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Pike County massacre: Whole Ohio family accused of murdering 8 people on a pot farm

Odette Odendaal
Nov 15, 2018
10:54 A.M.
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On November 13 the people believed to be responsible for the execution-style murder of a family of eight in Ohio got arrested.

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The massacre of the Rhoden family was spread across three mobile homes on Union Hill Road and another house a few miles away. Eight victims from the Rhoden family ranged in age from 16 - 44 was found shot to death. A 3-year-old, 6-month-old and 4-day old baby survived the slaughter.

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Three generations of a family got arrested by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office for the pre-meditated murder of 8 members of the Rhoden family.

Both parents, George ‘Billy’, 47 and Angela Wagner, 48, their two sons, Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner, 26, and George Wagner IV, 27, got accused premeditation and execution of 8 members of the Rhoden family on Aprill 22, 2016, in Piketon.

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Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.

Additionally, Fredericka Wagner, the 76-year-old mother of Billy and Angela’s 65-year-old mother, Rita Newcomb face charges of obstruction of justice and perjury, intentionally misleading investigators. Rita got an additional charge for forgery.

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By Tuesday afternoon the Wagner’s were indicted by a grand jury. They face over 80 criminal counts, which include eight counts each of aggravated murder, all of which carry the death penalty. Charles S. Reader, Pike County Sheriff, told reporters:

"They did this quickly, coldly, calmly and very carefully — but not carefully enough. They left traces; they left a trail — the parts to build a silencer, the forged documents, the cameras, cell phones, all that they tampered with. And the lies, all the lies they told us."

The victims were Hannah Gilley, 20, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Clarence ‘Frankie’ Rhoden, 20, Dana Rhoden, 37, Gary Rhoden, 38, Hanna Rhoden, 19, and Kenneth Rhoden.

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Hanna Rhoden and Jake Wagner was a couple for a long time and shared custody of their daughter, 5-year-old Sophia. She was not present during the time of the murders.

Officials allege that a custody battle played a part although they also found evidence of marijuana ‘grow operations,’ making drugs another avenue for motive. 

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According to the medical examiner’s report, all eight victims died of gunshot wounds and evidence of a struggle. Soft tissue damage showed bruising on some victims. With the assistance of over 20 law enforcement agencies, investigators are working hard at putting all the pieces together.

A similar massacre where an entire family got murdered happened in the southern states of Alabama in March 2009. 28-year-old Michael McLendon went over to his mother’s house in Kinston mid-afternoon where he fatally shot both his mother, Lisa White McLendon, and her four dogs. He then set fire to the house and left.

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Michael kills five people on his uncle’s porch in the nearby town of Samson almost an hour later, mostly family, except a deputy sheriff’s wife and child.

While heading east on Highway 52 after leaving his uncle’s house, Michael kills another two people while injuring two more as he fired into businesses and vehicles. 

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The police gave chase which ended up with an exchange of fire and Michael killing himself. He took the lives of 11 people that day. Even though he fatally shot random people the earlier shootings were all family related, much like the Pike County massacre.

Mass shootings have become more frequent with a shocking figure of 307 mass shootings in the United States of America this year alone. It translates into 307 mass shootings in 311 days. 

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Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that track shootings in the U.S. reported that the Thousand Oaks shooting was number 307. A Twitter user expressed frustration towards the government as he wrote:

" *Shooting happens * "Thoughts and Prayers" *Battle over gun control* *Arguing gets nowhere* *We move on* *Rinse and repeat*"

According to the Gun Violence Archive, over 12,000 people have died from gun-related violence in 2018 so far, with a further 24,000 injured due to the same cause. 

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