OH v. George Wagner IV: Ohio Family Massacre Trial

Posted at 11:12 PM, August 26, 2022 and last updated 3:37 PM, July 24, 2023

By Emanuella Grinberg

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (Court TV) — The 12-person jury tasked with deciding George Wagner IV’s fate in Pike County, Ohio, decided that the defendant did, in fact, help his family plan and carry out the shooting deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family. Wagner was found guilty of all counts against him.


Wagner is the first person from his family to stand trial on murder and conspiracy charges for the April 2016 nighttime massacre in four different locations. His mother and brother, Angela and Jake Wagner, pleaded guilty in 2021 and agreed to testify against him. His father, Billy Wagner, is awaiting trial.

George Wagner denies that he helped plan or participate in the murders, which led to the biggest investigation in the state’s history.

Prosecutors say it all stemmed from a custody dispute over Jake Wagner’s two-year-old daughter with his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden. Jake Wagner testified he feared that Hanna Rhoden was putting their daughter at risk of being abused so his father, Billy Wagner, suggested killing Hanna and her family so no one would be left to seek revenge against the Wagners.

George Wagner IV trial continues in Pike County

George Wagner IV, right, talks with his attorney,
John P. Parker, after a break during his trial, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022 in Pike County Common Pleas Court in Waverly, Ohio. Eight members of the Rhoden family were found shot to death at four different locations on April 21-22, 2016. (Liz Dufour/Cincinnati Enquirer/POOL)

Hanna Rhoden was shot to death in her bed with another child in her arms, her newborn daughter. The infant’s life was spared, but Hanna’s mother, Dana Rhoden, and her younger brother, Chris, were killed in the same home as Hanna. Hanna’s father, Chris Rhoden, and his cousin, Gary Rhoden, were killed in another home. Hanna’s older brother, Frankie, and his fiancée, Hannah Gilley, were killed in their home while their daughter’s life was spared. Hanna’s uncle, Kenneth Rhoden, was killed in his camper. Jake and Hanna’s daughter was staying with the Wagners the night of the murders.

It took investigators more than two years to build a case against the Wagners. Prosecutors claim wiretapped conversations and financial records implicate the entire Wagner family and show that they operated as a unit in all matters, including the murder plot. George Wagner maintains his innocence.



DAY 51 – 11/30/22

  • The 9-women, 3-men jury deliberated for about 7.5 hours before reaching guilty verdicts on 22 counts.
  • George Wagner bowed his head and closed his eyes but otherwise showed no visible signs of emotion as the verdicts were read.
  • Members of the Manley, Rhoden and Gilley families quietly sobbed and clutched each other as the verdicts were read.
  • Jurors and the defense lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
  • Less than three hours into deliberations, the jury asked to see a transcript of Jake Wagner’s testimony. After Judge Deering outlined the state’s concerns over how parts of the transcript could be taken out of context, the foreperson told the judge, “We’re OK without it.”
  • Tony Rhoden, the brother of victims Chris Rhoden Sr. and Gary Rhoden, told reporters he “felt sorry” for George Wagner because “he is human… [he] just didn’t show it that night.”
    • Tony Rhoden said the verdicts brought the family “a little bit of peace, but we still have a long road to go,” referring to the impending trial of the defendant’s father, Billy Wagner.
  • Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk teared up as he thanked the family for trusting his team.
    • “Good won today and evil lost,” Junk said. “They heard the voices of our eight victims today. They jury listened. They understood.”
  • Special prosecutors Angela Canepa and Andy Wilson also grew emotional as they described the bonds they formed with the victims’ families and the Pike County community over the course of the case.
  • Governor Mike DeWine, who oversaw the early days of the investigation as attorney general, commended prosecutors and law enforcement and addressed the families in a televised statement.
    • “Today the Rhoden and Gilley families can take some comfort in knowing that George Wagner has been convicted and that he will be punished, as will his brother Jacob and his mother Angela,” DeWine said.
    • DeWine commended state investigators for combining “old-fashioned … gut-wrenching police work” with modern technology to solve the case. “There’s never been a more complicated and lengthy BCI investigation,” he said.

DAY 50 – 11/29/22

  • Defense lawyer John Parker spent about 90 on his closing argument.
    • Parker accused the state of overreaching in prosecuting George Wagner IV and argued the testimony of Jake and Angela Wagner is unreliable because it cannot be independently verified.
  • Special prosecutor Andrew Wilson spent about one hour and 40 minutes on the state’s rebuttal argument.
    • Wilson said it didn’t matter if George didn’t directly participate in the murders because under the legal theory of complicity he’s just as guilty as the gunmen. They were all fixated on raising Jake’s daughter “100% Wagner” and would stop at nothing in their quest for “power and control.”
  • The jury heard nearly four hours of jury instructions, which included an accomplice instruction directing the jury to regard Jake and Angela Wagner’s testimony with “grave suspicion.”
  • The jury will return Wednesday to start deliberating 22 counts against George Wagner IV. They will go straight into the jury room. The jury can deliberate as late as they want. The five alternates will also return to the courthouse and remain on standby.

