A man was found guilty of murder Wednesday in the massacre of a Pike County, Ohio, family that prosecutors said he helped plan and cover up with his brother and parents.
George Wagner IV, along with his brother, Edward "Jake" Wagner, and parents Angela Wagner and George "Billy" Wagner III, was first arrested and indicted in 2018 in connection with the 2016 massacre in Pike County of the Rhoden family. The victims were found dead in three mobile homes and a camper, shot in the head "execution-style" while some were still in their beds. Three babies, including a 4-day-old infant, were present during the rampage but left unharmed.
On Wednesday, a jury took less than eight hours to convict the 31-year-old on eight counts of aggravated murder and all of the other charges he faced, including conspiracy, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity in relation to the 2016 killings, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors allege that George and his family plotted to kill the Rhoden family over a custody argument between his younger brother and one of the victims: Hanna Rhoden, who had a daughter with Jake Wagner.
In addition to Hanna Rhoden, the victims were her parents, Christopher Rhoden Sr. and Dana Manley Rhoden, her uncle Kenneth Rhoden, her siblings, Christopher Rhoden Jr. and Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, Frankie's fiancé Hannah Gilley, and a cousin, Gary Rhoden.
Both Wagner brothers, George and Jake, as well as their parents, Angela and Billy, were charged in the killings.
George was the first of his family to go on trial for the massacre.
Prior to his brother's conviction on Wednesday, Jake had pleaded guilty in 2021 to shooting five of the victims, including the 19-year-old mother of his child, and agreed to testify against George and their parents in a deal to help the family potentially avoid death sentences. (Last week, the judge agreed to remove the possibility of the death penalty for George.)
Jake also implicated his and George's father, Billy, in the other three murders.
Their mother, Angela, also pleaded guilty in 2021 to helping to plan the murders and said that it was her husband, Billy, who came up with the idea to kill the whole Rhoden family.
In George's trial, Angela testified that Jake had wanted to kill his child's mother, Hanna, and that in order to avoid a revenge attack, Billy said that the rest of Hanna's family had to be murdered.
Billy Wagner has pleaded not guilty and will face trial next year.
The prosecution argued that George accompanied his brother and father when they drove to the locations of the murders, went inside with them, and helped Jake move two bodies.
During the trial, George testified that he didn't know anything about his family's involvement in the murders, even though his mother and brother had already testified that he was involved.
A prosecutor told the jurors that not only did George know what was going to happen, but that he also participated in the plans to murder the family. According to prosecutors, the Wagner family had planned the killings for months.
When the Wagners were arrested, Mike DeWine, then the attorney general of Ohio and no governor of the state, said that the families had studied the Rhoden family's routines and knew the layout of their homes.
George was not accused of shooting anyone, and prosecutors said that though he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger, he was "complicit" because he "knew what was going to happen" and knew "what they were going to do," and thus he "aided and abetted them," WKBN reported.
His sentencing hearing is expected sometime during the last two weeks of December.
Both Jake and Angela Wagner have yet to be sentenced following their guilty pleas.