Where Are Jake Wagner and George Wagner IV Now?

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The Pike County Shootings, or Pike County Massacre, occurred in late April 2016 when eight Rhoden family members were shot and killed in Pike County, Ohio. The murders — believed to be premeditated and involving known perpetrators — led to the arrest of four Wagner family members in November 2018. Oxygen’s ‘The Pike County Murders: A Family Massacre’ decodes one of the most complex homicide investigations in Ohio history. It leaves the viewers wondering what happened to the two main convicts — brothers, Jake and George Wagner.

What Happened to Jake Wagner and George Wagner IV?

The youngest suspect in the execution-style killings of an Ohio family, Edward “Jake” Wagner, changed his plea to guilty on the fifth anniversary of the investigation. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated murder and 15 other charges, including gun specifications, conspiracy, burglary, possession of dangerous ordnance, and tampering with evidence in late April 2021. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the death penalty possibility against the Wagner family, and Jake agreed to eight life sentences without parole.

His guilty plea included acting as the state’s prime witness against his father, mother, and brother, who are also charged with aggravated murder. While testifying against his brother, George W. Wagner IV, during his late 2022 trial, Jake recalled how he had learned about criminal activities from his father, George “Billy” Wagner III, from a very young age. He alleged that his mother, Angela Wagner, home-schooled him and filled out his test papers instead of him. Jake added, “I wasn’t doing that crap. I didn’t need it. I was a truck driver and farmer.”

According to his testimony, Jake, then 17, met one of the victims, Hanna May Rhoden, then 13, at the 2010 Pike County Fair in the 4-H Barn. He eventually sought permission from Hanna’s parents to date her. In the initial years of their relationship, one of her brothers was always present. However, by the time Hanna turned 15, she was pregnant, and they named their daughter Sophia, affectionately calling her Sophie. The court learned how Hanna broke up with Jake in 2015 against his wishes and dated other men, even carrying one of their children.

While he denied allegations of choking Hanna, Jake conceded to intervening when he thought she was “lazy.” He testified, “I never choked her. Once, I threw my right shoulder against her and held her up against the barn.” However, Jake was concerned when she started seeing other men while stalling their daughter’s custodial agreement. He claimed Sophie told her that Hanna allegedly locked her in the bedroom for hours, making him worry that their daughter might be molested. Jake also alleged Sophie pleaded not to take her to her mother.

According to Jake, his mother, Angela, stalked George’s former wife’s social media accounts and learned Hanna did not plan on giving Jake custody of their daughter. He disclosed that Hanna’s Facebook message and their argument about their daughter’s safety were the tipping points that led him to decide to kill her. He testified, “I had no choice. I decided to kill Hanna. If I didn’t do something, Sophie would be harmed.”  Seeking guidance from his father, Jake claimed Bill stated the only solution to their issues with Hanna was to kill her.

The initial plan was to kill 19-year-old Hanna; her father, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; her uncle, Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and her older brother, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20. However, the plot slowly expanded to include the other victims as well — Hanna’s mother, Dana Lynn (née Manley) Rhoden, 37; Christopher’s cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38; Frankie’s fiance, Hannah “Hazel” Gilley, 20; and Hanna’s younger brother, Chris Rhoden Jr., 16. They were deemed potential witnesses, with Billy taking charge of the planning.

Jake’s role involved acquiring a nondescript vehicle to avoid linking it to the Wagners. Both George and his brother altered their appearances, dyeing their hair, while a comprehensive list of firearms owned by the Wagners was displayed. The designated murder weapons — an SKS semi-automatic rifle, a .40-caliber Glock 22 semi-automatic pistol, and a Walther Colt 1911 .22-caliber pistol — were highlighted. Jake and George modified the pickup truck the former purchased for the attack, creating a concealed space for George.

On April 21, 2016, Billy, George, and Jake carried out their murderous plan at the Rhodens’ trailers around 4:30 am. Angela stayed home with George’s son and Jake’s daughter, though she knew and participated in the plan. The operation was strategically executed on a cloudy night to evade satellite detection, and they waited for Hanna’s baby to be born before proceeding, which happened five days before the victims were discovered on April 22. Though the Wagners killed all the adults, they spared the lives of the three infants in the trailers.

Jake Wagner and George Wagner IV Sent to Maximum Security Prison

During George’s trial, the jurors learned extensive information about the Wagner family’s financial affairs. Michael Kaizar, a BCI forensics accountant, scrutinized 17 bank accounts and numerous pages of statements. The Wagners utilized accounts in their sons’ names for household expenses, with the law enforcement agent noting over $100,000 in transfers between accounts over three and a half years. The pattern raised suspicions similar to those in criminal organizations, indicating a coordinated group effort despite separate account names.

While pleading guilty to all 23 murder-related charges on April 22, 2021, Jake mouthed an apology to the Rhoden family representatives in court. His charges included eight counts of aggravated murder, felony conspiracy, four counts of aggravated burglary, unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance, multiple counts of tampering with evidence, forgery, unauthorized use of property, interception of wire, oral communications, obstruction of justice, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

However, Jake admitted to shooting five of the eight victims, with it being unclear at the moment about who killed the remaining three. He was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole in September 2021. It remains unclear where Jake, now 31, is serving his sentence since his name is not on the current prison roster in Ohio. He is likely incarcerated at some maximum security prison in another state. George was found guilty of all 22 charges on November 22, 2022, including eight counts of aggravated murder.

The judge ordered him to serve eight consecutive life sentences plus 121 more years on December 19, 2022. One of George’s lawyers claimed that their client was apologetic toward the victims’ families after the sentencing. The defense counsel added, “He is absolutely sorry for the loss of the members of the families. Feels horrible for those folks, but he maintains his innocence.” According to reports, George, 32, was transferred to a maximum security prison in Rhode Island in late June 2023, though the authorities have refused to cite any reasons for the move.

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