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2 Years Later, Arrests in Rhoden Family Massacre

Authorities say custody dispute played role in Ohio slaying of 8
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2018 6:07 PM CST
Updated Nov 14, 2018 1:33 AM CST
These undated images released by the Ohio Attorney General's office, show from left, George "Billy" Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV and Edward "Jake" Wagner.   (Ohio Attorney General's office via AP)

(Newser) – Two and a half years after the execution-style slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family in Ohio, another family has been arrested. Four members of the Wagner family were arrested Tuesday, and authorities say a custody dispute played a role in the murders, the AP reports. Edward "Jake" Wagner, now 26, was the ex-boyfriend of Hanna Rhoden, 19, who was killed while lying in bed with her 4-day-old baby girl. Wagner was not the newborn's father, but shared custody of another daughter, Sophia, now 5, with Rhoden. Sophia was not with her mother when she was murdered; the newborn as well as two of her young cousins who were present were not hurt. (This chart shows how all the victims were related.) Also arrested, per Cincinnati.com: Wagner's parents George "Billy" Wagner III, 47, and Angela Wagner, 48, and his brother George Wagner IV, 27. All four have been charged with eight counts of aggravated murder and also face a slew of other charges.

The mothers of both elder Wagners were also arrested and accused of forging custody documents in an alleged cover-up of the crimes. Citing a "fixation" and "obsession" the Wagner family allegedly had with the custody situation, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday the situation is "the most bizarre story I've ever seen. It's just amazing." Authorities say the Wagners knew the Rhodens well and spent months studying their routines and the layouts of their homes. But the Wagners have long denied involvement and insisted they were close friends with the Rhodens; they moved to Alaska after the killings due, they said, to intense speculation over their possible involvement in the case. "Sophia is getting older," Jake Wagner (who also set up a GoFundMe for custody-related legal bills in the wake of the massacre) said at the time, so they moved "so she wouldn’t hear it." They were arrested, however, in Ohio and Kentucky. (See all our previous coverage of the massacre.)

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