Pike County murders: 2nd grandmother posts bond, released from jail

The second of two grandmothers arrested on suspicion of helping cover up the 2016 Pike County massacre has posted bond and is released from jail, according to court records and a jail roster.

Rita Jo Newcomb, 65, posted a $50,000 surety bond Tuesday, according to a Pike County Common Pleas Court docket.

Newcomb is no longer listed on the roster of the Pickaway County Jail, where she had been housed since her arrest last week. She will now be under house arrest and electronic monitoring, according to court records.

INVESTIGATION: Pike County deaths and multiple arrests tied to one key factor — child custody

ExploreRita Jo Newcomb. CONTRIBUTED Staff Writer

Newcomb, who cares for her 86-year-old mother, asked the court last week to place her on house arrest at her mother’s home.

Last week, Newcomb pleaded not guilty to three counts of forgery, one count of obstructing justice and one count of perjury. Each is a felony count. Prosecutors allege she lied to a grand jury and forged custody documents before the murders.

Franklin Gerlach, attorney for Rita Newcomb, last week pleaded for the public to remember she should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

“What we’re saying is please give her the constitutional right of presumption of innocence before jumping to the conclusions,” he said.

Newcomb is the grandmother of Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, one of four Wagner family members arrested on capital murder charges last week related to the 2016 killings of eight people in the Rhoden and Gilley families.

Jake Wagner’s father, George “Billy Wagner III; his mother, Angela Wagner; and brother, George Wagner IV, each face murder charges as well. They are awaiting arraignment.

Another of Jake Wagner’s grandmothers, Fredericka Wagner, was released from jail last week. She also pleaded not guilty to obstructing justice and perjury charges.

Contact this reporter at 937-259-2086 or email Will.Garbe@coxinc.com.

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