DAY 49 – 11/28/22

Special prosecutor Angela Canepa delivered the State’s closing remarks, which lasted for the duration of the day, about 4.5 hours. After the state’s first closing argument concluded around 3p, the court decided to adjourn for the night instead of breaking up the defense closing.

  • Argument starts with Canepa going through each victim and describing the so-called motives/reasons for killing each person to make the point they were all “senseless” and didn’t have to happen.
  • Canepa devoted significant time to making the case that the Wagner sons’ intimate partner relationships show that everything in the Wagner family was a group decision. She called the relationships “a family affair” that took on destructive patterns when the Wagners couldn’t control or manipulate the women in their lives. They accused them of child abuse and ultimately leading to the murder plot.
  • Canepa said recordings show that George and Angela were “leading the charge” on the unsubstantiated child abuse accusations against Beth Ann Canepa suggested George was just as involved when it came to discussions of their concerns with Hanna Rhoden.
  • When evaluating whether George was involved in the murder plot, Canepa urged the jury to ask themselves if the George they heard “losing his mind” over Beth on the recordings seemed like the kind of person “who would ever sit one out and not be involved.”
  • Canepa said George “told investigators things they didn’t know.” The victims’ families agreed to the plea so they could find out what happened. Investigators were able to corroborate Jake’s account with direct and circumstantial evidence.
  • She went on to say, “He didn’t do this plea to get his family in trouble. It’s the opposite. He’s trying to get them out of trouble.
  • Canepa says the biggest and most important lie was about the gun show. She says George’s memory is so good that he remembers going to the show with his dad just to buy the gun for his dad. But for the life of him he cannot remember Jake being there buying the gun that was used to kill 5 of the 8 victims.


DAY 48 – 11/22/22

  • Judge Randy Deering dismissed the death specifications for counts 1-8 (aggravated murder), which means George Wagner no longer faces the death penalty for the 2016 shooting spree that killed Hanna Rhoden and seven members of her family.
  • “I want to make it clear: This is not a merit-based decision, this is strictly procedural based on the defense’s request and our agreement with Mr. [Jake] Wagner,” prosecutor Angela Canepa said, referring to the state’s agreement with Jake Wagner to take death off the table for George if Jake “appeared” to testify truthfully and to the state’s satisfaction.
  • Canepa said the state believes there is enough evidence to prove the specification, pointing to the court’s denial of the defense’s motions for judgements of acquittal with the death specs.
  • The defense moved to dismiss the death specifications at the conclusion of Jake Wagner’s testimony and renewed the request today while discussing jury instructions and the verdict form.
  • While discussing the charges that will be read to the jury, the defense lodged a standing objection to the state’s “course of conduct” theory used to connect all 22 charges, which span different counties and timeframes.
  • Another major point of contention was the definition of conspiracy.
  • Among the special jury instructions requested by the defense:
    • Implicit bias — Owing to his association with the Wagner family — DENIED
    • Defendant’s reputation in the community — DENIED
    • Testimony of an informer — DENIED
    • Modus operandi — DENIED
    • Circumstantial evidence — TBD
    • Aiding and abetting — TBD
    • “Juries are permitted to acquit out of compassion or compromise…” — DENIED
    • “Renunciation and abandonment” with respect to George’s alleged disavowal of the plot, per Jake’s testimony. — TBD

