NewsOhio News


'A little bit of peace': Rhoden family speaks after guilty verdict in Pike County murder trial

Wagner trial verdict reaction Tony Rhoden
Posted at 9:32 AM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 09:32:17-05

WAVERLY, Ohio — Just minutes after a jury found George Wagner IV guilty of murdering eight members of the Rhoden family, Tony Rhoden said he "(feels) sorry for him."

"We are glad that (the guilty verdict) did come back, but you have to realize George Wagner is human — they just didn't show it that night," Rhoden said.

Wagner was found guilty of eight counts of aggravated murder, along with 14 other charges associated with conspiracy, forgery and tampering with evidence in connection to the "execution-style" murder of the Rhoden family in April 2016.

Found dead that day were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr., 37-year-old Dana Rhoden, 20-year-old Hannah "Hazel" Gilley, 16-year-old Christopher Rhoden Jr., 20-year-old Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 37-year-old Gary Rhoden, 19-year-old Hanna May Rhoden and 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden.

Pike County Rhoden family murder victims
(Left to right, top to bottom) Dana and Chris Rhoden Sr.; Frankie Rhoden and Hannah Hazel Gilley; Hanna May Rhoden; Chris Rhoden Jr.; Kenneth Rhoden; and Gary Rhoden

"They were human beings. They were human beings. They're gone. Nothing we can do on this Earth will ever bring them back," Rhoden said.

TIMELINE | A full history of the Pike County murders

When the verdict was announced, Tony Rhoden and other members of the family embraced, several of them crying.

"A little bit of peace," Rhoden said. "We still have a long road to go, but we'll get there because we are family."

Wagner trial verdict reaction Rhoden family
George Wagner IV was convicted on all 22 counts, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 in Pike County Common Pleas court. Family packed the courtroom as Judge Randy Deering read each guilty verdict. George Wagner IV faced eight counts of aggravated murder and 14 other charges in the eight shooting deaths of Pike County's Rhoden family in 2016. His mom, Angela Wagner and brother, Jake Wagner, have already pleaded guilty. His dad, Billy Wagner will go on trial next year.

Wagner's mother and brother, Angela and Edward "Jake" Wagner, both accepted plea deals from the prosecution in exchange for guilty pleas. His father, George "Billy" Wagner, has maintained his plea of not guilty and his trial is scheduled for 2023.

Both Angela and Jake Wagner testified against him during the trial. At one point, Jake Wagner was seen mouthing "I'm sorry" to the Rhoden family while on the stand.

"Sorry for what?" Rhoden said. "Fell on deaf ears."

Ultimately, jurors decided George was guilty despite having never fired a shot that night. Ohio law states that anyone complicit in the execution of a crime can be found guilty for the crime itself, regardless of the amount of participation. Rhoden thanked the jury for their verdict, noting how difficult of a trial it was.

"We're one step closer," said Rhoden.

'They should have death given to them,' George said should be fate of Rhoden killers
'I felt I had no other choice than to kill Hanna,' Jake Wagner told jury
Jake Wagner 'could not bear to think' or speak about his crimes after the murders