COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – George Wagner IV finished testimony in his own defense on Thursday for the Rhoden family massacre trial, answering questions from prosecutors.
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. George “Billy” Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV, and Edward “Jake” Wagner were accused of the murders.
However, on the stand, George IV told the court that he never took part in or had any knowledge of the Rhoden family killings. During Wednesday’s testimony, George IV said once Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents revealed his family’s actions to him, he decided to help investigators by spying on the other Wagners.
Watch George Wagner’s testimony and cross-examination, which stretched over six hours, below:
Much of the prosecutor’s follow-up interrogation of George IV focused on previous statements he made to BCI agents, when they stopped his family at the Montana border in 2017. According to the prosecutors, he told BCI that he went to bed at 12:30 a.m. on the night of the murders, after watching a movie with his family. However, George IV claimed in court that he went to bed around 10 p.m., which the state said was an entire hour before the Rhoden massacre.
“So, how could Jake and your father been up on the hill, killing Chris Sr. and Gary [Rhoden], less than an hour after you went into your bedroom?” the prosecutor asked.
“I can’t answer that, I don’t know,” George IV said.
On Nov. 3, Wagner matriarch Angela finished her testimony against her son in which she confessed to helping her family plan and cover up the killings of the Rhoden family in 2016. In exchange for her testimony, the state offered her a 30-year deal — avoiding the death penalty. Angela pleaded guilty in September 2021 to several charges but not to any of the murder charges she was facing.
Jake Wagner also pleaded guilty in 2021 and revealed shocking testimony in late October during his brother’s trial. During cross-examination, George IV’s defense attorney asked Jake whether George had argued against the idea of killing the Rhoden family, with Jake responding that he had. Jake also told the court that only he and Billy shot and killed the family, while George IV hesitated to pull the trigger.