Authorities searched trailers of Pike County massacre victim's ex-boyfriend

Posted at 6:02 PM, May 15, 2017

PEEBLES, Ohio -- Authorities searching for evidence in the Pike County massacre took away a trailer belonging to the family of a man who had been in a custody dispute with one of the victims.

Bernie Brown, who owns the state Route 41 site visited by investigators during their search for evidence Friday and Saturday, said authorities searched two large trailers and took one smaller utility trailer owned by the Wagners, a local family. Brown said Jake Wagner sometimes works for him fixing cars, and that the Wagners had dropped items off at the property about a week earlier.

Franklin County Sheriff's spokesperson Marc Gofstein said Saturday that authorities had been searching for evidence in the killings of eight members of the Rhoden family last year.

Investigators have been working the case for more than a year, but have never named any suspects. Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader previously told WCPO he believes the killers are locals.

Jake Wagner was in a custody dispute with Hanna Rhoden, one of the victims, according to Leonard Manley, her grandfather. The girl at the center of the custody dispute was not at any of the locations where the massacre occurred, Manley said, though several young children were found alive.

In addition to Brown's property, authorities also searched on Friday a Peterson Road property owned by Jake and George Wagner, according to county property records. Online listings indicate that property was sold in March. Investigators combed the grounds with shovels and metal detectors.

Saturday, authorities also searched the Flying W Farm in Pike County. Fredericka Wagner, who is Jake Wagner's grandmother and the owner of the farm with her husband George according to county property records, said she could not talk to a reporter who contacted her on Monday.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader both declined to answer questions about the investigation related to the searches Monday.