What to know about the Pike County Massacre: Trial delayed due to illness.
More than six years have passed since the murder of an entire family in Pike County.
An earlier lawsuit and a trickle of other information point to what will likely be important in the ongoing trial of George Wagner IV.
Opening statements for the trial – where Wagner IV faces eight counts of aggravated murder and other charges in the death of the Pike County Rhoden family – are now set for this Monday, delayed six days in reason for the illness of one of the parties in the case.
Cincinnati attorney and former Hamilton County prosecutor Mike Allen, who has followed the Rhoden case from the start, made some comments about resuming.
- The lawyers’ opening statements will take all of Monday morning and possibly longer. The prosecution team will first present the status of the Ohio case against Wagner IV. “Something as complicated as that – I’d say a few hours,” Allen said.
- The lawyers will lay out what awaits them on Day 1. “Here’s the problem with an opening statement: the lawyers refer to it as a roadmap for the jury. You state what you think the testimonies and evidence will show.
- The first witnesses in the case could appear after lunch. “For the sake of continuity, you want it to flow,” Allen said. Given the number of probable witnesses – there are 264 on the prosecution’s list, even if not all of them will be called – the judge will want to move the case forward as quickly as possible.
- Wagner’s attorneys hinted at their strategy by questioning potential jurors about family dynamics. “They’re trying to plant a seed with the jurors,” he said.
- The court was smart to sit six alternate jurors. If one of the 12 selected for the panel falls ill, alternates can step in.
- The one-week delay in the matter is regrettable and embarrassing, but of little consequence. Given the long lead up to trial, both sides are ready. “They won’t miss a beat,” Allen said.
Here’s a summary of major developments since seven Rhodens and a future family member were gunned down on the night of April 21-22, 2016, kicking off Ohio’s largest-ever criminal investigation.
Pike County, 3: ‘I grabbed dad’s hand and it fell off’
One of the surviving children after the murders was 3-year-old Brentley Rhoden, who opened the door to the discovery of one of the horrific scenes in the largest homicide investigation in Ohio history.
“Just one a few weeks ago while driving down Union Hill Road, Brentley told his mother that he had seen his father. He was in heaven following them.
“‘Didn’t she see him, the 4-year-old asked his mum.’Hasn’t she seen him?‘”
Six caskets, 36 pallbearers and the tears of an undertaker
Funeral director Scott Davis in West Portsmouth was responsible for preparing the Rhoden family’s final farewell. It was a task that few in his profession would face.
“He’ll straighten a tie, push a stray hair from a face, adjust hands. He will run a lint roller over the clothes one last time. Then he will pat the chest, very gently. And go to the next coffin. And the next.”
From matriarch Rhoden, the sound of sorrow
Geneva Rhoden’s grief was incomprehensible over the loss of two adult sons, a daughter-in-law and three of her grandchildren.
“Reverend Ernie Melvin summoned faith and family strength and comfort. That is to say, he promised the nearly 500 people attending the Rhoden family services what would see them through what seems like an impassable mountain of grief.
“’You look out this morning with tears in people’s eyes, broken hearts,’ Melvin said during the service that lasted just over half an hour. to pull oneself together, to lean on another. To find strength in each other… We have to help each other on this. We have to lift each other up.'”
Death scenes slowly parade on Ohio highways
In an effort to preserve evidence, investigators decided it was necessary to bring the trailers where the murders took place to a secure facility. It was a rare move and did not go smoothly. There were punctures and eventually the houses had to be moved a second time to another facility.
“Two trailers and a motorhome, every window and door is covered with plywood, traveled two hours 22 miles, first east on Ohio Route 32, then north on US Route 23 to the compounding property in Waverly. This is where the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Pike County Sheriff’s Investigators set up their command center in an effort to catch the killer(s).
Moving three crime scenes, even those with wheels, is not a simple process. At one point, the convoy stopped on the shoulder of Route 32 eastbound. A driver of one of the trucks was seen rolling a tire on the back of the mobile home he was transporting.
