Pike county ohio murders update 2020

An Ohio grandmother accused of helping to cover up the execution-style murders of eight members of the same family in the small rural community of Piketon, Ohio has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Rita Newcomb, 66, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of official business Monday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, local station WXIX-TV reports.

Newcomb had been accused of forging custody documents related to the case and later lying about it to a grand jury and investigators; however, as part of the deal, the forgery and perjury charges filed against her were dropped. In court Monday, Newcomb—who had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges against her—told the judge she had a change of heart.

Jake Wagner and year-old Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims, had shared a child, Sophia. Sophia, who is now 6, had been staying with the Wagners the night of the slayings and wasn't harmed. Those who knew Hanna had described her as a devoted mother. Newcomb had been accused of forging custody documents for both Jake Wagner and his brother George Wagner IV, but in court Monday, prosecutor Angela Canepa said a handwriting expert had determined that Newcomb had not signed the documents herself, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Newcomb admitted to lying to a grand jury and investigators about the documents because her daughter Angela had asked her to, Canepa said. Newcomb is facing a sentence of up to 90 days in jail.

The four members of the Wagner family who have been charged with the Rhoden murders have all pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. Investigators had accused the year-old matriarch of the family of lying to a grand jury about bullet proof vests she'd purchased online. However, the charges against her were dropped this summer, with the prosecution reserving the right to re-file at a later date.

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Digital Original. Rita Newcomb Photo: AP. On the night of April 22, seven members of the Rhoden family and one of the victim's fiancee were killed in a family massacre that shocked Pike County. Pike County Murders.

pike county ohio murders update 2020

Breaking News. The Piketon Family Murders.His officers and state agents spent two years tracking suspects before making arrests. In many ways, Reader represented a new wave of Ohio sheriffs, an energetic group of officers who enjoyed police work and wanted to be on the streets, a contrast to political appointees who wore coats and ties and rarely showed up at a crime scene.

Today, however, Reader is suspended from his duties, a law enforcement officer accused of using his office to commit crimes. Reader would not comment for this story. His attorney, James Boulger, declined to go into detail or discuss evidence, saying the case should be decided in a Pike County courtroom, not in the media.

Reader will be arraigned in the coming weeks in Pike County Common Pleas Court on an count, superseding indictment that prosecutors filed in February. The original charges brought last summer were pending when the new indictment was filed. The new allegations include a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony. Prosecutors have long used the charge as a way to attack organized-crime figures and major drug dealers by seeking long prison sentences and large fines.

In the Pike County case, prosecutors also charged Reader with theft in office, tampering and theft. If convicted, he could be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.

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To some, the accusations against Reader were surprising, as many residents saw him as hardworking and stern, yet personable. He was appointed to the job in May after years in law enforcement.

Nearly a year later, on April 22, eight members of the Rhoden family were found dead in their homes in rural Pike County.

Pike County massacre: First trial date in the massacre of 8 in family

The others were Christopher Sr. In the initial days after the slayings, Reader and then-Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine met with reporters, provided some details and pleaded with the public for information. In NovemberReader and DeWine again addressed reporters, describing how deputies and state agents conducted an investigation that spanned several states and hundreds of interviews.

They announced the arrests of Billy and Angela Wagner and their two sons, Jake and George, on aggravated murder charges. If convicted, the Wagners could be sentenced to death.

They are not likely to go to trial until next year. Authorities said the motive of the slayings stemmed from the custody of a child Jake Wagner and Hanna Rhoden had together.

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Deputies later counted the well-circulated money, a practice they videotaped, according to records prosecutors filed. The seized money was not there. Days after the search, Reader and his attorney provided investigators with files that contained evidence bags and money, records show. The evidence bag appeared to be re-opened and sealed again, the records alleged. Prosecutors accused Reader of taking the money from the seizure and replacing it later, prompting the charges of theft in office and tampering.

The records also said those in attendance were told the vehicle did not have a key, even though the department had the key. Last summer, Reader was suspended as sheriff. He was replaced by James Nelson, a retired police chief. Reader sought to run for sheriff as an independent in November, as he had not been convicted of a crime. He kicked off his campaign earlier this year with a shot at his critics. Reader failed to get enough valid signatures. Nelson, a Democrat, will be unopposed in the November election.

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Ad Choices.Four family members are facing murder charges. Two other relatives are charged with an alleged cover-up of the crime. DeWine said the state and local murder investigation started the morning of April 22,when the bodies of the eight victims were found on three separate properties in rural Pike County.