DAY 47 – 11/21/22

  • Judge Randy Deering denied George Wagner IV’s motions for judgements of acquittals on all 22 counts.
  • The motions were argued as if the death specifications still applied, a reminder of the unusual circumstances of Jake Wagner’s plea deal, in which prosecutors may drop the death penalty for George if they’re satisfied with Jake’s testimony against him.
  • George’s defense argued there was insufficient evidence of his presence at the crime scenes or his complicity in the conspiracy, part of which meant sharing Jake Wagner’s intent to kill the Rhodens.
  • The defense leaned heavily into Jake Wagner’s testimony that George didn’t want to kill the Rhodens and only went along to protect Jake from their father, Billy Wagner.
  • The state leaned heavily into the complicity statute to argue there’s sufficient evidence of George’s guilt, even though Jake is the only person (or piece of evidence) to place George at the scene.
  • Prosecutor Angela Canepa: “This argument that he was just there to protect his brother … you don’t get to protect someone who’s killing 8 people, that’s being complicit.”
  • Concerning counts 6-9(aggravated murder of Hanna, Dana and Chris Junior Rhoden): Wagner’s defense argued the counts should be dismissed due to venue because they occurred in Scioto County. The issue was the subject of a pretrial motion and overruled based on the state’s argument that the killings were part of a continued course of conduct that began in Pike County. The reasoning was extended to other counts indirectly tied to the night of the murders (see below) that took place in other counties (Adams, Scioto).
  • The hearing was a good reminder of all the other charges Wagner faces apart from aggravated murder and aggravated burglary:
    • Possession of a dangerous ordnance: Illegal silencer that Jake made.
    • Tampering with evidence: Jake’s burning of shell casings and cell phones. George allegedly helped dig the hole used to temporarily hold the items before they were burned.
    • Tampering with evidenceforgery: George’s backdating and signing of an (unofficial, handwritten) custody document for his son. Part of the alleged custody document ruse concerning Sophie.
    • Unauthorized use of propertyinterception of unauthorized devices: Giving Tabitha’s Facebook login info to his mother so she could allegedly spy on him.
    • Obstruction of justice: For allegedly lying to law enforcement and discouraging family from talking to law enforcement or responding to subpoenas.
    • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity:Committing crimes with his family, including the aggravated murders.

DAY 46 – 11/18/22

  • Both sides rested in front of the jury
  • The state did not put on a rebuttal case
  • State witnesses: 50
  • Defense witnesses: 10
  • The attorneys spent Friday morning arguing over the admission of the last batch of exhibits

DAY 45 – 11/17/22

  • Defendant George Wagner IV maintained his innocence as he returned to the witness stand for the second day Thursday in his murder and conspiracy trial for a shooting spree targeting his brother’s ex-girlfriend’s and seven members of her family.
    • WATCH: Defendant George Wagner IV Concludes Direct-Examination
    • Wagner stuck by his claim that he had no idea his family was planning to kill Hanna Rhoden and her family. He continued believing in his family’s innocence after the murders even as law enforcement honed in on them, he said. A law enforcement stop at a border crossing in 2017 during which the Wagners were interrogated for hours only reinforced his perception that law enforcement was framing them, he said. It confirmed what his father raised him to believe, that police were crooked and would do anything to close a case, even frame people.
    • “I now know that he was just lying through his teeth to me,” the defendant said of his brother.
  • Wagner maintained his composure through more than four hours of withering cross examination by special prosecutor Angela Canepa. It was Canepa who appeared to grow increasingly frustrated as he stonewalled her efforts to draw out inconsistences and unlikely coincidences with different versions of the response, “not that I recall.”

DAY 44 – 11/16/22

  • Jaws dropped among members of the jury as the defendant was called to the witness stand Wednesday morning, the 44th day of his murder and conspiracy trial for the 2016 shooting deaths of his brother’s ex-girlfriend and her family.
  • George Wagner IV wasted no time trying to distance himself from his family as he testified in his murder trial Wednesday and denied knowledge of their plan to kill eight people.
  • “I never would have believed my family was capable of doing something of this magnitude,” George Wagner testified. Had he known, “I never would have let it happen,” he said.
  • He said he remained convinced of their innocence — and unaware of their involvement — even as a cloud of suspicion followed the Wagners to Alaska and back to Ohio. It wasn’t until his brother pleaded guilty in 2021 that he learned the truth, he said.
  • READ MORE: George Wagner testifies in his defense, denies knowledge of plot to kill Rhoden family

DAY 43 – 11/15/22

  • The jury heard from two defense witnesses in between prolonged periods of the attorneys arguing over exhibits. The state still has not official rested.
  • Alex Staley, a friend of George Wagner’s, testified that after the murders, George “started tearing up and got real sad” during a conversation about the murders and victim Frankie Rhoden.
  • Bernard Brown, a Wagner family friend, said George was never aggressive or hostile in all his dealings with him.
  • The attorneys worked late into the night arguing over which exhibits the jury will have access to during deliberations.

DAY 42 – 11/14/22

  • The attorneys spent all day Monday going through the state’s exhibits – marking them and compiling them into a list while the defense decided which they objected to being admitted for the jury to review during deliberations.
  • At this point, the state still has not officially rested, but prosecutor Rob Junk said on Friday that they are done presenting their case in chief. We still expect to hear the defense’s motion for a judgement of acquittal after the state officially rests.

