The lead investigator in the Pike County massacre testified in court on Monday that the slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family in rural Ohio may have been inspired by The Boondock Saints film series.
Ryan Scheiderer took the stand in the trial of George Wagner IV, 31, one of the men accused of executing members of an Ohio family in 2016, and laid out parallels between the movies and the killings.
Scheiderer told the court on Monday that the Wagner brothers dyed their hair to look like the characters and showed a photo of a Beretta pistol used in the slayings, the same as those used in the films.
It comes after Wagner’s brother, Jake Wagner, 26, who already pleaded guilty in the murders, testified last month that he watched The Boondock Saints to ‘psych himself up before the killings,’ FOX19 reported.
The brothers, along with their parents, George ‘Billy’ Wagner III, 47, and Angela Wagner, 48, were arrested for the 2016 murders of the Rhoden family in rural Ohio.
Prosecutors on the case say a custody dispute between two families spurred the massacre in rural southern Ohio that started with a plan to kill just one of them, a young mother refusing to give up her daughter.
Ryan Scheiderer, the lead investigator in the Pike County massacre testified at the trial of George Wagner IV (pictured) that the 2016 slayings of eight members of the Rhoden family in rural Ohio may have been inspired by The Boondock Saints film series
Scheiderer told the court Monday it’s believed the Wagner brothers dyed their hair to look like the characters and showed a photo of a Beretta pistol used in the slayings – same as in the films
Scheiderer testified that the brothers used ski masks and equipped their guns with silencers in the killings, just like the characters did in The Boondock Saints films
The trial for George Wagner IV reached its 11th week with the state expected to wrap up its arguments on Tuesday, Law & Crime reported.
His brother, Jake Wagner pleaded guilty last year to shooting five members of the Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio on April 22, 2016.
Their mother, Angela Wagner, also pleaded guilty to helping plan the slayings.
Both testified against George Wagner IV last month.
Jake and George’s father, George ‘Billy’ Wagner III, has pleaded not guilty. He likely won’t go on trial until next year.
In court on Monday, Scheiderer testified that the brothers used ski masks and equipped their guns with silencers in the killings, just like the characters did in The Boondock Saints films.
The Boondock Saints is about two Irish Catholic brothers who become vigilantes and wipe out Boston’s criminal underworld in the name of God.
The investigator also told the court about a scene in the film in which ‘The Scorpion and the Frog’ fable was talked about just moments before a father kills his best friend with the help of his two sons.
Scheiderer pointed out that after the massacre, George Wagner IV got a tattoo of a scorpion, which he suggested was a reference to the scene about the fable.
Several other people testified for the state on Monday including Kelly Cinereski, a priest at the church the Wagner family attended in Alaska.
Cinereski said the family was ‘trying to find their relationship with the Lord’ when they moved there in 2017.
‘I hoped that they could not have done something like that—murder,’ Cinereski said, then added that the slayings were ‘evil’ and ‘disgusting.’
Scheiderer also pointed out a photo George Wagner IV holding a Beretta pistol used in the slayings, the same as what was used in the films
Scheiderer told the court about a scene in the film in which ‘The Scorpion and the Frog’ fable was talked about just moments before a father kills his friend with help of his two sons
Scheiderer also pointed out that after the massacre, George Wagner IV got a tattoo of a scorpion, which he suggested was a reference to the scene about the fable from the movie
Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery star in The Boondock Saints in 1999. Jake Wagner said he watched The Boondock Saints to ‘psych himself up before the killings,’ FOX19 reported
Tattoo artist Shawn Fisher also took the stand on Monday and testified that a tattoo of a skull and eight ball he created for George was to cover up a past tattoo and that he had suggested the design.
There has been speculation that the eight ball tattoo was a symbol of the massacre of the Rhoden family, as there were eight people who died.
Prosecutors said the Wagner family at the time of the massacre became ‘obsessed’ with getting custody over Jake’s then three-year-old daughter with Hanna Rhoden after they feared the child would be molested by Hanna’s new boyfriend.
Hanna, then 19, was pushed by the Wagners to give custody to Jake but later wrote on social media months before the slayings that ‘they will have to kill me first.’
Jake testified last month that Hanna’s comment was his ‘tipping point’ and worried his toddler daughter was at risk for abuse.
‘I had no other choice than to kill Hanna,’ Jake said in the crowded courtroom.
Jake Wagner (center) testified in court against his brother George Wagner IV as a part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He pleaded guilty last year to shooting five members of the Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio on April 22, 2016. Jake pictured in court in 2021
Hanna, then 19, was pushed by the Wagners to give custody to Jake but later wrote on social media months before the slayings that ‘they will have to kill me first.’ She was shot in her sleep after she claimed Jake had to kill her in order to gain custody of the three-year-old they shared
Hanna wasn’t the only one killed in the massacre – eight members of Rhoden family were murdered, all but one were shot in the head while they slept in their homes.
The victims were Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; and the couple’s three children, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; Hanna May Rhoden, 19; and Clarence ‘Frankie’ Rhoden, 20.
Frankie Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 4; and a cousin Gary Rhoden, 38, were also murdered.
The Wagner family planned the massacre for nearly three months and bought masks, ammunition and a device to cut off phone signal, Prosecutor Angela Canepa said.
