Pike County murder trial: Investigators testify about bullet casings found at homes of victims, suspects

WAVERLY — Evidence presented Thursday in the Pike County murder trial of George Wagner IV included photos from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation that showed bullet casings found on Wagner-family owned property and at the multiple places where eight Rhoden family members were shot and killed.

Wagner is accused of killing those eight people in April 2016. His trial has lasted 18 days and there are no signs of it stopping any time soon.

That is because there are so many witnesses being called to testify and pieces of evidence being presented to the jury, which initially was taken to the crime scenes where the Rhodens were killed execution style, mostly while in their beds in their homes.

Wagner also faces charges associated with tampering with evidence, conspiracy and forgery. His parents, Angela and George “Billy” Wagner, and his brother Jake, are also accused in the killings.

Taking the stand Thursday was BCI Agent Bryan White, who discovered and collected evidence on the Wagner’s family property on Peterson Road in Pike County.

Once the Wagners were suspects, investigators in May 2017 combed the property for two days. At that time, the Wagners had moved to Alaska, where they lived for a year.

White told the courtroom the search also uncovered printouts that had been thrown in the trash. The printouts were of Facebook charts between a man and Wagner’s ex-wife, Tabitha, who testified earlier in the week.

Another printout showed a conversation between Hanna May Rhoden, one of the shooting victims, and Angela Wagner, though the messages were not read in court.

Shell casings and unfired .22 caliber rounds were found throughout the house and in outbuildings on the property, White testified.

Outside, investigators and law enforcement searched the property in a grid formation, discovering hundreds of shell casings, including .22 caliber long rifle, rim-fire casings similar to ones found at two of the four different crime scenes.

Matt White, a BCI ballistics and firearms lab technician, testified that shell casings found at the Wagner home matched characteristics of shell casings found at the crime scenes and bullets found in the victims’ bodies. He said the fired .22 casings from scene No. 1 and scene No. 3, plus 12 casings from Peterson Road, were all fired from the same firearm, in his opinion.

When asked by defense attorneys whether he could tell who fires the gun, White responded no.

The trial resumes Friday, Oct. 7, in Pike County.

WCPO journalists Felicia Jordan and Evan Millward contributed to this report.

About the Author