‘They are bad people’: Wiretap recordings played in court during Pike County massacre trial

‘They are bad people’: Wiretap recordings played in court during Pike County massacre trial
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 8:36 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 8:39 AM EDT
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WARNING - Trial coverage could contain graphic images or language

WAVERLY, Ohio (WXIX) - Testimony continued Monday as George Wagner IV’s murder trial for the 2016 Pike County massacre entered its sixth week.

The jury heard from the Wagners, not in person, but through wiretapped conversations on their cell phones and in their SUV as they were making their way back from Alaska and conversations they had once they got back to Ohio.

BCI agents put a listening device in the Wagners’ car while they were interrogating the family at the Montana border crossing station.

The family was making its way back to Ohio from a scouting trip to purchase property in Alaska in 2017, one year after the Pike County Massacre. George IV, his mother Angela Wagner, father Billy Wagner, and brother Jake Wagner, were indicted in the execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families.

On the way to Ohio, prosecutors say George IV is heard talking to his then 3-year-old son, Bulvine, about the child’s conversation with BCI agents.

Ohio BCI Criminal Analyst Julia Eveslage was asked whose voice that was heard in the recording.

She testified that was indeed George IV.

Eveslage says she was able to recognize all the Wagner’s voices, including the time that Jake Wagner talked to his mother Angela when he thought BCI agents were spying on him.

BCI agents searched the Wagner’s property in Peebles twice in May of 2017, and then again after they sold the property in June.

The family got a text from the new owner who said agents were once again on Peterson Road.

George IV is heard telling Billy that agents might go as far as to plant evidence.

The state says the Wagners carefully planned and carried out the murders to get custody of Jake Wagner’s 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, whose mother was one of the victims, Hanna Ray Rhoden, 19.

>> Pike County massacre: Complete trial coverage <<

The State says Angela’s mother, Rita Newcomb, admitted she told her daughter that she could notarize the custody documents.

Rita told Angela that BCI agents said there was a problem with Hanna’s signature, which prosecutors say Angela forged, apparently unbeknownst to her mother.

Wagner IV, 31, is the first member of his family to be tried.

His attorneys say he didn’t kill anybody and only learned of the murders after his brother got a phone call.

Angela Wagner and Jake Wagner have both pleaded guilty to their roles in the massacre. Jake Wagner admitted last year to killing five of the victims and shooting and wounding a sixth.

Both Angela and Jake are expected to testify against George Wagner IV later this month.

Billy Wagner continues to fight the charges and will be the next one to go on trial, likely next year.

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