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Pike County massacre evidence list shows how investigators closed in on suspects

Pike County trailer search
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 24, 2019

WAVERLY, Ohio — Investigators interviewed Edward "Jake" Wagner just three weeks after eight members of the Rhoden family were found dead in rural Pike County, new court documents show.

The list of discovery provided to defense attorneys for Jake's dad, George "Billy" Wagner III, provides new insight into how investigators worked the case and closed in on the suspects who now stand charged with eight counts of aggravated murder and other crimes in the Pike County massacre.

Angela Wagner, who is Jake's mom and married to Billy, and George Wagner IV, who is Jake's brother, are also charged with the crimes. The discovery list shows that investigators interviewed Billy in September 2016 and Angela in October 2016. It was that month that Sheriff Charles Reader told WCPO that he believed the killers were locals, and not members of an international drug cartel as some had speculated. Then, investigators spoke to Jake again in April of 2017, and followed that up the next month with a series of interviews with all four of the suspects.

Those interviews in May of 2017 came before and after investigators searched multiple properties in Pike and Adams counties, digging through trailers owned by the Wagners and scanning land they owned with metal detectors. Those interviews were also done the month before authorities announced they were looking for information about the Wagners, who had then moved to Alaska.

MORE: Jake Wagner asks to appear in court without restraints

In addition to recordings of 13 interviews, prosecutors have turned over hundreds of photos and a 3D scan from each scene, as well as diagrams showing ballistic, biological and other evidence; more than 100 aerial photos; autopsy reports and X-rays of all eight victims; photos of a child of one of the victims taken at the hospital the day of the killings; photos from a property searched by investigators, including a photo of a burnt VCR and items found in a well; cell tower records; a "Boondock Saints" video clip; custody messages; Facebook screenshots; photos from other searches performed by investigators; a photo of George Wagner's tattoo; a gun list; a Walmart receipt and more.

Altogether, that's more than 5,000 pages of evidence so far, plus the videos, audio files and 3D scans. Mark Collins, Billy Wagner's defense attorney, previously said it was 30 GB of digital material, and just the "first chunk" of what they're expecting from prosecutors.

The longest list of provided discovery was filed alongside 41 motions from Billy Wagner's defense, asking for items like names of grand jury witnesses, for capital components of the case to be dismissed and for Billy to be able to appear at hearings in civilian clothes and without physical restrains.

Shorter discovery lists were also filed for George Wagner IV and Jake Wagner, who appeared in court for a pretrial hearing Thursday.

All four suspects charged with the Rhodens' deaths are being held without bond.

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