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Pike County massacre trial: Angela Wagner claims she didn't think son, husband would carry out murder plot

George Wagner IV — along with his mother Angela, father George, and brother Edward — is accused of shooting and killing the Rhoden family members 'execution-style'
George "Billy" Wagner III, Angela Jo Wagner, and Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner (L-R) (Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine)
George "Billy" Wagner III, Angela Jo Wagner, and Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner (L-R) (Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine)

PIKE COUNTY, OHIO: Angela Wagner, who along with her family is accused of murders of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families in April 2016, took the stand Tuesday, November 1, and admitted that she, along with her husband Billy Wagner and sons George Wagner IV and Jake Wagner, planned and prepared the murders. The victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden, 20-year-old Hannah "Hazel" Gilley, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr, 20-year-old Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 37-year-old Gary Rhoden, 19-year-old Hanna May Rhoden, and 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden.

Angela, who was arrested Nov 13, 2018, and charged with 14 counts of conspiracy, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, forgery, unauthorized use of property and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, told jurors she feared Jake's daughter would be molested with victim Hanna May Rhoden. She met Hanna when she was 13 and Jake was 17. The two dated and Hanna soon became pregnant with Sophia. Angela said she and Jake suspected the baby was being abused. She said, as quoted by Law&Crime, "I went to my husband for help. We had to protect Sophia," who was two years old at the time of the brutal murders. The family didn't take Sophia to a doctor, but Angela said she told Billy to watch for signs when he was at the Rhodens' home. "We didn't believe in the justice system. We didn't believe in children services," she said, according to WCPO.


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Narrating the murder plot, Angela said she spoke to both Jake and George. "I was asking, 'are you sure?' Nobody wanted to do it … but they had to keep Sophia safe," she said, reports WCPO. She told jurors that she bought shoes at Walmart for her sons to wear the night of the murders, while George and Jake waited outside the store. Jake told her to buy gym shoes that were too small for him and George. Billy told her to buy a signal jammer that would prevent people from calling 911 and a bug detector. “I got those things . . . it just went from there,” Angela testified.

However, Angela, who claimed she didn’t know specific details of the killings, was shocked when she learned that eight individuals have been killed. She was surprised and asked, “Why? Why so many?” “Because they were there,” Billy said. She told her in her testimony "I honestly did not think my husband would go through with it."