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Death penalty sought for family of four in Pike County murders

WAVERLY — At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that they will be seeking the death penalty for four family members accused of killing eight Pike County residents in 2016.

Earlier in the day, it was announced that George “Billy” Wagner III, 47, Angela Wagner, 48, George Wagner IV, 27 and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, had been arrested and were being charged in the slayings of the Rhoden family on April 22, 2016.

Lexington, Kentucky police and the FBI arrested George Billy Wagner on Tuesday in Lexington in a horse trailer that was pulled over.

DeWine said that a grand jury indicted the four on aggravated murder charges and that each of them could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Edward “Jake” Wagner has a 4-year-old daughter with victim, Hanna May Rhoden.

DeWine says the Wagner family knew the victims well and spent months studying their routines and the layouts of their homes.

The Wagner family lived in Peebles at the time of the killings but had been living in Alaska as of last year.

Seven adults and one teenage boy from the Rhoden family were slain in April 2016. They were found shot at four homes near Piketon. Three children were found unharmed.

Killed were 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, was also killed, along with the elder Christopher Rhoden’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.

The investigation has centered around the Wagners for the past two years, with DeWine’s office sending out a press release asking the public for information about them.

The Wagner family was living in Alaska as of last year.

Their Ohio attorney, John Kearson Clark, said family members look forward to their day in court so they can clear their names.

Clark says in a statement the family is waiting for the day “when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this terrible tragedy.”

Clark has previously said Wagner family members provided laptops, phones and DNA samples to investigators, and agreed to be interviewed about the slayings.

–The Associated Press contributed to this story.