” said defense attorney John Parker of the tapes. “We are entitled to that under Criminal Rule 16, and once we get it, I understand it’s more than ten hours of recorded statements. So once we get that, we need an adequate enough time to investigate.”

The prosecution said they can have the tapes to the defense by Aug. 2.

Judge Randy Deering gave the defense at least 60 days to review the interviews.

Pike County massacre: Oldest Wagner son returns to court

Monday’s hearing was originally delayed last month at the request of George Wagner’s lawyers in light of his younger brother abruptly changing his original plea of not guilty to guilty of eight counts of aggravated murder.

In the stunning development that came on the fifth anniversary of the massacre, Jake Wagner also pleaded guilty to 15 other charges including conspiracy, burglary, and tampering with evidence.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped the possibility of the death penalty, and Jake Wagner agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in cases against his parents and brother.

The rest of Jake Wagner’s family - George Wagner IV; his father, George “Billy” Wagner III, and his mother, Angela Wagner - continue to plead not guilty to multiple aggravated murder charges.

Special Prosecutor Angie Canepa has said Jake Wagner confessed and apologized for the crimes. He led investigators to the weapons and vehicles used in the killings.

Jake Wagner was the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims, Hanna Mae Rhoden, 19.

Authorities have said the motive of the slayings stemmed in part from a custody dispute over a young daughter that Jake Wagner fathered with one of the victims, Hanna Rhoden.

Jake Wagner was also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual contact with Hanna Mae Rhoden when she was 15 and he was 20 years old.

FULL SECTION | Pike County Massacre

All of the other three Wagners have pleaded not guilty and have been held at separate Ohio jails since their arrests more than two years ago, in November 2018.

Eight members of the Rhoden family were found dead the morning of April 22, 2016, in their Pike County homes.

Besides Hanna Mae Rhoden, the other victims were the family patriarch, Christopher Rhoden, 40; his older brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; his cousin, Gary Rhoden; his former wife, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and their other children: Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; and Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah Gilley.

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