DAY 41 – 11/10/22

DAY 40 – 11/9/22

  • The jury heard 20 surreptitious recordings of phone calls between Jake, Angela and George Wagner; phone calls between Jake Wagner and then-wife Beth-Ann; and conversations between Jake and George in the commercial truck they drove cross-country together.
  • George Wagner came off as manic and deeply engaged in efforts to shield his family from law enforcement’s scrutiny and keep Beth-Ann away from Jake’s daughter and his son, Bovine.
  • The recordings showed the extent to which George and Angela demonized – and obsessed over — Beth-Ann over the unsubstantiated child abuse allegations despite Jake’s efforts to stick up for her, and the extent to which Beth-Ann felt targeted and trapped by Angela, comparing it to “living in Nazi Germany.”
  • Lots of yelling and shouting punctuated by “I love you, but…”
  • Jake and Angela testified they knew they were being recorded. We heard several instances of Angela Wagner trying to talk down her sons and cover for them when they make incriminating statements. Kept telling George to “get off the caffeine.”

DAY 38 – 11/7/22

  • The jury heard a preview of the defense case through five witnesses who George Wagner’s lawyers were permitted to call in the middle of the state’s case.
  • Testifying for the defense, a tattoo artist offered an innocuous explanation for the skull and 8-ball that he inked on George Wagner’s arm: He and George came up with it on the fly to cover up a diesel engine tattoo using symbols that the witness typically utilizes to cover up old tattoos.
  • Over the defense’s objections, the lead investigator walked the jury through alleged similarities between the murder plot and the “Boondock Saints,” which included a possible explanation for Billy Wagner’s scorpion tattoo.
  • The father and son who pastored the Wagners in Ohio and Alaska talk about the differences between George and Jake.

DAY 37 – 11/4/22

DAY 34 – 11/1/22

DAY 33 – 10/31/22

DAY 32 – 10/28/22

  • The defense moves to dismiss the death specifications for George Wagner IV after his brother finishes testifying. When the judge asked if the state was ready to do that, the state said they needed to discuss it in private.
  • Jake Wagner’s turn on the stand ends with a dramatic flourish as the defendant’s lawyer waves his hand in Jake’s direction and says “take him away, judge, no further questions.”
  • Before that, defense lawyer John Parker called Jake Wagner him a “stone-cold killer” who sold his testimony to the state to save his life instead of throwing himself at the mercy of the court with death specifications like his brother, the defendant.
  • Jake admitted he wanted more from the plea bargains than what he got, including being allowed to see his daughter and nephew, and having charges dropped against his brother and mom.
  • Jake admitted to having memory problems and sometimes making things up that didn’t happen.
  • READ MORE: Jake Wagner testifies against his brother in Ohio Family Massacre Trial

DAY 31 – 10/26/22

  • Cross-examination of Jake Wagner began with a potentially explosive revelation: George Wagner didn’t like the idea of killing Hanna Rhoden, who he thought of as a sister, and only went along to protect Jake from their father, fearing he might kill Jake.
  • The state finished its direct examination of Jake Wagner after 2.5 days of questioning.
  • Judge Deering finds that possible safety threats in prison — where inmates target other inmates who testify against relatives — justify Jake Wagner’s decision to opt out of being shown on camera.

DAY 30 – 10/25/22

  • The jury heard about the Wagners’ efforts to conceal their involvement in the murders by burning their clothes and shell casings and hiding the weapons in concrete-filled buckets that anchored a floating “goose house” in their grandparents lake (that was a gift to their grandfather).
  • Jake Wagner said he feels “immense guilt” and described victim Chris Rhoden Sr. as a father figure who he’d hoped would one day be his father-in-law.

    Jake Wagner arrives on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022 to testify in the trial of his brother, George Wagner IV, ln Pike County Common Pleas Court in Waverly, Ohio. Eight members of the Rhoden family were found shot to death at four different locations on April 21-22, 2016. Jake Wagner has already pleaded guilty, but has yet to be sentenced. Their mom, Angela Wagner, also pleaded guilty. Billy Wagner III will go on trial in 2023. (Liz Dufour/Cincinnati Inquirer/POOL)

  • Prosecutors test Jake Wagner’s credibility by asking him about events his ex-wife and former sister-in-law testified to.

