WAVERLY, Ohio — On the fifth anniversary of the day that eight members of a household have been shot to demise in Pike County, Ohio, one suspect pleaded responsible to the murders, which included the mom of his baby.
Edward “Jake” Wagner, 28, appeared in court docket Thursday in entrance of the surviving members of the Rhoden, Gilley and Manley households, and admitted to seven counts of aggravated homicide as a decide learn by way of every particular person cost.
Then, holding again tears, Wagner admitted to the eighth homicide of Hanna Mea Rhoden, the mom of his younger daughter. By the tip of the day, Wagner had pleaded responsible to all 23 prices for what investigators mentioned was an elaborate and long-planned execution plot to eliminate anybody who may stand in the way in which of custody and management of his baby.
“I’m responsible, your honor,” Wagner mentioned.
In trade for the plea, prosecutors dropped the opportunity of the demise penalty, . The agreed-upon sentence, which will probably be handed down later, will probably be eight consecutive life phrases with out parole, plus greater than 100 years for the sentences on all different prices.
Wagner’s dad and mom, George “Billy” Wagner III and Angela Wagner, and older brother, George Wagner IV, face the identical prices, and Wagner agreed to cooperate with prosecutors within the instances towards them.
All have been arrested in a coordinated take-down in varied places in November 2018.
Because the household was taken into custody, investigators and prosecutors have painted an image of a clannish household, one so insular and constant to at least one one other they threatened each outsider who infiltrated the circle.
The opposite Wagners have all pleaded not responsible. Jake Wagner’s plea settlement, nevertheless, took the demise penalty off the desk for the remainder of his household as effectively if they’re convicted.
Particular Prosecutor Angela Canepa introduced that with info Wagner offered, investigators have been lastly capable of recuperate the weapons she mentioned have been used within the homicides, in addition to the autos that the household used to sneak onto the Rhoden properties, break into the properties and pull off what investigators have mentioned have been executions.
Wagner has confessed to personally killing 5 of the eight victims, Canepa mentioned.
What occurred to the Rhoden household?
Killed have been Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; her ex-husband, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; their daughter, Hanna Rhoden, 19; Frankie’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Kenneth Rhoden, 44, a brother to Chris Sr; and Gary Rhoden, 38, a cousin to Kenneth and Chris Sr.
Most have been shot a number of instances at shut vary whereas sleeping. Kenneth was shot simply as soon as, and proof on the dwelling confirmed that Chris Sr. and Gary have been awake when attacked.
A frantic member of the family referred to as with a report of the first slaying at 7:49 a.m. on April 22, 2016, and alerted authorities to what would quickly turn into one essentially the most long-lingering murder instances in Ohio historical past.
After the actual fact: Rhoden relations vie for custody of kid survivors of capturing
Rhoden household faces Wagner in court docket
Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk mentioned the households of the victims agreed to the plea settlement.
“This has been a very long time coming,” Junk mentioned. “They’re pleased to get some justice, particularly on this explicit day,” he mentioned..
The surviving members of the Rhoden household filed into the courtroom Thursday with their civil attorneys, Adam Newman and Brian Ok. Duncan, who’re dealing with the wrongful-death lawsuit the household has filed towards the Wagners.
Jake Wagner was on the heart of the case from the start as a result of he had a toddler with Hanna Rhoden, and prosecutors have mentioned the killings have been all about custody and management of youngsters. Hanna had additionally simply given beginning a couple of days earlier than the killings to a second daughter, and Jake Wagner additionally thought she could be his.
Wagner confronted extra prices than the remainder of his household, and is the one one of many 4 defendants who is represented by the state public defender’s workplace, attorneys William Mooney and Greg Meyers.
‘A once-in-a-century storm’:Specialists battle to explain how a child-custody dispute left 8 useless
Geneva Rhoden – the household matriarch whose losses on April 22, 2016, included two sons and several other grandchildren – has watched the previous few hearings on a livestream from downstairs. Thursday, with assist from her household, she made it slowly up the courthouse steps along with her oxygen tank and sat within the entrance row and hung her head as she cried.
She informed The Columbus Dispatch, a part of the USA TODAY Community, by way of tears: “I am hanging in there.”
Pike County bloodbath:Costs towards matriarch dismissed. ‘Belief within the Lord,’ she says.
Tony Rhoden, who grew to become the household’s public face after the killings, sat beside his mom, and stared at Wagner.
Junk mentioned it was no coincidence they have been in court docket for the responsible pleas on this anniversary.
“It has been a protracted 5 years for all of us,” he mentioned, “most significantly for the surviving relations you see on this court docket right now.”
Close to the tip of the listening to, given the prospect to say one thing, Wagner appeared on the packed courtroom of weeping relations staring again at him.
With a hitch in his voice, he mentioned solely this: “I’m deeply and really sorry.”
Observe Holly Zachariah on Twitter: @HollyZachariah