Grandmothers accused in Pike County family murders cover-up plead not guilty

State News
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Two grandmothers accused of helping to cover-up the Rhoden family massacre pleaded not guilty in Pike County court today.

Rita Jo Newcomb and Fredericka Carol Wagner are facing charges of obstructing justice and perjury. Newcomb is also charged with forgery.

A judge set Wagner’s bond at $100,000 and Newcomb’s bond at $50,000, both with a 10 percent option. Both women were placed under house arrest at their own homes and were ordered not to have any contact with members of the victims’ family.

Newcomb is the mother of Angela Wagner and Fredericka Wagner is the mother of George “Billy” Wagner III.

Both are the grandmothers of George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner.

Four people were arrested on Tuesday for the murders of eight people in Pike County on April 22, 2016.

George “Billy” Wagner III, 47
Angela Wagner, 48
George Wagner IV, 27 
Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26

The suspects are facing eight counts each of aggravated murder, with death penalty specifications, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Pike County Sheriff Charles S. Reader, and Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk.

They are also charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, unauthorized use of property, obstruction, unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance and forgery.

DeWine said the four spent months planning the killings, studying the habits and routines of the Rhoden family. The Wagners knew the layouts of the homes, knew where the family slept, and were meticulous in the planning, DeWine said.

The victims include 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr., 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden and 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; their cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden, and 20-year-old Hannah Gilley.

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