Since then, they received more than 1, tips from the public, conducted interviews, tested more than pieces of evidence, and served more than search warrants, subpoenas and court orders. Pike County murders investigators want to know. They did this quickly, coldly, calmly and very carefully. But not carefully enough. They left traces, they left a trail. The parts to build a silencer, the forged documents, the cameras, cellphones, all that they tampered with.

And the lies, all the lies they told us. Who are the Wagners, accused of planning and carrying out the murders of the Rhodens in Pike County? All Rights Reserved. By using this website, you accept the terms of our Visitor Agreement and Privacy Policyand understand your options regarding Ad Choices.

Learn about Careers at Cox Enterprises.Their bodies were found later on April Seven of the victims—six adults and a year-old boy—were discovered to have been shot execution-style in three adjacent houses, while the eighth victim, an adult, was found shot to death in his camper in nearby Piketon.

Three young children, including two infants, were left alive during the killings. At least two shooters are believed to be responsible. Investigators believe the murders were premeditated, and that the perpetrators were known to the Rhoden family. On April 25, the Ohio Attorney General 's office confirmed the presence of marijuana growth and cockfighting operations at some of the crime scenes, but did not confirm a direct connection to the killings.

The ensuing investigation soon became the largest in Ohio's history. Edward "Jake" Wagner was an ex-boyfriend of victim Hanna Rhoden and father of her 3-year-old daughter.

The bodies were first discovered on Friday, April 22, after Bobby Jo Manley, [3] a sister of victim Dana Rhoden, came to feed pets at the homes. Her brother, James Manley, went to check on their sister Dana, and discovered the third crime scene, where the police found three more victims when they arrived.

Three young children—ages three, six months, and four days—were unharmed during the shootings, [12] with the four-day-old being found in bed with her mother's body. Seven adults and a year-old were among those slain.

The eight victims were identified as: [3] [4] [16]. The bodies of the victims were taken to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office in Cincinnati, where autopsies found that all but one of the victims were shot multiple times.

Death certificates released on May 28 clarified that six of the eight victims were shot in the head only; Christopher suffered gunshot wounds to the head, torso and limbs, and Dana was shot in the head and neck. Bruising was also found on some of the bodies, indicating the victims were beaten as well.

The offices of the county coroner and the Ohio Attorney General announced that the full final autopsy reports will not be released to the public, citing security concerns. On August 12, a similar lawsuit was filed by The Columbus Dispatch. In both cases, DeWine called for mediation, which attracted criticism and accusations that it was a mere delay tactic. A lawyer representing both newspapers said there was no legal basis for law enforcement's withholding of information from the public.

In a filing on September 6,DeWine responded to The Columbus Dispatch ' s lawsuit against the coroner's office, saying:.

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Public release of information known only to law enforcement and the killer s directly threatens the success of the investigation. Among other consequences, releasing this type of information impedes investigators' ability to separate genuine leads from fake, which wastes resources; makes it difficult to analyze confessions, which are fact-checked against information known only by investigators; and devalues information provided by witnesses who come forward after public release.

Amidst lawsuits by media outlets, the coroner's office released heavily redacted versions of the final reports on September 23, On April 28, Gary Rhoden was the first of the victims to be buried, with his funeral proceedings being held in South ShoreKentucky. Funerals for the remaining victims took place on May 3 at West Portsmouth[25] [26] [27] where there was a high level of security. Ohio Governor and U. Police believe that more than one shooter may be responsible for the killings, since two of the crime scenes were within walking distance, a third located about a mile away, and the fourth about eight miles away.

Investigators briefly considered the possibility of a murder—suicidebut it was discredited as none of the victims' deaths appeared to be suicides. All of the victims were members of the Rhoden family. Surviving family members were urged by police to take precautions, and all residents of Peebles were advised to stay inside their homes the following night.

At least five search warrants were executed, and more than 50 people were interviewed in connection with the killings.

On April 25, a spokesperson for DeWine's office also confirmed that cannabis was discovered at the three crime scenes on Union Hill Road, including an indoor grow house in which hundreds of cannabis plants were being grown, as well as chickens and equipment consistent with breeding chickens for cockfighting. In both cases, police suspected connections to Mexican drug cartels.

On April 26, Dana Rhoden's father, Leonard Manley, stated that the victims knew their killer sciting the presence of Dana's two protective dogs.Editor's note: This story was corrected to reflect Sophia Wagner is in the custody of a family member.

The trials are set to begin this fall, said attorney Robert F. But delays due to the novel coronavirus might interfere with the original intention to begin trying members of the Wagner family this fall.

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Mark C. Collins, Billy Wagner's attorney, said things have been "put on hold. So, that could delay the start of a trial. Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk agreed that things have been "slowed down" by the pandemic.

