Pike County murder trial: Ex-wife of George Wagner IV returns to stand today; watch live

WAVERLY — George Wagner IV’s ex-wife, Tabitha, will resume testimony today. George is accused of killing eight people in Pike County in 2016.

George — along with his mother Angela, father George “Billy” Wagner and brother Edward “Jake” Wagner — is accused of shooting and killing the Rhoden family members “execution-style.” The family’s bodies were found on April 22, 2016. He faces eight charges of aggravated murder, along with other charges associated with tampering with evidence, conspiracy and forgery.


NOTE: Camera and audio may occasionally drop during the stream. Per judge’s order, witnesses may opt out of being recorded during this trial.

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.

The trial is the first time a person has faced a jury for the deaths of the Rhoden family six years ago.

Tabitha Claytor, George’s ex-wife, was called to the witness stand on Monday afternoon and told the jury about how the two met, married and had a child together — and the environment that existed within the Wagner family home.

She met George when she was around 12 years old, she said, because her mother worked at a group home owned by George’s grandmother, Fredericka Wagner. She would occasionally go to work with her mother, or to Fredericka’s house, and she and her sister spent time with Jake Wagner and George, who are brothers. The pair began dating, she said, and George’s parents Angela and Billy would come to pick her up from her house to spend time with him. A year after they began dating, Claytor said George cut the relationship off.

Six years later, during her senior year in high school, she received a Facebook message from Hanna May, who explained she was dating Jake and wanted George and Claytor to re-connect. Not long after, she said she received a friend request from George and the two began speaking again.

Two months later, she moved in with the Wagner family. A year after they resumed dating, they got married and eight months after that, she gave birth to their son, Bulvine.

While Hanna May was able to occasionally leave to spend time with her mother, Claytor said the Wagners didn’t allow her to leave the home to visit family, nor did they approve of her family coming to their home to see her. When Claytor went to the hospital to give birth, she said her family was not allowed to come — only George and Angela came along.

“Did you want your mother at the hospital?” asked Canepa.

“Yes, I did,” Claytor said.

Angela was the rule maker in the home, she said, and Angela decided who came and went in the house and when. She also dictated how chores, like cooking, cleaning and laundry, had to be done.

“It was Angela’s house so it was her rules ... It all had to be done the way that she wanted it or you had to either redo it or she’d just do it herself,” Claytor said.

Angela also had rules about the sexual interactions she could have with her husband, she said.

She and George were told that oral intercourse would send them to hell and that sex was only for procreation.

Each night, Claytor said she was forced to leave the bedroom she shared with her husband for a time.

“Towards the end of the night she would usually have me leave so she could sit there and scratch his back and talk about the day,” she said.

After that, she was allowed to return to her bedroom, she said. After Bulvine was born, George moved out of the bedroom and into his parents room, she said. Prosecution asked who decided that would happen and Claytor said it was both George and Angela.

When Hanna May moved in with the family, Claytor said they didn’t get along.

“We both were basically competing for Angela’s approval,” she said.

That approval never came for Claytor, she said; Angela would constantly tell her she was falling short and could never do much of anything right. Angela also accused her of stealing $400. Later, Claytor said, after the Wagners were arrested, her then-5-year-old son was able to move back in with her and told her Angela had also claimed Claytor poisoned them and was responsible for murdering the Rhodens.

While she lived with the Wagners, their home on Bethel Hill Road burned down; Claytor said the fire was intentional.

“Before it had burnt, we had moved the stuff we didn’t want burnt from the house to a garage-type cabin that was on the property,” she said.

They moved beds, dressers, clothing, deer heads, photographs, gun safes and guns to the shed before torching the home to collect insurance money, she said.

“The insurance company needed proof that we had the stuff in the house that we said we had in there, so to get that proof, Angela went and bought receipt books and we wrote out receipts for stuff that looked like it may have been in the house,” said Claytor.

The family then purchased a new home with the insurance money and put the property in George and Jake’s names, she said.

By that time, she said Hanna May was also living with the family most of the time.

Court broke for the day around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

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