Jake Wagner says he had no choice but to kill the child’s mother

Jake Wagner pleaded guilty last year to shooting all five victims, an attack which investigators believe resulted from a custody dispute between two families.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio — An Ohio man convicted of shooting five of eight family members killed in a 2016 massacre testified Monday that he had no choice but to kill the mother of her child.

Jacques Wagner pleaded guilty last year to shooting all five victimsan attack that investigators believe resulted from a custody dispute between two families.

As part of his plea deal, Jake Wagner had agreed to testify against his older brother, George Wagner IV, in exchange for being spared the death penalty.

George Wagner IV, whose trial entered its eighth week in Pike County Courtfaces the death penalty if convicted in the Rhoden family murders near Piton. George Wagner is the first person to stand trial for the murders.

Jake and George’s mother, Angela Wagner, also pleaded guilty to help plan the murders, and is expected to testify. Jake and George’s father, George “Billy” Wagner III, has pleaded not guilty. He probably won’t be tried until next year. The four members of the Wagner family were not arrested until more than two years after the murder.

Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa did not accuse George Wagner, 31, of shooting anyone in April 2016, but said he was involved in the planning, execution and cover-up of “one of the most heinous crimes in Ohio history”.

The two families had been close for years, but Canepa described the Wagners as obsessed with controlling the child Jake Wagner had with Hanna Rhoden.

The Wagner family had pressured Hanna Rhoden to give up custody of the 3-year-old, but Hanna vowed in a Facebook post four months before the massacre that “they’ll have to kill me first”, Canepa said.

Jake Wagner, who said he feared his daughter would be abused, testified on Monday that Hanna Rhoden’s comment was his “tipping point” when he decided that 19-year-old Hanna had to die.

George Wagner was with his brother and father when they went to three different locations where the eight victims were killed, went inside with the couple and helped his brother move two of the bodies, Canepa said. previously.

Jake Wagner testified Monday that it was the tipping point that led him to conclude he had to kill Hanna, who was 19 at the time of her death. He said the other intended victims were Hanna’s brothers, Frankie and Chris Rhoden, and their father, Chris Rhoden Sr. The other four victims were killed because they might have been witnesses, Jake Wagner testified.

Jake Wagner also testified that George Wagner was supposed to kill Chris Rhoden Sr. but didn’t shoot, so Jake Wagner shot Rhoden himself.

Defense attorney Richard Nash said George Wagner was not like the rest of his family and had nothing to do with the murders.

The Wagners spent three months planning the massacre, buying masks, ammunition and a device to jam phone signals, Canepa said. The two brothers even dyed their hair in the week leading up to the murders, she said.

Several discoveries, Canepa said, led investigators to the Wagners, including a casing found outside the Wagner home that matched that of a firearm that killed five of the victims.

Those killed were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their three children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Christopher Jr., 16, and Hanna; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38.

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