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George Wagner IV sentenced to life without parole for Pike County murders

George Wagner IV testifying during Pike County murder trial 11-16-22.jpg
Law & Crime Channel
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George Wagner IV was convicted in the fatal shootings of eight members of the Rhoden family in 2016.

The man convicted of eight counts of murder for a 2016 massacre in Pike County has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Judge Randy Deering sentenced George Wagner IV to life without parole for each of the killings. Last month, a jury convicted Wagner of eight counts of aggravated murder for the killings of several members of the Rhoden family.

Wagner’s mother, Angela, and brother, Jake, testified against him, telling the court that they plotted to kill Hannah Rhoden over a custody dispute, and then killed other family members so they couldn’t be witnesses.

Andrew Shoemaker Carver is the mother of Hannah Hazel Gilley, another victim. Shoemaker Carver read a victim's impact statement just before sentencing. She said she wanted George Wagner to be put to death, but with that off the table, she urged the judge to issue a sentence of life without parole.

“Hannah was such an innocent young lady. A great mother to two beautiful girls,” Carver said. "My heart is forever broken."

Also speaking in court Monday was April Manley, the sister-in-law of victim Dana Rhoden.

"There's a special place in hell for you and your entire family," Manley said. "I hope your life is long and miserable. I hope you think of my family and what you have done every day for the rest of your miserable existence."

Wagner was found guilty on all counts, including eight counts of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, conspiracy, tampering with evidence and forgery.

In addition to the life sentence, Wagner was also sentenced to 121 years, with 81 of them being mandatory, for being convicted on the burglary, conspiracy, tampering with evidence and forgery charges.

It was previously ruled that the death penalty would not be considered if Wagner was convicted on the murder charges.

George and Jake's father, Billy Wagner, will also stand trial on the same 22 counts.

George Wagner maintained his innocence throughout the trial. During closing arguments, defense attorney John Parker said his client had no reason to take part in the murders, despite testimony from Wagner’s mother and brother claiming George was involved.

Wagner's mother and brother have already pleaded guilty to several charges in the case.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.