WAVERLY, Ohio (LEX 18) — Edward “Jake” Wagner, the youngest son of an Ohio family accused in the 2016 massacre of eight people from another family, pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday to a raft of charges after a lengthy arraignment.
The judge also ruled Wagner will be held without bail and Wagner waived his right to a speedy trial at Tuesday’s hearing. In addition, the judge approved a gag order submitted by both prosecutors and defense attorneys precluding anyone involved in the proceedings from talking to media/
Investigators have said the families involved had been longtime friends and that the crime was precipitated by a child custody dispute along with “an undercurrent of drugs.”
Authorities said Wagner III, Angela Wagner, 48, George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, each are facing eight counts of aggravated murder. DeWine said the charges “include death penalty specifications for all four suspects.” All four also face a slew of other charges, including conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance, forgery, unauthorized use of property, interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, obstructing justice, and aggravated burglary.
The Wagners are accused of planning and carrying out the 2016 shooting murders of eight people well-known to the family. The victims were identified as Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37, and their three children, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20. Frankie Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah “Hazel” Gilley, 20, also were killed, along with the elder Christopher Rhoden’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and cousin Gary Rhoden, 38. Three young children were left unharmed.
Authorities said Hanna Rhoden had been in a custody dispute with Jake Wagner over a child they had together.
“Custody of that young child plays a role in this case,” DeWine said Tuesday.