The jurors in the trial of George Wagner, IV, will be taken to several locations for a “jury view” before opening statements begin. The locations include the four crime scenes where eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families were murdered, the former home Wagner shared with his mother and brother, and the horse farm owned by his grandmother.
Wagner, who says he did not shoot anyone, faces eight counts of aggravated murder and a laundry list of other charges for the April 2016 deaths of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families. Christopher Rhoden, Sr. and his cousin, Gary Rhoden were murdered in his trailer. Christopher’s ex-wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, and the children she shared with Christopher, Hanna May Rhoden and Christopher Rhoden, Jr. were shot to death in a second mobile home nearby. Christopher, Sr. and Dana’s oldest son, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden and his fiancée Hannah “Hazel” Gilley were shot to death in their mobile home. Christopher, Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, was shot to death in his camper several miles away.
Hanna May’s 5-day-old daughter was sleeping next to her when her mother was shot. Frankie and Hazel’s toddler son and an infant were with them when they were killed. All of the children were unharmed.
Prosecutors have said George’s younger brother, Jake Wagner, and his mother, Angela Wagner, confessed to planning the murders so the family could have sole custody of the little girl Jake shared with Hanna May. George and Jake’s father, George “Billy” Wagner, III, also faces eight aggravated murder charges. All of the Wagners were charged with conspiracy and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Judge Randy Deering told jurors Tuesday afternoon to wear comfortable clothing and not something they would “wear to a party.” He also advised the jurors against wearing open-toed shoes because they would be doing a lot of walking over the two days the jury view would take place.
The jury view will help orient jurors with locations that are relevant to the investigation and where significant pieces of evidence were found.
4077 Union Hill Rd. Peebles, Ohio
Chris Rhoden and his cousin, Gary Rhoden, were found dead in a mobile home by Bobby Jo Manley, Rhoden’s sister-in-law. Gary Rhoden was staying at the home that night. Law enforcement said at the time of the arrests that cockfighting chickens and a sophisticated marijuana grow operation were found on the property. When the Wagners were charged with the homicides, however, then-Attorney General Mike DeWine said drugs didn’t play a role in the murders.
Frankie Rhoden and his fiancée, Hazel Gilley, lived in the mobile home with their 6-month-old baby. Frankie and Hazel were found in their bed shot to death and the 6-month-old baby boy was found in between them covered in blood. Frankie’s toddler son was in the home as well.
3122 Union Hill Rd. Peebles, Ohio
Christopher Rhoden, Sr. purchased the property in March 2016 so his ex-wife, Dana, and their two children, Hanna May and Chris, Jr. could live there. Hanna May, 19, was due to give birth within a month. Family members said Dana had decorated the home for her children and the new baby. On April 22, 2016, Dana, Hanna May and Chris were found dead in the home. Hanna May’s 5-day-old daughter was the only one left alive.
1084 Left Fork Rd. Rarden, Ohio
Kenneth Rhoden was sleeping in his camper at this property on April 22, 2016 when he was shot in the head. The property did not have running water so Kenneth drove to Christopher’s home each morning to shower before leaving for work. Investigators found a marijuana grow operation at the property.
260 Peterson Rd. Peebles, Ohio
George and Jake Wagner purchased this home and lived there with their mother, Angela, and George’s young son. While George was married to Tabitha Claytor, she lived in the home. Hanna May Rhoden stayed at the home for a time while she and Jake dated. Investigators found parts of a homemade silencer in a well on the property along with a burned video recorder that was part of the Rhoden family’s surveillance camera system. Several spent shell casings were also found in the driveway of the property that prosecutors said came from one of the murder weapons.
6851 Camp Creek Rd. Camp Creek Township, Ohio
The Flying W Farm is a sprawling horse farm owned by George “Billy” Wagner’s mother, Fredericka Wagner. At the time of the slayings, Billy was living at the farm because his father, Bob, was terminally ill. This is the location where investigators found a bullet resistant vest in Billy’s bedroom during a search in May 2017. Law enforcement searched the property several times starting in May 2017. Several ponds on the property were searched for evidence on a number of occasions. Jurors will be directed to the large pond and any buildings on the property. The Wagners are known for designing a breed of horse called Fresian Georgian Grande.
845 Bethel Hill Rd. Camp Creek Township, Ohio
Billy, Angela, Jake and George Wagner lived at this property before purchasing the Peterson Rd. home. Tabitha Claytor, George’s ex-wife, also lived at the property.
28172 State Route 41, Village of Peebles, Ohio
In May 2017, when investigators searched the Peterson Rd. property that had recently been sold by George and Jake Wagner, they also searched the property on State Route 41. The Wagners had stored their belongings on the property as they planned to move to Alaska. The Wagners were out of town at the time the properties were searched as they prepared to move to Alaska. Investigators found the Wagners’ belongings stored in a truck trailer and among the belongings were forged custody documents in a bin marked “important stuff.”
52 Havener Lane, South Webster, Ohio
This home was owned by Angela Wagner’s late father. The family stayed at the home after returning from Alaska in 2018. State agents took Angela Wagner into custody at the home on November 13, 2018. George’s son and Jake’s daughter, were at the home at the time of her arrest.
Search of mobile homes and pickup truck
In May 2016, the Rhodens’ mobile homes and Kenneth Rhoden’s camper were moved to a warehouse to preserve the crime scenes. Jurors will also see a truck stored at this lot. Prosecutors have said Jake Wagner led them to a truck the family purchased to carry out the homicides.
[Images via Ohio AG]
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