Rhoden family massacre: Wagner family tries to create new home in Alaska amid rumors
Up and out. The Wagner family traced its roots to Pike County and moved to Kanai, Alaska in what Edward “Jake” Wagner said was an effort to avoid undue attention on his family. They would eventually return to Ohio.
“News of the Wagners’ move quickly traveled the airwaves and newspapers in Alaska.. The internet, while glacially slow here, has buzzed with speculation, particularly on several Facebook pages that track crime and safety issues in this town of 7,600.
Inside the Rhoden investigation: Scientists work with the cops
London, Ohio is probably not a place many Ohioans can place on a map, but it is where operations of the largest homicide investigation in the history of Ohio would begin. the state.
“‘I walked into the room and there were five analysts sitting there with their laptops capturing data,’ Thomas Stickrath, the superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said of the community center’s transformation into a makeshift command center where an army of cops, doctors forensic scientists and analysts set out that day to catch the killers.
He saw officers from the bureau’s cybercrime, narcotics and special investigations units. In all, up to 14 crime scene investigators collected evidence from crime scenes.”
Pike County: A Rhoden Family Story
The history of the Rhoden family was complex before this tragedy. A surviving member described the path taken by the family until the April 2016 murders.
“One Saturday in the Spring of 1984, Steven Rhodenthe little brother with whom Tony shared secrets and a room, has disappeared.
The sheriff assembled a search party. But as darkness set in, no one could find the 14-year-old girl with green eyes and sandy blonde hair.”
Massacre of the Rhoden family: without response, the family marks time
Shutting down in a case of this nature is a “mistake” as one expert put it. Time passed and the family waited for answers as investigators continued their work. Finally, indictments. But before these developments, the survivors had grief and questions aplenty.
“Unmarked plot of land has sunk and shifted in places since the Rhoden family was laid to rest at Scioto Burial Park in the town of McDermott at the beginning of last May. Like these graves, nothing is settled a year after the Rhoden family massacre, a case that captured international headlines and focused on this region of Appalachia for weeks last spring.”
Two years after the Pike County murders, the surviving child lives in fear. “He is trapped by this”
He opened the door the morning after the murders as a little boy and will live with the experience all his life. Brentley Rhoden was sleeping on a couch when his aunt knocked on the door.
“As Robinson explains his son’s life, he plays Fortnite video game. His character swings an axe, smashing through walls. ‘Fear has it. He is trapped behind.
The little boy’s mother is trying to dig him up.
The two stopped talking about what had happened. Brentley’s last nightmare about death was after their last conversation about that night.”
Rhoden Family Murders: First Pike County Murder Trial Underway This Week (Editor’s note: Trial has been delayed)
Due to an illness of one of the parties involved in the case, the trial was delayed.
“The lawsuit is long overdue in this corner of rural southern Ohio. The murders sent shockwaves across the state and beyond, with intense attention from the media, podcasters, authors and filmmakers.
The victims were all related, by blood or otherwise, living in four different homes in Pike County.”
Jurors visit the scenes of the Rhoden family murders
The seated jurors’ first task was to take a bus ride to various scenes relevant to the case they would be considering. It started with visits to various crime scenes.
“Start their day at Pike County Common Pleas Court – where Judge Randy Deering asked them to be sworn in – 12 jurors and six alternate jurors boarded a yellow school bus to tour crime scenes relevant to the Wagner case.
Deering said the tour, called a “jury view,” will help jurors better understand the evidence they will see or hear in a trial that is expected to last six to eight weeks. But he reminded jurors that they can only judge Wagner’s guilt or lack thereof by the evidence the State of Ohio presents against him.”
Pike County murder trial delayed by illness
As mentioned earlier, a motion has been filed and mutually agreed to by the prosecution and defense for a prosecution to be granted in the trial due to illness with one of the main parties involved in the affair.
The 2016 Pike County massacre judge granted on Monday a request for a postponement of proceedings for a week “due to the illness of a person involved in the trial”.
The court filing indicates that attorneys for Wagner and the State of Ohio agreed to the delay.