Mother charged in connection with Rhoden massacre pleads guilty

Local News

Bookmark our Rhoden family shootings: Murder trials for Wagner family members page for live coverage from all Wagner family court appearances. Edward "Jake" Wagner is scheduled for a hearing on February 10. George Wagner III is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on February 11, 2020.

WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) — The mother of one and grandmother to two other suspects in the massacre of eight family members in 2016 has agreed to a plea deal.

Rita Newcomb pled guilty to obstructing justice, a misdemeanor, in connection with the case.

Charges of forgery and perjury were dropped.

Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner, who is charged with aggravated murder as are Wagner’s husband, George “Billy” Wagner III, and their two adult sons. All have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors did not offer specifics but have said the forgery charge involves child-custody documents.

Before the judge overseeing the cases ordered the lawyers and authorities involved from publicly discussing the details, authorities said that a custody dispute between the Rhoden and Wagner families may have been the motive.

One of the suspects, Edward “Jake” Wagner, was the longtime former boyfriend of 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims, and shared custody of their daughter.

Newcomb has been out on bail for the past year.

The shooting deaths of the seven adults and a teenage boy in April 2016 terrified residents in southern Ohio and led to one of the most extensive criminal investigations in state history. Prosecutors say the Wanger family spent months planning the killings.

Newcomb’s trial was initially scheduled to begin last month, but was delayed until Monday.

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