PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — George Wagner IV, one of four family members accused of killing eight members of the Rhoden family in Pike County, appeared in court Wednesday.
The appearance comes nearly a week after Wagner’s brother, Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner, pleaded guilty to all charges against him.
George Wagner IV has previously pleaded not guilty to 22 charges, including eight counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications.
Wednesday’s court appearance was scheduled as a motion hearing. However, one of Wagner’s defense attorneys said they needed to “step back and reassess” the case, presumably in light on Jake Wagner’s guilty plea.
George Wagner IV is scheduled to appear in court next on June 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Along with George Wagner IV, those facing charges are: Angela Wagner, George “Billy” Wagner III, and Jake Wagner.
The shootings took place the night of April 21 and the morning of April 22, 2016. Eight members of the Rhoden family were shot and killed in four Pike County homes.
Christopher Rhoden Sr., Dana Rhoden, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden Jr., Hanna Rhoden, Hannah Gilley, Gary Rhoden and Kenneth Rhoden were all found dead the morning of April 22, 2016. The Pike County Sheriff’s Office said three young children, including a baby, were discovered unharmed.
Redacted autopsy reports show most victims were shot multiple times.
Then-Attorney General Mike DeWine described the killings as a ‘pre-planned execution’ and a ‘sophisticated operation.’
All four originally entered not guilty pleas. Prosecutors said they would seek death penalties.
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 and knew where family members slept.
After the court hearing, current Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement that read in part, “Today’s hearing finally brings some degree of closure to the surviving family members, and I pray that they might find peace in the face of this horror.”
Governor Mike DeWine publicly thanked the Rhoden family in a press conference outside the courthouse. “It’s not easy when investigators can’t tell you anything, and they just have to trust you. So they hung in there this entire time with us.
“I’m very very grateful and I wanted to come here and tell [the Rhoden family] thank you. I wanted to tell them that justice was done. This was justice. I never lost faith in this case. I never thought that we were not going to solve it.
“It chills you to think about the calculation that goes into something like this.
“This family has been through hell. While today, I’m sure was a gratifying day it wasn’t an easy day. They have to be leaving here totally exhausted, emotionally spent. But these are strong people. These are tough people. They will continue to go forward,” the governor told reporters.