On the night of the massacre, George, Jake and Billy drove to four separate homes across rural Ohio where the victims were killed and moved the bodies.
Hanna was the main target for the Wagners – but her brothers Chris and Frankie Rhoden and their father Chris Rhoden Sr. were also on their hit list.
She was shot multiple times as she slept next to her baby that she shared with another man.
Jake said he previously thought about pinning the murders on Hanna’s boyfriend Corey Holdren.
Hanna Rhoden, the 19-year-old mother of Jake Wagner’s toddler daughter, was shot multiple times while sleeping with her newborn baby. Her 16-year-old brother Christopher Jr, right, was also killed in the slayings
Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40, and his ex-wife Dana Rhoden, 37, were among those killed in April 2016 in Ohio
Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44, (left) and a cousin, Gary Rhoden, 38, were also shot dead
Clarence ‘Frankie’ Rhoden, 20, and his fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20, were shot dead while sleeping with their child
Last month, the matriarch of the Wagner family who helped with the Pike County Massacre testified in court against her son, claiming that it was her husband’s idea.
Angela Wagner, 52, testified that it was her husband George ‘Billy’ Wagner III’s idea to kill the Rhoden family as he feared they would seek revenge if their son Jake, now-29, killed his baby’s mother.
Angela Wagner said that her younger son, Jake, had wanted to kill his child’s mother, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, but that her husband, Billy, 50, objected because he believed the woman’s family would seek revenge.
‘They’ll know, and then they come for Jake. They’d shoot him, if not all of us,’ Angela Wagner said her husband had told her. He also said the rest of the woman’s family ‘had to be murdered,’ she testified.
The slayings stemmed from a child custody dispute involving another of Angela’s sons and one of the victims, authorities have said.
She testified it was her husband George ‘Billy’ Wagner III’s idea to kill the Rhoden family as he feared they would seek revenge if his son Jake, now-29, killed his baby’s mother (pictured L-R) Angela and Billy Wagner)
Her son Jake (right) suspected his daughter Sophia was getting sexually abused as she would return to his house with her genitals being ‘red’ and had a ‘foul odor,’ according to Angela. Jake and Angela took plea deals and agreed to testify against George IV (left), who has pleaded not guilty
Angela Wagner, 52, (pictured) was seen walking into court last month
Angela testified that they feared Jake’s daughter Sophia was being sexually abused because she would return to their home with her genital area ‘red’ and it had ‘strong odors.’
She testified that the murders were performed to protect the child, Fox19 reported. When asked why the family didn’t contact Child Services, she reportedly said she didn’t know.
Hanna, alongside her father Christopher Rhoden Sr, 40, mother Dana Rhoden, 37, and brothers Clarence, 20, and Christopher Jr, 16, Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley, 20, Christopher Sr.’s brother, Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and cousin Gary Rhoden, 38, were all shot execution-style while they slept across four different homes in rural Ohio in April 2016.
Angela Wagner, who was asleep when the murders happened but knew about it, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to 14 counts and agreed to testify against her older son and her husband. In return, prosecutors dismissed eight counts of aggravated murder and agreed to not seek the death penalty.
Investigators claim the family bought ammunition, a magazine clip, brass catchers and a bug detector to prepare for the crimes.
It is claimed that they constructed a homemade silencer that was used in the shootings and used ‘counter-surveillance devices’ on the properties as well as tampering with phones, cameras and parts of a home security system.
The Wagner family lived in Alaska (pictured) briefly in spring 2017. Everyone but Billy wanted to live there permanently after the murders, but the father didn’t because his own dad was ill
The Wagner family fled to Alaska after the murders. From left to right: Edward ‘Jake’ Wagner, Angela Wagner and George Wagner IV are pictured outside a supermarket in 2017
Forged documents were found on the computer purporting that Hanna Rhoden had agreed to shared custody.
The Wagner’s took phones from six of the victims, as well as a recording device and trail cameras.
Angela reportedly confessed that the family took a vote on whether they would commit the murders and both her sons and husband said yes.
Prosecutors claim that Billy lured Christopher Sr to his death by setting up a fake ‘lucrative’ drug deal at the Union Hill Road Property before he was shot dead.
George and Jake were hidden in the car and are accuse of ambushing Hanna’s father before going on to three other homes along the road.
In a 911 call following the shootings, a woman sounded out of breath as she frantically told a dispatcher: ‘I think my brother-in-law’s dead … There’s blood all over the house.’
‘There’s blood all over the house. My brother-in-law is in the bedroom and it looks like someone has beat the hell out of him.’
In this 2016 photo, a private property sign guards the boarded up garage on property on Union Hill Road near the trailer where the bodies of Dana Rhoden and her children, Chris Rhoden Jr., and Hanna Rhoden, were found on April 22, 2016
Crime scene investigators were first called to Union Hill Road at 8.21am, when seven of the victims were found shot to death in the head ‘execution style’.
The first three homes where bodies were found are located within a couple miles of one another on a sparsely populated stretch of road, while the eighth body was found in a house within 30 miles just before 2pm.
The Wagner family moved to Kenai, Alaska, after the killings but returned to Ohio in 2018 when they ran out of money. They were arrested in November of that year.
At the time, the family said they were moving to escape what they claimed was unfair speculation that were responsible for the murders.