WAVERLY, Ohio (WCMH) — The prosecution and defense rested their cases Friday in the murder trial of George Wagner IV.
After hearing two days of testimony from Wagner IV, the jury was instructed to return for closing arguments Nov. 28 — the Monday after Thanksgiving. The week-long reprieve comes after 11 weeks of a trial centered on Wagner IV’s involvement in the murders of the Rhoden family.
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.
George “Billy” Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV, and Edward “Jake” Wagner were accused of murder for the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family. Jake and Angela Wagner both pled guilty to crimes associated with the killings, and Angela offered her testimony against her son to spare her from the death penalty.
Although both Jake and Angela Wagner implicated Wagner IV in the planning, execution and attempted coverup of the crimes, on the stand, Wagner IV denied any knowledge of or involvement in the killings.
Instead, Wagner IV claimed agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation revealed his family’s actions to him, and he spied on his family members to aid investigators.
Angela pled guilty in September 2021 to 14 charges, not including murder, and faces 30 years in prison. Jake also pled guilty in 2021 to murder. Under cross-examination in Wagner IV’s trial, Jake told jurors that his brother George argued against killing the Rhodens and hesitated to pull the trigger. The Wagner patriarch, Billy, awaits trial.