Pike County Trial: Ski masks, brass catcher, bug detector found in Wagner trucks, trailers

Pike County Trial: Ski masks, brass catcher, bug detector found in Wagner trucks, trailers
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 9:03 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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WAVERLY, Ohio (WXIX) - Three ski masks, a bug detector and a brass catcher to collect fired shell casings.

These are among the dozens of items agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found stored in vehicles by the Wagner family before they moved from Pike County to Alaska in the spring of 2017.

The family moved back in the spring of 2018. They were arrested several months later on multi-count indictments accusing them of planning and carrying out Ohio’s biggest and most expensive homicide case to date

Pike County massacre: Complete trial coverage

Friday was the final day of the fourth week of George Wagner IV’s murder trial in the May 2016 execution-style shooting deaths of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

There will be no court Monday due to the Columbus Day holiday.

BCI agents testified last month and again Thursday about hundreds of shell casings they found at the Wagner family’s farm on Peterson Road in Peebles, Adams County.

On Friday, BCI Special Agent Todd Fortner returned and ripped open tightly sealed envelopes and packages to show the jury more evidence seized from another Peebles property linked to the Wagners, on State Route 41.

Besides the brass catcher, bug detector and three ski masks, they also found a Glock gun case, Glock magazine loader and replacement grips; drum magazine, rifle bullet, trail cameras, GPS devices, and multiple cell phones including some with broken covers; a lock pick set used to pick locks, Walmart receipt for an electronic camera kit that cost $299, Kodak camera and newspapers about the killings.

Wagner IV, who turned 31 Thursday, is the first of his four family members to stand trial.

He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of aggravated murder and other charges.

The family’s indictments say Wagner IV, his father, George “Billy Wagner III, his mother, Angela Wagner and his younger brother, Jake Wagner, watched their victims for months before shooting them in the head, most several times while they slept.

Prosecutors say the motive was to gain “custody and control” of the 2-year-old daughter of Jake Wagner, and one of the victims, 19-year-old Hanna May Rhoden.

The other victims are her father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; two of her uncles, Kenneth Rhoden, 44 and Gary Rhoden, 38; her mother, Dana Lynn Rhoden, 37, and both of her brothers: Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16 and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, as well as Frankie’s fiancé, Hannah “Hazel” Gilley, 20.

Exhibit from prosecution during opening statements in the trial of George IV.
Exhibit from prosecution during opening statements in the trial of George IV.(Liz Duf | Cincinnati Enquirer)

Two of the Wagners, Jake and his mother, Angela, pleaded guilty to their roles in the killings last year.

Both are scheduled to testify soon for the prosecution against George Wagner IV.

Jake’s ex-wife, Beth, also will take the stand at some point.

The Wagner family patriarch, Billy Wagner, 50, is continuing to fight the charges like his eldest son.

Billy Wagner remains locked up at the Butler County Jail.

Officials with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office said his “behavior has been good” and he is not being held in any special custody or security.

He does not have any jobs at the facility and could presumably be keeping up on the latest TV reports of his son’s trial.

“Mr. Wagner is able to watch television,” Lt. Joe Fuller confirmed when we asked this week. “Inmates do not have access to computers or the internet.”

Billy Wagner is not testifying in this trial.

His son also is not expected to take the stand.

The other Wagners, Angela and Jake, are not permitted to watch television during the trial, FOX19 NOW has confirmed.