An Ohio man pleaded responsible on Thursday to eight counts of aggravated homicide within the deadly shootings of his little one’s mom and 7 of her members of the family in 2016, a criminal offense that spurred rampant hypothesis that it was tied to drug trafficking however that prosecutors mentioned had stemmed from a bitter custody dispute.
The person, Edward Wagner, 28, apologized for his position within the killings of eight members of the Rhoden household, 5 years to the date that their our bodies had been present in a number of cell houses and a camper in a sparsely populated space of Pike County within the southern a part of the state. Every sufferer had been shot within the head.
As a part of a plea deal reached in Pike County, prosecutors agreed to not pursue the loss of life penalty towards Mr. Wagner, whom they advisable ought to serve eight life sentences with out the opportunity of parole. He had beforehand pleaded not responsible.
In change, Mr. Wagner, referred to as Jake, agreed that he would testify towards his mother and father and an grownup brother within the murder case, which took greater than two years of an intensive investigation earlier than arrests had been made. Mr. Wagner confessed to personally inflicting the deaths of 5 of the eight victims, in accordance with prosecutors.
“I’m deeply and really sorry,” mentioned Mr. Wagner, who will likely be sentenced at a later date.
Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Wagner had been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Hanna Might Rhoden over the custody of their then-2-year-old daughter, Sophia, when he and his members of the family deliberate the murders.
On the time of the killings, Ms. Rhoden, 19, had begun seeing another person and was pregnant with that individual’s little one, in accordance with prosecutors, who mentioned that Mr. Wagner had solid court docket paperwork sustaining that he would get custody of Sophia within the occasion of Ms. Rhoden’s loss of life.
“Jake grew to be upset with Hanna over the truth that Hanna was exposing Sophia to those that he believed that she shouldn’t be round,” Angie Canepa, a particular prosecutor within the case, mentioned on Thursday.
Ms. Canepa mentioned that Ms. Rhoden had advised a good friend in a Fb message in December 2015 that she would by no means signal papers sharing custody of Sophia with Mr. Wagner.
“‘They must kill me first,’” mentioned the message, which was a part of hacked materials present in possession of Mr. Wagner’s household, in accordance with Ms. Canepa.
Beside Ms. Rhoden, her mother and father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, and his ex-wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37, had been killed. So had been her siblings, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence (Frankie) Rhoden, 20. The opposite victims included Frankie Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah (Hazel) Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and his cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.
Brian Okay. Duncan, a lawyer for the Rhodens, mentioned in an e-mail on Thursday that the household was overcome by emotion over Mr. Wagner’s responsible plea.
“Mr. Wagner’s plea gives at the least some semblance of speedy justice, and a glimmer of hope that maybe all accountable events will in the end be held accountable for his or her respective actions within the close to future,” Mr. Duncan mentioned.
The instances of Mr. Wagner’s mother and father, George (Billy) Wagner III and Angela Wagner, and his brother, George Wagner IV, all of whom have pleaded not responsible, are persevering with.
Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Wagner had spent a number of months planning the murders and had bought supplies for making silencers for weapons and a cellphone jammer.
Shell casings matching a few of these used within the murders had been discovered on the Wagner residence, the authorities mentioned, and the tread marks from bloody footprints discovered on the scene matched these on a number of pairs of footwear that the Wagners had not too long ago bought.
The case had appeared that it would contain medication when sheriff’s deputies discovered three marijuana-growing operations on the premises of at the least one of many houses the place the victims’ our bodies had been found.
Along with the eight counts of aggravated homicide, Mr. Wagner pleaded responsible to fifteen different legal counts that included conspiracy, aggravated housebreaking and tampering with proof.
“I’m responsible, your honor,” he repeated when requested if he needed to vary his earlier not responsible pleas.
Greg Meyers, a public defender for Mr. Wagner, mentioned that his shopper had gone “eyes extensive open” into the plea settlement.
“He is aware of he’s going to die in jail with none judicial launch,” Mr. Meyers mentioned.