DAY 29 – 10/24/22

DAY 28 – 10/21/22

  • Elizabeth Armer, who married George Wagner IV’s brother Jake in March 2018 after the family moved to Alaska, testified
    • She came from an Amish Mennonite community in Tennessee. Jake married her in Alaska and brought her to Ohio
    • Was hesitant to talk to George’s attorneys because she’s terrified of the Wagners
    • Armer read aloud journal entries from her three-months in Ohio with the Wagners. She described Angela Wagner as one of three people in the world she hated and listed 15 reasons why, including that she used her grandchildren to manipulate and control her sons and undermine Armer
    • Armer also read aloud a list of “Plan to Crush Her,” referring to Angela
    • Armer described the evasive maneuvers she and her father took to avoid being followed after the Wagners agreed to drop her off at a Walmart so she could leave
    • Stated that after Angela Wagner falsely accused Armer of sexually touching Jake’s daughter, Jake threatened to “string up” Armer in a barn, beat her to death with a bat (named Lucille for the “Walking Dead” bat), burn and bulldoze the barn, then kill Armer’s family
    • When Armer called a friend for help, the friend spoke to Jake and concluded Jake was “exaggerating and speaking out of anger” and told Armer to calm down
    • Stated that Jake and his family threatened to murder her

DAY 27 – 10/20/22

  • Criminal intelligence analyst reads text messages from October 2013 to July 2015 between Jake Wagner and Hanna Rhoden over custody and the upbringing of their daughter Sophie, aka “Suds”
  • Firearm expert examines shell casings and projectiles found at crime scenes
  • BCI Agent searches Angela Wagner’s devices and purchases replicas of items bought on Jake and George’s credit cards

DAY 26 – 10/19/22

  • The jury got its first look at the homemade silencer made from a Maglite flashlight that’s believed to have been used in the murders.
  • The silencer – which was found beneath bricks at the bottom of a well in a barn on Wagner’s Peterson Road property — forms the basis of the charge of unlawful possession of an ordnance.
  • The jury heard about purchases made on George Wagner’s credit card – drill bits, flashlights, filters — that could have been used to make a silencer.
  • The defense pointed out that Jake Wagner’s credit card also purchased items that could have been used to make a silencer — namely, a Maglite — and tried to cast doubt on who exactly made the purchases given the Wagner family’s intertwined finances.
  • An ATF agent painstakingly walked the jury through the ins and outs of silencers. Opined that the item found in the well is a silencer and that the items purchased with George Wagner’s credit card in the weeks before the murders could have been used to make a silencer.

DAY 25 – 10/18/22

  • BCI Criminal Intelligence Analyst Julia Eveslage recalled:
    • The jury heard voices of Hanna Rhoden and child Sophie through secret pocket recordings on Jake Wagner’s phone from 12/2015 to early 2016 when the two were fighting over custody of Sophie.
    • Conversations occur during Jake’s pickups and drop-offs of Sophie at Hanna’s home; Sophie heard calling for Mommy throughout; audio poor with a few exceptions. Generally depict tension between the two and Jake’s concern for Sophie.
    • Clarifies timing of when Jake Wagner searched for Boondock Saints clip: 7:06 p.m. on 4/21/16 — a few hours before murders.
  • BCI Agent Jennifer Comisford recalled to discuss collecting handwriting samples from Angela Wagner and submitting them for analysis. The writing samples included her own name and signature, the names and signatures of Hanna Rhoden and Rita Newcomb, and guardianship forms filled out and signed in Hanna and Rita’s names.
  • Stipulation: Three crime labs concluded that a palm print depicted in photos of a gun in someone’s hand is Jake Wagner’s palm print. The photos were among media from Jake Wagner’s phone that was found on a laptop in the Wagner family car that was collected during their stop at the US-Canada border.

    Madison County Lt. Bryan White testifies in the trial of George Wagner IV, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Pike County Common Pleas Court in Waverly, Ohio. In 2016, White was a lead crime scene investigator with Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations on the case. He’s holding a photo of George Wagner IV at the Pike County sheriff’s office when he voluntarily came in to get feet impressions and fingerprinted on July 23, 2018. Eight members of the Rhoden family were found shot to death at four different locations on April 21-22, 2016. Wagner’s brother Jake Wagner and mom, Angela Wagner, have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. George’s dad, George “Billy” Wagner III will go on trial in 2023. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. (Liz Dufour/POOL)

  • Former BCI agent Bryan White described measurements he took of George, Billy and Jake Wagner’s feet to compare them with impressions from the crime scene. He also discussed fingerprints and palm prints collected from the three Wagner men.
  • BCI Criminal Intelligence Analyst Julia Eveslage finished her cross and redirect testimony concerning wiretaps/recordings of cell phone conversations and a bug placed in the Wagner family car after they were stopped at the Montana-Canada border. The judge denied the defense’s request to play the recordings in their entirety.
  • BCI Forensic Accountant Michael Kaizar walks jury through bank account, credit card transactions and insurance payouts of Wagner family and their businesses (Wagner Trucking and Defiance Farms).
  • BCI Criminal Intelligence Analyst Julia Eveslage recalled: Walks jury through timeline of Wagner family purchases in early 2016 of flashlights, drill bits and other items typically used to make homemade suppressors

