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Suspects in slayings of family of 8 to be in court

WAVERLY (AP) — Four people charged in the slayings of eight people in rural Ohio in 2016 are set for court hearings on aggravated murder charges and other counts.

Authorities say the four Wagner family members charged in the shooting deaths of eight Rhoden family members will be arraigned over the next two weeks in Pike County Common Pleas Court in Waverly.

Forty-seven-year-old George “Billy” Wagner III is set for a Dec. 4 hearing. His 48-year-old wife, Angela Wagner, is due in court Nov. 29. Their sons, 26-year-old Edward Wagner and 27-year-old George Wagner are scheduled for hearings Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, respectively.

An attorney who has represented the Wagners has said they will be vindicated.

Authorities have suggested a custody dispute over a child as a possible motive.

The Wagners are accused of killing seven members of the Rhoden family, plus the fiancée of one of the Rhoden victims, at four different Pike County homes.

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.

Most of the victims were killed as they slept. Three young children, including a five-day-old baby, at home at the time of the murders were left physically unharmed.

Jake Wagner is also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual contact with Hanna May Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old. Jake Wagner is the father of Hanna May Rhoden’s older daughter, who was staying with the Wagners on the night the homicides took place. All four suspects are accused of forging custody documents.

Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the arrests of the Wagner family on Nov. 13 and said “The Wagners were friends with the Rhodens and had been for years.