Suspect waives extradition, will return to Ohio
WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) – The Latest on arrests in the slayings of eight family members in Ohio (all times local):
A suspect in the 2016 slaying of eight family members has agreed to return to Ohio following his arrest in Kentucky.
George “Billy” Wagner III was arrested after being found in a horse trailer in Lexington Tuesday. The 47-year-old Wagner waived his rights to an extradition hearing in a brief appearance Wednesday in Lexington district court.
Wagner is one of four members of his family charged with aggravated murder and other counts for the 2016 shooting deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family in a rural Ohio community.
They spent time in Alaska after the deaths.
One of Wagner’s sons, who is also charged, had a daughter with Hanna Rhoden, one of the slaying victims.
Authorities have suggested a custody dispute over the girl as a possible motive for the killings.
A relative says an Ohio child at the center of a custody dispute that may have been the motive in the slaying of eight people is safe.
Leonard Manley is the child’s great-grandfather, and the father and grandfather of Rhoden family members shot to death in 2016 in a rural Ohio community.
Manley, of Pike County, tells the Cincinnati Enquirer his 4-year-old great-granddaughter is in state custody in neighboring Scioto County.
Authorities announced Tuesday that four members of the Wagner family were arrested and charged in the slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family.
The girl is the daughter of 26-year-old Jake Wagner, and Hanna Rhoden, who was 19 when she was shot to death.
Authorities have suggested a custody dispute over the girl led to the massacre.
The relief some officials have about arrests made in the slayings of eight family members is tempered by concerns about the costs associated with holding trials for the suspects in the rural Ohio community.
County Commissioner Blaine Beekman says the county already faces a financial crunch. He says there’s “no book to refer to” on how to accommodate such a complex, high-interest case. He says officials plan to meet with the prosecutor and to reach out to state officials about assistance.
Beekman says officials “certainly want people brought to justice” and feel for the suffering of those who lost loved ones.
He thinks it’s likely the defense will seek to move the trial.
An Ohio man who lost two brothers in a gruesome slaying of eight people says family members are still processing the announcement that arrests were finally made.
Tony Rhoden is the brother of Christopher Rhoden Sr. and Gary Rhoden, who were shot to death in April 2016. He was among family members told by authorities Tuesday that a family of four had been arrested and charged in the killings.
Tony Rhoden tells the Columbus Dispatch the news is “a lot to take in.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that a grand jury indicted four members of the Wagner family on aggravated murder charges. He says they could be sentenced to death if convicted.
DeWine suggested a custody battle between the families played a role in the killings.
Authorities say prosecuting an Ohio family of four arrested in the gruesome slayings of eight people from another family could take years.
Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk says the investigation into the 2016 killings is one of the most complicated and extensive in Ohio’s history.
Junk also says it’s possible that pre-trial publicity could force the case to be moved to another county.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Tuesday a grand jury indicted four members of the Wagner family on aggravated murder charges. He says they could be sentenced to death if convicted.
DeWine gave scant detail about why the victims were killed but said the custody of a young child played a role.