Angela Wagner pleads guilty to conspiracy in 2016 Pike County massacre

Angela Wagner pleaded guilty Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, to conspiring to commit aggravated murder in the 2016 slayings of eight people. WCPO-TV
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Angela Wagner pleaded guilty Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, to conspiring to commit aggravated murder in the 2016 slayings of eight people. WCPO-TV

Credit: WCPO-TV

Credit: WCPO-TV

A Pike County woman admitted Friday that she had conspired to commit aggravated murder in the 2016 slayings of eight people, including the mother of her own granddaughter.

Angela Wagner, who prosecutors accused of helping her sons and husband stalk and kill the victims, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, forgery, unauthorized use of property and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance.

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Prosecutors agreed to drop eight charges of aggravated murder in exchange for her plea and recommended 30 years in prison with no early release.

Wagner’s son, Edward “Jake” Wagner, pleaded guilty in April to all eight murders — that of his former girlfriend Hanna May Rhoden, with whom he had a child, and seven members of her extended family, all killed in one night and discovered dead the morning of April 22, 2016.

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In his plea, Wagner said he, his brother and his parents had conspired to kill them, spied on them beforehand, tampered with evidence and obstructed the years-long search for their killers. Prosecutors believe the crimes were motivated by a custody dispute between Jake Wagner and Hanna May Rhoden, whom Jake and his family had attempted to pressure into signing an unfavorable custody agreement over their daughter.

Rhoden wrote in one Facebook message, later produced as evidence: “(I’ll) never sign papers ever. They will have to kill me first.”

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Ohio Attorney Gen. Dave Yost issued a statement Friday evening following the plea agreement filed in Angela Wagner’s case:

“Our society reveres mothers for taking care of their children and teaching them to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. But by actively plotting the murder of an entire family and encouraging her own kids to carry out the violence, Angela Wagner abjectly failed in her responsibilities.”