WAVERLY, Ohio — The first trial in the execution-style killings of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families in 2016 has been scheduled for August, but a new podcast is shedding new light on everyone involved in the story that has captured the nation's attention.
"It's about the most horrific crime in American history, it's right up there," said David Raterman, an Elder High School and Ohio University alumnus.
Raterman has spent years researching, writing, and now hosting a new podcast from Cavalry Audio and iHeartMedia called "The Pink Moon Murders," which is releasing new episodes every Tuesday this winter.
"This reporting is so in-depth, there's about 9 episodes that average 40 minutes each," Raterman said. "With all those hours, there's a lot of material in there."
Raterman said he spent around 100 nights staying in the areas around where the crime occurred in Pike, Scioto, Ross and Adams Counties.
Jake Wagner, 28, pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder on the fifth anniversary of the massacre in April 2021.
Wagner, along with his mother, Angela Wagner; his father, George "Billy" Wagner III; and his brother, George Wagner IV, are charged in the deaths of 19-year-old Hanna May Rhoden; her parents, Dana Rhoden and Christopher Rhoden Sr.; her uncle, Kenneth Rhoden; her father's cousin, Gary Rhoden; her 16-year-old brother, Christopher Rhoden Jr; her 20-year-old brother, Clarence Rhoden; and Clarence's fiancee, 20-year-old Hanna Hazel Gilley. All eight were shot to death while they slept.
Hanna May Rhoden was the mother of a toddler she had with Jake Wagner and had given birth to another child with a different father four days before her death. Hanna Hazel Gilley had a child who was less than a year old.
"Good old-fashioned jealousy I think did play a part in this," Raterman said. "Jealousy and violence over jealous go back to Shakespeare and the Bible — this is as old as humanity."
All three children were spared. According to prosecutors, they were the reason the Wagners had attacked. Raterman said his interviews with family, friends and those close to the case unveiled new details about everyone involved, which are revealed throughout the podcast.
"A couple of [the Wagners] are not exactly who we thought they were," he said. "They are, but there are a couple of surprises in there about their backgrounds."
And his research uncovered chilling new images of the family members together, including a Piketon High School yearbook photo of Hannah Rhoden and an unnamed date at the 2012 Homecoming dance.
"I recognized who the person was, it was Jake Wagner," Raterman said. "That's the only photo where you see two serious people and they're not touching, which at a dance young couples do, so that stood out to me."
You can listen to "The Pink Moon Murders" anywhere you get podcasts, including on YouTube. The first episode is embedded below.
The fourth episode was released Tuesday, March 8.