WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) — Jurors in the murder trial of George Wagner IV listened to unreleased audio evidence in court Thursday of Wagner’s mother being questioned by investigators a year after the Rhoden family killings.
The jury heard two hours of audio of Wagner IV’s mother, Angela Wagner, in an interview with Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents from 2017. In the interview recordings presented in court, Angela Wagner denied her family’s capability to commit the crimes.
“My son wouldn’t do that, he had nothing against them,” said Angela Wagner in the recording. “And even though him and Hanna broke up, it wasn’t enough for that.”
Eight members of the Rhoden family were found dead in Pike County on April 22, 2016. Prosecutors claimed the murders stemmed from a custody dispute over the daughter of Jake Wagner and Hanna May Rhoden, one of the victims.
The other victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr., Dana Rhoden, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden Jr., Hannah Gilley, Gary Rhoden and Kenneth Rhoden.
In September 2021, Angela Wagner pled guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence. She did not plead guilty to the eight murder charges against her.
In the interview recordings, Angela Wagner’s denials continued as investigators produced evidence of boot prints at the scene that matched ones she purchased for her family weeks before the killings.
“We know it came from those particular shoes that you bought, less than two and a half weeks prior to the murders,” said Jennifer Comisford, a BCI special agent, heard on the recording.
“I do not think it could be those,” responded Angela Wagner.
The investigators later questioned Angela Wagner on the shell casings they found outside her family’s driveway that matched ones at the crime scenes.
“The shell casings in your driveway, the 22 shell casings were fired from the same gun, that killed,” said Rick Ward, a BCI special agent, heard on the recording.
“There’s no way,” said Angela Wagner, repeatedly.
By the end of the interview, Angela Wagner refused to answer questions and asked for a lawyer.
“Angela, you’re not being 100% with me,” said Ward. “I can tell by the way you’re talking with me.”
“OK, then I’m just going to stop, I’m going to stop,” said Wagner.
Wagner IV is one of four family members accused of the murders. His defense attorneys have maintained their client’s innocence, arguing that he had no knowledge of his family’s motives or actions.
In April 2021, Wagner IV’s younger brother Jake pled guilty to the murders, avoiding the death penalty. Angela and Jake Wagner are expected to testify against him. The patriarch of the family. George “Billy” Wagner III, still awaits trial.