I am ‘deeply and very sorry’convicted multiple killer told court on the 5th anniversary of the horrific night he and accomplished wiped out one family in rural Ohio
Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner pled guilty to 23 counts in southern Ohio’s Pike County in a deal with prosecutors that spares him from being sentenced to death
Wagner, 28, admitted that he personally shot and killed five members of his ex-girlfriend’s family in a trailer park slaying where eight died
He agreed to cooperate in the cases against his parents and brother, who are also charged in the Rhoden family slayings of seven adults and a teenage boy
Wagner admitte His parents George Billy Wagner III, and Angela Wagner and his brother George Billy Wagner IV have all pled not guilty
Prosecutors alleged the Wagner family planned the killings for months, motivated by a custody dispute between Hannah Rhoden, 19, and Edward Wagner
Sentencing was scheduled for a later date, but his Wagner’s attorney’s said he understands he faces a lifetime behind bars
An Ohio man Thursday pled guilty in the fatal shootings of 8 members of his ex-girlfriend’s family inside ther home in a rural community in Pike County, Ohio, back in 2016.
The suspect in the crime, Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner, pled guilty Thursday in the murders of his child’s mother and seven members of her family in 2016 – a grisly crime that spread terror across their rural Ohio community and stirred rumors of drug dealers and hit men before authorities concluded it stemmed from a custody dispute.
On the fifth anniversary of the grisly massacre of the Rhedon family, 28-year-old Wagner pled guilty to 23 counts in southern Ohio’s Pike County in a deal with prosecutors that spares him the death sentence.
Jake Wagner agreed to cooperate in the cases against his parents and brother, who are also charged in the Rhoden family slayings of seven adults and a teenage boy.
To the eight counts of aggravated murder, Wagner calmly responded ‘I am guilty, your honor,’ again and again, as Judge Randy Deering read each count aloud. The charges also include charges of conspiracy, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and other counts.
Wagner admitted he was personally responsible for five of the deaths, special prosecutor Angela Canepa said.
The defendant gave prosecutors a full account of events that morning, along with information that led to discovery of additional evidence.
The prime target apparently, was Hannah Rhoden, the 19-year-old mother of Jake Wagner’s toddler daughter. She was shot multiple times while sleeping with her baby.
Tendering his apologies in court Thursday, Wagner, 28 said he was ‘deeply and very sorry.’ Although sentencing is scheduled for a later date, his attorneys said he understands he faces spending the rest of his life behind bars.
‘He knows he’s going to die in prison without any judicial release. As horrifying as this is for all, he is as sorry as he could be,’ defense attorney Gregory Meyers told the judge.
The killings which happened in April 2016, at three trailers and a camper near Piketon, terrified residents in the surrounding rural community and prompted one of the most extensive criminal investigations in state history. It took authorities more than two years to announce the arrests.
The victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence ‘Frankie’ Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna, the mother of Jake Wagner’s child; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.
As part of his plea arrengment, Edward Wagner has agreed to cooperate in the cases against his parents and brother. George Billy Wagner III, Angela Wagner and their son George Billy Wagner IV have all pled not guilty.
Prosecutors alleged the Wagner family planned the killings for months, motivated by a custody dispute.
Jake Wagner began dating Hanna Rhoden when she was 13. She became pregnant when she was 15, Canepa said.
According to Canepa, Jake Wagner tried to convince Hanna Rhoden to agree to shared custody of their daughter and she refused.
Wagner was able to gain access to two Facebook accounts and found a post from Hanna saying she would never agree to those terms.
The family after the slayings were questioned by authorities at the U.S.-Canadian border, where a laptop was seized. Forged documents were found on the computer purporting that Hanna Rhoden had agreed to shared custody.
The Wagners took phones from six of the victims, as well as a recording device and trail cameras, Canepa said.
The Wagners used guns with two homemade silencers, allowing them to kill their victims as they slept, Canepa said. Parts from a failed effort to build a silencer were found on the Wagners’ property, she said.
Most of the victims were shot several times in the head, and some showed signs of bruising. Three young children at the scenes, including Jake Wagner´s child, were unharmed.
According to Canepa, shell casings found at the Wagners’ home matched those found at the murder scenes. Investigators also found a shoe of the same size and tread that matched a shoe print found a the scene.
A relative of the victims, Tony Rhoden Sr., has sued the suspects, saying he wanted to be sure none of them benefitted financially from the slayings.