Woman testifies that her husband wanted 8 members of his family killed
WAVERLY, Ohio — A woman who helped plan the 2016 murder of eight members of another family, a crime that rocked rural southern Ohio and stymied investigators for more than two years, says the massacre was the idea of her husband.
Angela Wagner made the claim while testifying Tuesday at the murder trial of her 31-year-old son, George Wagner IV, who could face the death penalty if convicted. She was due to return to the helm on Wednesday.
The murders stemmed from a custody dispute involving another of Angela Wagner’s sons and one of the victims, authorities said.
Angela Wagner said her youngest son, Jake, wanted to kill her child’s mother, but her husband, George “Billy” Wagner III, opposed it because he believed the woman’s family would seek to get revenge.
“They’ll know, and then they’ll come get Jake.” They would shoot him, if not all of us, ”said Angela Wagner, her husband told her. He also said the rest of the woman’s family “must be murdered”, she testified.
Angela Wagner pleaded guilty in September 2021 to 14 counts and agreed to testify against her eldest son and her husband. In return, prosecutors dismissed eight counts of aggravated murder and agreed not to seek the death penalty.
Jake Wagner pleaded guilty in April 2021 to shooting five of the victims, saying he had no choice but to kill the mother of his then toddler daughter.
George Wagner IV – who is accused of helping plan the murders – is the first person to stand trial for the murders. Her father has pleaded not guilty and is unlikely to be tried until next year. Mark Collins, an attorney representing George “Billy” Wagner III, declined to comment on Wednesday citing the judge’s gag order in the case.
The four members of the Wagner family were not arrested until more than two years after the murder.
Those killed were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their three children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Christopher Jr., 16, and Hanna Rhoden, 19, mother of Jake Wagner’s daughter; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.