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Grandmothers in Rhoden case want house arrest changed

Seeking to go to church, other places

WAVERLY — The grandmothers accused of lying to law enforcement about a family massacre are asking for changes to their house arrest.

Rita Newcomb, 65, of South Webster, and Fredericka Wagner, 76, of Lucasville, are facing felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury for allegedly misleading investigators over the course of the investigation of the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family in 2016.

Both women have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of obstructing justice and perjury.

Attorneys for 76-year-old Fredericka Wagner asked a judge Thursday if she could be allowed to leave her home so she could go to church. She also wants to visit a home for developmentally disabled adults that she founded.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Rita Newcomb says she wants to be able to go her farm to take care of her horses and dogs.

In November 2018, George “Billy” Wagner III, 47, Angela Wagner, 48, George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, of South Webster, are each charged with eight counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges in court.

They lived in Peebles at the time of the murders before moving to Alaska. The eight counts represent each victim found dead on April 22, 2016. They were indicted by the Pike County grand jury, which had been examining evidence in the case since July 2018.

The indictments allege that the suspects purchased ammunition, a magazine clip, brass catcher(s), and a bug detector in preparation for the crimes. They also allegedly obtained and shared information about the physical layouts of the victims’ properties, their habits and routines, sleeping locations, and countersurveillance devices present on their properties, including pets.

The indictments accuse the Wagners of tampering with phones, cameras, a silencer, shell casings, and parts of a home security system.

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.

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.


The Associated Press contributed to this story