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A man pleaded guilty Thursday in the murders of his child’s mother and seven members of her family in 2016 – a grisly crime that spread terror across their rural Ohio community and stirred rumors of drug dealers and hit men before authorities concluded it stemmed from a custody dispute.

Ohio Family Killed
This Nov. 27, 2018 file photo shows Edward “Jake” Wagner entering the courtroom for arraignment in front of Judge Randy Deering at the Pike County Courthouse in Waverly, Ohio. ROBERT MCGRAW / AP

On the fifth anniversary of the slayings, Edward “Jake” Wagner pleaded guilty to 23 counts in southern Ohio’s Pike County in a deal with prosecutors that spares him from being sentenced to death. He agreed to cooperate in the cases against his parents and brother, who are also charged in the Rhoden family slayings of seven adults and a teenage boy.

“I am guilty, your honor,” Wagner calmly told the judge again and again, as Judge Randy Deering read each count aloud. The charges included eight counts of aggravated murder, as well as charges of conspiracy, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and other counts.

Wagner admitted he was personally responsible for five of the deaths, special prosecutor Angela Canepa said. He gave prosecutors a full account of what happened that morning, along with information that led to them to additional evidence. She did not say what that evidence was.

Wagner, 28, said in court that he is “deeply and very sorry.” He wasn’t immediately sentenced, but his lawyers said he understands he faces a lifetime behind bars.

“He knows he’s going to die in prison without any judicial release. As horrifying as this is for all, he is as sorry as he could be,” defense attorney Gregory Meyers told the judge.

The killings in April 2016 – at three trailers and a camper near Piketon – terrified residents in the surrounding rural community and prompted one of the most extensive criminal investigations in state history. It took authorities more than two years to announce the arrests.

George Billy Wagner III, Angela Wagner and their son George Billy Wagner IV have pleaded not guilty.

The victims were 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna, the mother of Jake Wagner’s child; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden.

Ohio shooting victims
Ohio shooting victims Top, from left: Hannah Gilley, Frankie Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden Jr., Hanna May RhodenBottom, from left: Dana Rhoden, Kenneth Rhoden, Gary Rhoden, and Christopher Rhoden Sr. CBS NEWS

Prosecutors alleged the Wagner family planned the killings for months, motivated by a custody dispute. According to Canepa, Jake Wagner tried to convince Hanna Rhoden to agree to shared custody of their daughter and she refused. Wagner was able to gain access to two Facebook accounts and found a post from Hanna saying she would never agree to those terms.

Jake Wagner began dating Hanna Rhoden when she was 13. She became pregnant when she was 15, Canepa said.

The family after the slayings were questioned by authorities at the U.S.-Canadian border, where a laptop was seized. Forged documents were found on the computer purporting that Hanna Rhoden had agreed to shared custody.

The Wagners took phones from six of the victims, as well as a recording device and trail cameras, Canepa said.

The Wagners used guns with two homemade silencers, allowing them to kill their victims as they slept, Canepa said. Parts from a failed effort to build a silencer were found on the Wagners’ property, she said.

Most of the victims were repeatedly shot in the head, and some showed signs of bruising. Three young children at the scenes, including Jake Wagner’s child, were unharmed.

According to Canepa, shell casings found at the Wagners’ home matched those found at the murder scenes. Investigators also found a shoe of the same size and tread that matched a shoe print found a the scene.

A relative, Tony Rhoden Sr., has sued the suspects, saying he wanted to be sure none of them benefitted financially from the slayings.

One of his lawyers, Brian K. Duncan, said by email that the family “is grateful for today’s outcome, as it provides at least some semblance of justice on this day which coincides with the fifth anniversary of these tragic events.”

CBS News

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Giants vs. Cowboys Thanksgiving Day Game Makes History With 42 Million Viewers

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The football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set a record. It was the most-watched NFL regular-season game on network television in NFL history.

The Cowboys defeated the Giants with a 28-20 victory.

Besides just the usual tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving, there are other reasons why this game was so popular.

First, the Cowboys and Giants are popular teams whose cities hold the No.1 and No. 5 media markets in the U.S.

The game also showed two 7-3 teams visibly in the playoff possibilities. The Giants are in the first year of rebuilding under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. However, they started the season off surprisingly and have won games against division leaders, the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

At the same, the Cowboys are doing well, being said to have the No. 1 scoring defense. Linebacker Micah Parsons is leading with 12 sacks himself.

The game was close until the fourth quarter.

At halftime, the Giants were beating the Cowboys 13-7. But, the Cowboys came back with three consecutive second-half touchdowns which put the score at 28-13. The Giants touchdown with eight seconds ended the scoring.

Neither team will play again until Sunday, December 4. The Giants will play the Washington Commanders, and the Cowboys will play the Indiana Colts.



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Crime

Parents Charged After Leaving Two-Year-Old Home Alone While Going Out Of State

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Parents from South Carolina have been taken into custody after leaving their 2-year-old child at home alone as they went to New York, the Charleston Police Department said.

Authorities say that on November 17, close to 2 p.m., they arrived to a residence after receiving information about a toddler being by themselves in an apartment.

Court documents show that someone told police that the child’s father sent a text message indicating that he was in New York for business purposes.

Because the apartment complex couldn’t reach anyone inside of the apartment, they conducted an emergency walk-through.

Records state that a child was discovered asleep on a bed in the living room.

Authorities stated that the child woke up and wanted his empty water bottle. Besides a dirty pamper, the toddler was in good condition and was transported to a hospital through a foster care provider.

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Police say that they attempted to contact the father and mother but were unable to do so.

Later, 24-year-old Donald Gekonge, the father of the child, reached out to the complex and talked to police. He reportedly told them that he had left at 6 a.m. that morning, and he was “only a few states away.”

Eventually, he stated that he was in New York for business, and he was unaware of who was caring for his toddler. However, he believed that it was the mother of the child, Darline Aldrich.

Then, later on, Gekonge’s story evolved even more. He admitted that Aldrich was in New York, as well, for an emergency.

Gekonge and Aldrich were apprehended on charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Gekonge’s bond was set at $50,000, and Aldrich’s bond was placed at $75,000.



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Crime

Top 5 Drug-Related Arrests Caught on Bodycam

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The Law&Crime Network’s Angenette Levy and retired DEA agent Steve Murphy break down five drug-related arrests caught on bodycam by (more…)

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