DAY 19 – 10/5/22

DAY 18 – 10/4/22

DAY 17 – 10/3/22

DAY 16 – 9/30/22

DAY 15 – 9/28/22

DAY 14 – 9/27/22

DAY 13 – 9/26/22

DAY 12 – 9/23/22

  • Lt. Bryan White, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, continued his testimony. White was assigned to crime scene #3.
  • Dr. Karen Looman, the Chief Deputy Coroner of Hamilton County continued her testimony.
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Deputy Coroner Testifies

DAY 11 – 9/22/22

  • The defense motioned for a mistrial, the judge denied it once again.
  • Lt. Bryan White, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, took the stand. White was assigned to crime scene #3.
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Day 11 

DAY 10 – 9/21/22

DAY 9 – 9/20/22

DAY 8 – 9/19/22

  • Shane Hanshaw continued to walk the jury through the crime scene evidence Monday
  • BCI agent Todd Fortner, who was assigned to the crime scene unit, takes the stand
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Day 8

DAY 7 – 9/16/22

DAY 6 – 9/15/22

  • Darryl Hart
    • Formerly paramedic for Portsmith Ambulance
    • On April 22, 2016, was dispatched to Union Hill Rd.
    • Found a baby in one of the homes, took the baby out, cared for it because it looked “sluggish,” had “slight movements,” though the “bottom of foot perked up”
    • It was “very very young”
  •  Donald Stone
    • Kenneth’s cousin (Kenneth’s mother and his father are siblings)
    • Said when he was down and out, Kenneth was there to help him
    • On April 22, 2016, he was at an HUD appointment, then started to make phone calls and tried to reach Kenneth
    • Went to the church where everyone was gathered estimated 150 people to be there
    • Later walked up to Kenneth’s door, told Luke to go in first because Kenneth was Luke’s dad
    • Left Sean Watson by the car
    • Found that the door was unlocked
    • Walked up the stairway to the right, found Kenneth, he had blood over his eyes, he was in his bed dead, went straight out the back door, drove up the street to call 911 because he couldn’t get signal at Kenneth’s house
    • The 911 call is played out in court
    • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre: Jury Hears 911 Call from Family Member
    • On cross-examination, Stone testified Kenneth was well off, gave money when it was needed
    • Kenneth trafficked marijuana
  • Luke Rhoden
    • Son of Kenneth Rhoden
    • His parents divorced when he was 14 – 15 years old
    • Saw Kenneth 3 – 4x per week
    • Said Kenneth usually showered at Chris’ then went to Columbus to work
    • Kenneth grew marijuana at the bottom of the shack on the property
    • Said he helped trim the marijuana
    • Didn’t know the Wagners a lot, though Jake once talked to him about a tattoo
    • Met George once, during that one time, he (Luke) went swimming in a pond with him (George), his woman, Hanna, Jake
    • Met Billy once
    • Knew Frankie, became closer with Frankie when they got older, knew Frankie did derby car racing, chicken fighting, and hunted
    • On April 22, 2016, his (Luke’s) mom told him to get up because Chris and everyone got shot up on the hill, she received the news from a phone call
    • Said he first arrived at Frankie’s then later gathered at a church
    • Said he tried to contact his father, didn’t receive any news back
    • Said Kenneth worked at U.S. Utilities
    • Cousins = Donald Stone and Sean Watson
    • Donald was the one who broke the news to him (Luke) that Kenneth had been shot
    • Saw his father’s leg, top of head, couldn’t see his face because he had a blanket on him, just his forehead and hair
    • Knows Brett Hatfield
    • Dog = Brownie (Is inside at night, is outside during the day)
    • Said Kenneth locks the place when he leaves
    • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Luke Rhoden Talks to Court TV
  • Cross-examination
    • The people who went swimming at the pond = Luke, Jake, Hanna, George, George’s ex
    • Said Frankie did not go swimming at the pond
    • Said he helped pack Kenneth’s rocks, dumped them, said they’re used to grow marijuana because there’s water in rocks (hydroponics), said this creates higher grade marijuana
    • Said this marijuana is sold $2,600 per pound, then changed this statement to be a range of $2,800 – $3,000 per pound
    • Said the products of Kenneth’s plants are moved out every 3 – 4 months to Chris’ house
    • Said Kenneth was going to leave and give the land to Chris
    • Doesn’t know why Kenneth would get out of the business
    • Said Gary previously dealt with the marijuana transactions
  • Brett Hatfield
    • Works in U.S. utilities
    • Brett and Frankie were in the same vocational school, Frankie studied welding
    • Brett and Frankie went to work together
    • Brett met Frankie at Union Hill church
    • Brett met Kenneth because they lived next door to each other, before he met Frankie
    • Brett knew the Rhodens, thought Dana was strict, said Frankie smoked marijuana
    • Brett last saw Kenneth when he dropped off on .22 magnum off at Kenneth’s house
    • On April 22, 2016, “I was supposed to pick him (Kenneth) up from work that day,” we were supposed to leave around 4:00 AM for work, it took 45 minutes – 1 hour to get to work, went to bed at midnight probably
    • On April 22, 2016, Brett “pulled into the driveway” of Kenneth’s house, said Kenneth’s never came to the door, thought Kenneth went to the hospital because he had previously talked about his blood pressure
    • On April 22, 2016, “Jake had called me and asked me if I had heard anything”
    • Said Donald Stone told him the news that Kenneth was dead, ended up going to the church, after went to go look for surveillance cams on Kenneth’s property to see who had been there, though there were no cams that day
    • Knows the Wagners through Chris and Frankie
    • Said the Wagners burned down their house for money
  • On cross-examination,
    • “Sometimes he wouldn’t, sometimes he would” (Kenneth) lock his door, it could be locked from the inside
    • Chris’ marijuana growth cycle = 90 days, could produce 30 lbs of marijuana if he was lucky, it would take two weeks to sell
    • One time, Chris won a cockfight for $30,000
    • One time, saw Chris with $40,000 in a black bag
    • One time, Chris was supposed to go west to Cincinnati with Billy to bring back a load of drugs, though he didn’t end up going
    • Said he didn’t know who Big Money Mike was
    • Chris didn’t have a large amount of cocaine, “If he had it, I almost guarantee you he wasn’t selling it”
  • On redirect,
    • Isn’t sure if Billy went to Cincinnati
    • Said Billy told someone named Charlie something about the Cincinnati deal out west, thought Charlie would come forward with this information
  • Beau Romine
    • In 2016, worked at the sheriff’s office as a transport correction officer
    • On April 22, 2016, he was dispatched to Union Hill Rd., though he didn’t go into the properties, was told to go back to the sheriff’s office and handle calls, was then told to go to the post office, was then told to go to Kenneth’s house address
    • Entered Ken’s residence, saw Kenneth’s body – just the shoes, because the rest of his body was covered with a blanket
    • Said Luke’s response was “shock, very emotional, angry kind of”

