Pike County murder suspect, George “Billy” Wagner III, waived his right to extradition from Kentucky to Ohio during a court hearing in Lexington, Kentucky today.
Wagner appeared in court to be arraigned on aggravated murder charges in connection to the 2016 Pike County family massacre.
Wagner III, 47, along with his wife, 48-year-old Angela Wagner; and his sons George Wagner, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, were recently indicted by a grand jury, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Tuesday.
The Wagners could be sentenced to death if convicted, DeWine said.
Billy Wagner was the first of the four family members to appear in court.
Edward Wagner was the long-time former boyfriend of 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden, one of the eight victims, and shared custody of their daughter at the time of the massacre.
Edward Wagner was also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual contact with Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old, DeWine’s office said.
The Wagner family lived near the scenes of the killings about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Columbus.
The mothers of Angela Wagner and George Wagner also were arrested in Ohio and charged with misleading investigators.
Both Edward Wagner and Angela Wagner previously told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they were not involved in the killings.
Angela Wagner said in an email to the newspaper that what happened was devastating and Hanna Rhoden was like a daughter to her. Wagner also told The Enquirer that her husband, George, and Christopher Rhoden Sr. were more like brothers than friends.
John Clark, a lawyer who has been representing the Wagners, has said previously that four of the Wagner family members provided laptops, phones and DNA samples to investigators, and agreed to be interviewed about the slayings.
“We look forward to the day when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this terrible tragedy,” Clark said in a statement Tuesday.
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. Hanna Rhoden’s days-old baby girl, another baby and a young child were unharmed.