Collins said the Wagner family attorneys have yet to receive the government's discovery document. The Office declined to provide any further comments, stating that a gag order remains in place in the trials. Please consider a subscription to Cincinnati. The killers spared three young children, who were unharmed.

Hanna's other daughter, Sophia Wagner, is "central" to the dispute between the two familiesprosecutors said, as the child's father is Jake Wagner. The family lived at a Peebles farm in Adams County, Ohio, which they sold in the spring of before moving to Alaska. They are the mothers of Angela and Billy Wagner and the grandmothers of George and Jake Wagner, and are no longer in custody.

April 22, Eight members of the Rhoden family are found shot in the head in their homes, dead. Spring Investigators search the Wagner family's property.

Pike Co. sheriff, face of mass-murder investigation, accused of misappropriating funds: Update

The family is yet to be named as suspects. It appears that Christopher Rhoden Sr.

pike county ohio murders update 2020

The rest of the family members were killed in their sleep. This evidence ultimately leads to the arrest of four members of the Wagner family. Because of Reader's involvement with the Rhoden massacre investigation, criminal justice experts agree that Reader's conviction could pose a serious obstacle to the prosecution of the Wagners.

November Investigators again search Fredericka Wagner's sprawling farm for evidence.

pike county ohio murders update 2020

Felony charges of forgery, perjury and obstructing justice are dismissed. Authorities estimate that investigators have conducted tens of thousands of hours of investigative work, followed more than 1, tips from the public, conducted interviews, tested more than items of evidence and served more than subpoenas, search warrants and court orders. All four members of the Wagner family have pleaded not guilty, according to court records. There are not any hearings currently scheduled for George Wagner, according to the Attorney General's office.

Krapenc, Angela's attorney, said it's become a "wait and see" scenario as to when the cases will go to trial. But, you know, unfortunately a lot of it is out of my control.

Junk said these cases hold the largest amount of evidence he's dealt with in his career. It's going to take time to go to trial, he said. Madeline Mitchell Cincinnati Enquirer.Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about.

7 mysteries from the Pike County family massacre

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Guilty plea connected to Pike County family massacre

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Eight members of one family, the Rhodens, were killed in their Piketon, Ohio homes in April of Their bodies were discovered by other family members. The victims in the attack where: Christopher Rhoden, Sr.

Also among the victims were Frankie Rhoden's fiancee Hannah Gilley. Police arrested four members of the Wagner family in November Police charged them with planning and carrying out the murders of the eight Rhoden family members.

All of them have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Before the arrests, several members of the Wagner family moved to Alaska. They returned to Pike County earlier in Authorities haven't completely disclosed the alleged motivation in the crime, but they have said a child custody battle may have played a role. The first trial dates related to the case have now been set. Prosecutors allege Fredericka Wagner attempted to help cover the family's alleged involvement in the murders. Help the Chillicothe Gazette continue to provide in-depth reporting like this.Rita Jo Newcomb, mother of one of the defendants in the Pike County massacre, entered into a plea deal with prosecution during a hearing Monday afternoon.

Newcomb, 66, was initially charged with perjury, obstructing justice and forgery to protect her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons charged in the murders of eight members of the Rhoden family in In court on Monday, Newcomb agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of official business, while the state agreed to drop the forgery and perjury charges. They have all pleaded not guilty. The state said that its own handwriting expert has analyzed that Newcomb's signature on custody documents tied to the murder investigation was not actually her signature.

She was initially implicated in forging and notarizing custody documents for the son of Jake Wagner and Hanna Rhoden.

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Jake Wagner currently stands accused of murder in connection with the case; Hanna was counted among the dead, while her child was found alive. Then-attorney general Mike DeWine said he believed custody and control of the child was the motive for the murders, following the arrest of the Wagner family members. Obstruction of official business is a second degree misdemeanor, drawing a maximum jail sentence of 90 days. A sentencing date for Newcomb hasn't been set yet, but she was released from house arrest following the plea agreement.

She has still been instructed to have no contact with any members of the Rhoden family, or any of her own family members charged in the case. Newcomb was originally supposed to begin her trial on November 18; the trial was delayed suddenly and postponed pending Monday afternoon's hearing.

pike county ohio murders update 2020

Her charges stemmed from reportedly lying to a grand jury and forging custody documents. In subsequent hearings, she's been warned against aiding the legal defense of four members of the Wagner family charged with the murders after a judge issued a no-contact order.

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News Crime. Actions Facebook Tweet Email. Pike County grandmother enters plea deal in massacre case. By: WCPO staff. Copyright Scripps Media, Inc.

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