Authorities: Custody dispute played role in family's slaying


Authorities: Custody dispute played role in family's slaying

But on Tuesday the Wagner family - father Billy, mother Angela and sons Jack and George - were arrested on charges that they killed eight people on one day in April 2016 in a small town in southern Ohio.

Anyone with additional information related to the murders should call BCI at 1-855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or the Pike County Sheriff's Office at 740-947-2111.

Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the arrests Tuesday of four members of a family who lived near the scene of the killings.

The victims were identified as 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna; Clarence Rhoden's fiancée, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.'s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.

The announcement marked the culmination of a massive investigative effort that began after seven adults and a teenage boy were found shot in the head at four separate homes in April 2016.

"We can't talk about any evidence or details in these cases", Junk said, asking for those in the gallery to remember the victims at this time.

Three children, an infant, a five-year-old and a three-year-old, were found unharmed.

Jake Wagner was a long-time former boyfriend of Hanna Rhoden, one of the eight victims, and shared custody of their daughter at the time of the massacre. The daughter was not present during the attacks.

"There certainly was obsession with custody".

"This is just the most freakish story I've ever seen in being involved in law enforcement".

DeWine and Reader said Tuesday that the Wagners studied the layouts of the victims' properties, as well as their habits, routines, sleeping locations and pets. The Wagners were also charged with other offenses, including conspiracy, evidence tampering, obstruction of justice and aggravated burglary.

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As for the custody angle, NBC News reports Sophia was with Jake Wagner when the murders happened and was supposed to go back to her mom the next day.

DeWine says he can't release many details about the motive but he did say the custody of young child played a role. "But not carefully enough".

Officials Tuesday noted that the families of the victims are still coping with the deaths of their loved ones, and that the suspects' alleged actions left a stain on the county.

The Wagner family was charged with planning and carrying out the killings after federal investigators had been observing them since the summer of 2017, Ohio's WLWT reported.

Authorities arrested the suspects this afternoon, without incident. Angela Wagner was arrested at her home in Scioto County, Ohio while their sons were arrested during a traffic stop in Ross County, Ohio. "They had thought about it, a lot" he said.

Investigators scrambling to determine who targeted the Rhoden family and why had conducted over 130 interviews and processed over 100 pieces of evidence and 550 tips, while getting assistance from more than 20 law enforcement agencies. Not only was it the largest in Pike County, but DeWine said in earlier comments this was the first time eight members of the same family were murdered in Ohio. They were reportedly close friends with the Rhodens, and lived near the scenes of the killings.

The Kenai Police Department and Alaska State Troopers both said they were not involved in the investigation and arrests.

Rita Newcomb, 65 of South Webster, Ohio, Angela Wagner's mother, and Fredericka Wagner, 76, of Lucasville, Ohio, Billy Wagner's mother, are also facing felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury for allegedly misleading investigators.

"We look forward to the day when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this awful tragedy", Clark said in a statement.

Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said that all defendants are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and that the process will take a long time.

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