DAY 5 – 9/14/22

  • Deputy Adam Ball
    • Went to 2nd location (Frankie’s house), entered residence, tried to avoid blood on the floor, found two victims on the floor, checked for a neck pulse
    • Went to 3rd location (Dana’s house), found younger male laying on his stomach, facing away from the door, “I could hear a baby crying,” found a female in bed “she was deceased laying on her back,” found a third victim
    • At the 3rd location, found a marijuana nursery (small plants)
    • On cross-examination, Bell testified what he found was a professional growth operation, it was “extensive,” there were facilities and security cameras, “the building was full” (of marijuana)
  • Ofc. Morgan Music
    • Went to crime scene, found two deceased males
    • Also found a marijuana, this was in a semi-trailer and in a green building
  • Tracy Evans
    • On April 22, 2016, was a major in the Sheriff’s investigative unit
    • Heard a code 8 (assault), went to one of the scenes, ordered an officer to secure the scene
    • Met with Bobbi Jo, who said there were more deceased
    • Went to a second location and found three deceased people and a “small, small infant” that looked “months” old
    • Called BCI to process the scene
  • Timothy Dickerson
  • Gary Mosley
    • On April 22, 2016, was a patrolman, worked traffic control
    • Dispatched to Union Hill
    • With the help of a diagram, Mosley indicates the scenes he walked through and where one had a line of sight into a bedroom from the hallway
  • Miranda Cable
    • On April 22, 2016, worked as a paramedic and station manager for Portsmith Ambulance
    • Dispatched to Union Hill
    • Thought it was a possible domestic violence case, heard it’s possible someone was dead on the scene, maybe there was an assault
    • Ultimately visited three scenes
    • Transported Ruger to the hospital. He had blood on his head, arms, and legs. Thought there were no visible injuries
    • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Paramedic Testifies 
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Day 5

