Pike County Sheriff's Deputies
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Arrests Made In Connection To 2016 Pike County Murders

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UPDATE: 4:58 p.m.

On Monday, a Pike County grand jury indicted George “Billy” Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner, on murder charges with death penalty specifications, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

George “Billy” Wagner III, 47; Angela Wagner, 48; George Wagner IV, 27; Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, are all in custody and awaiting initial appearances in Pike County Common Pleas Court, DeWine said in a press conference with Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Prosecuting Attorney Robert Junk.

“The evidence will show they conspired to kill these 8 people, 8 of their friends,” DeWine said.

In addition to aggravated murder charges for each of the four arrested, other charges include conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, obstruction of justice and forgery of child custody documents.

Child custody was mentioned as a big part of the case by DeWine, Reader, and Junk. Jake Wagner was the father of a child with Hanna Rhoden, according to officials.

“We won’t be able to say much about motive,” DeWine said. “But custody of that young child plays a role in this case.”

The great-grandmothers of the child, Rita Newcomb and Fredericka Wagner, were both arrested as well, on allegations of misleading authorities during the investigation.

The Wagners had been the prime suspects in the case for “some time,” according to DeWine.

DeWine and Reader said the suspects planned the alleged crimes for months by studying the victims’ habits, routines and the layout of their homes, including where they slept.

“They left traces, they left a trail, the parts to build a silencer, the forged documents, the cameras, the cell phones, all that they tampered with, and the lies, all the lies they told us,” Reader said.

The two-and-a-half year investigation was the most complex in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s history. DeWine said investigators received 1,100 tips from the public, conducted 550 interviews and issued more than 200 subpoenas and court orders, while testing more than 700 pieces of evidence.

“What solved this case was just hard, tough police work, day after day after day after day,” DeWine said.

Junk said the process of concluding the cases will likely take several years.

DeWine said there is no evidence that anyone else is involved.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that four people have been arrested in connection to the 2016 slayings of eight people in Pike County.

The following four members of the Wagner family, of South Webster, were taken into custody Tuesday and charged with planning and carrying out the murders:

George “Billy” Wagner III, 47

Angela Wagner, 48

George Wagner IV,27

Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26

The arrests come two years after the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Pike County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the “execution-style” killings of seven members of the Rhoden family and a the fiance of one of the victims on April 22, 2016.

This story is developing. The Attorney General’s Office said it would have more details at a press conference to be held at 4 p.m. in Waverly, Ohio.