In an Ohio courtroom, a diabolical tale of murder and mayhem has unfolded as a mother described how her family allegedly plotted and carried out the massacre of another.
Angela Walker has been taking the witness stand for three consecutive days, explaining in detail how her husband, her sons, and she plotted to kill eight Rhoden family members six years ago. It was in a small rural enclave of the Appalachian state.
What is the alleged reason? According to prosecutors, the reason was a custody battle for a shared grandchild and allegations of sexual abuse against the toddler.
Authorities claim that this case is the most complicated and expensive murder investigation in Ohio’s recent history. According to U.S. Census figures, nearly 20% of Pike County’s residents are in poverty and the state lawmakers have set aside $1 million for the trial.
Walker gave her testimony in exchange for eight counts of aggravated killing against her. The prosecutors also agreed not to seek death penalty. Wagner pleaded guilty in September 2021 to 14 other counts and said she would testify against her older son, George Wagner IV, and later against her husband, George “Billy”Wagner III. Prosecutors said she will serve 30 years in prison as part of the plea agreement.
George Wagner IV, 31, is currently on trial for eight counts of murder and a slew of other charges alleging he was part of his family’s criminal enterprise in the plotting, execution and covering up the shooting deaths of Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Sr., 40; Chris Rhoden’s former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their children, Clarence “Frankie”Rhoden 20 Hanna May Rhoden 19, and Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Jr., 16; Frankie’s fiancée, Hannah Hazel Gilley, 20; Christopher Sr.’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and their cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.
Initial statements by the Wagners denied any involvement in the murders. In 2018, four of their relatives were arrested and a gag was issued. Until last year, few details were available until the youngest defendant began talking.
Edward “Jake” Wagner, 29 — who is the father of the child at the center of the custody dispute — accepted a plea deal in April 2021. In exchange for avoiding a death sentence, Wagner agreed to testify in the case against his family members. A judge heard him tell that he had killed five of eight victims, including his child’s mother. Prosecutors stated that he will be sentenced for eight consecutive life terms with no possibility of parole.
Jake Wagner testified against brother last month. He said that his father had planned to kill the Rhodens and that he did it in order to regain custody.
George Wagner III and George Wagner V, father and son, pleaded not guilty. Their trials are not expected until next year, authorities stated. They are both charged with eight counts each of aggravated killing, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit aggred murder. Defense attorneys claim that they denied shooting anyone.
The “execution-style murders”Authorities said that the incident occurred in April 2016 at four homes in Pike County. Some victims were asleep when they were shot in the head, while others were killed. “sniper”Investigators say that attacks were made from a truck.
Hanna May Rhoden, Jake Wagner, were the parents of child at the centre of custody dispute. They had first met when she was thirteen and Jake was 18. Hanna fell pregnant with her son when she was just 15. Hanna became pregnant with his child when she was 15.
According to her relatives, Hanna claimed she was physically abused by Jake and the couple split in 2015. Authorities said that the two were involved in a dispute over custody. Jake claimed that their daughter was being sexually assaulted while she was in her mother’s care.
Two children were found in one of the houses during the massacre. Kylie, a days-old girl, was found in another home. She was still nursing at Hanna May Rhoden’s breasts. The children were not injured. Jake Wagner calmly stated last month that he had shot his ex-girlfriend twice in her head that night.
Prosecutors said Jake had told investigators he had rearranged Hannah’s bloody body so the newborn could continue to nurse.
Jake’s mom, Jake, described this week how she plotted the killings with her family. Jake claimed that it was to protect her two-year-old granddaughter from molestation.
“Nobody’s heart was in it,”She spoke on the stand. “Nobody wanted to do it.”
Angela Wagner was not present at the shootings but admitted on the stand that they were planned and she purchased shoes for the shoot.
She regretted that her sons were involved in the murder plot.