DAY 4 – 9/13/22

  • Bobbi Manley – discovered victims’ bodies
    • Took care of Chris Rhoden Sr.’s animals
    • Went to the home on April 22, 2016
      • Noticed blood on the floor of the hallway
      • Found Chris, deceased, by his bed on the floor and called 911
      • Gary Rhoden was on the floor near Chris
      • Went to Frankie Rhoden’s house to tell him his dad was dead, and found Frankie and Hazel deceased
      • The jury hears Bobbi’s 911 call
  • Billy Morgan – discovered victims’ bodies
    • Longtime friend of Bobbi Manley, formerly employed by Chris Rhoden Sr.
    • Went to Chris Rhoden’s home on April 22, 2016
      • Found Chris and another person deceased on the floor
  • James Manley – Brother of Dana Rhoden
  • Dept. Jonathan Chandler
    • On April 22, 2016, was dispatched to one of the scenes
    • Observed a baby: “The baby was covered head to toe in blood”
    • Noticed the demeanor of the family: “They were very frantic, very upset, very emotional”
    • Noticed two individuals covered in blood (Frankie and Hazel), they were in their underwear, they appeared to have wounds to the head, the male had bruising to the face
  • Justin Waring – Paramedic
    • Dispatched to the scene on April 22, 2016
      • Arrived at Frankie and Hazel’s house
      • Was told by an officer that two people on site were deceased and was escorted to a bedroom
      • Began treating the area like a crime scene and gathered the names of the deceased for his report
      • Observed two children (Brentley and Ruger)
      • Attended to Ruger: said Ruger acted appropriately, was just covered in blood

DAY 3 – 9/12/22

DAY 2 – 9/1/22

  • The jury’s tour of the crime scenes and locations that prosecutors considered pertinent to the Rhoden family massacre, ended Thursday afternoon at a county impound lot where the victims’ living quarters had been towed and stored. Jurors were led into a white barn-like structure that housed the homes where eight members of the Rhoden family were shot and killed.
  • Reporters were excluded from visiting the Rhoden trailer homes, as well as the sprawling horse breeding ranch owned by the defendant’s grandmother Fredericka Wagner and a house formerly owned by another Wagner family members. The owners of the private properties told police they would not permit media representatives to traverse their land.
  • Jurors  crisscrossed the rural roads of Pike county aboard a school bus, visiting four sites that were part of a list of locations that would take two full days to cover. Prosecutors allege that these locations yielded evidence of the murder-spree carried out by George Wagner IV, the defendant, his brother, and his father. Jurors were out for nearly eight hours, before returning to the courthouse to receive an admonishment to avoid media about the case, before being  dismissed for the holiday weekend. Monday’s jury view took more than 10 hours, which included visiting the properties where the victims were murdered.
  • Judge Randy Deering issued a ruling against the defense who sought to suppress text messages made by Hanna Rhoden. Hanna, the mother of Jake Wagner’s daughter allegedly sparked the murderous rampage after she refused to cave in to pressure to give up custody of their child.
  • Her message to the defendant’s former mother-in-law, “I won’t sign papers ever, it won’t happen, they will have to kill me first,” is expected to play a key role in the state’s case, Shortly after she wrote the message, the Wagners allegedly began hatching a plan to kill the Rhodens.
  • Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6.
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Jury Finishes Viewing Crime Scenes | Court TV Video

DAY 1 – 8/31/22

  • After jurors were sworn in, they boarded a bus that took them to ground zero of the Rhoden family massacre. The first stop 4077 Union Hill Road, where jurors were escorted onto a grassy field, where a barn marked by faded  pictures of the Rhoden family stood. Here is where the attack first started with Chris Rhoden Sr. and cousin Gary Rhoden shot to death in a mobile home.
  • Further up the road jurors viewed a second property, where a broken down wooden platform and cinder blocks indicated where a trailer home once rested.  Here detectives recovered the bodies of Frankie Rhoden and his fiancée, Hannah Gilley.
  • Continuing along Union Hill Road about 1.5 miles from the first 2 properties was a third property with a red barn —another kill site – where three more bodies were found. Among the dead Dana Rhoden, her son Chris Jr., and her daughter Hanna Rhoden – the woman at the center of the custody dispute with the defendant’s brother that allegedly provoked the slaughter.
  • Several miles into dense woods, the jury bus came to rest at the bottom of a fork in a gravel road. The left side of the fork was appropriately called ‘Left Fork Road,’ the location of the fourth crime scene. Unless you were familiar with the road, the only way one could find it in the night would have been via satellite GPS. Few road signs or street lamps appeared anywhere to help navigate.
  • Jurors were directed down a driveway into an area where a camper was located. From the clearing at the top of the road it would have been difficult to even see the camper, but in 2016 Kenneth Rhoden, another member of the family was shot and killed.
  • The road tour continued after lunch with a visit to the former home of the Wagner family on Peterson Road.
  • The final stop, jurors viewed a large structure about 6 miles away, a storage facility where reportedly the Wagners stored their belongings before moving to Alaska.
  • WATCH: Ohio Family Massacre Trial: Jury Views Crime Scenes 



Court TV Legal Correspondent Chanley Painter, Digital Managing Editor Beth Hemphill and Senior Director of Courtroom Coverage Grace Wong contributed to this report.