Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against four people arrested and charged in the deaths of eight members of the Rhoden family in Pike County in 2016.

The arrests were announced Tuesday afternoon by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

George "Billy" Wagner III, 47, Angela Wagner, 48, George Wagner IV, 27, Edward "Jake" Wagner, 26, all of South Webster, were arrested and have been charged with planning and carrying out the April 22, 2016 slayings.

"We promised that the day would come when arrests would be made," DeWine said. "Today is that day."

The Wagners are charged with planning and carrying out the killings of Christopher Rhoden, 40, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, Clarence "Frankie" Rhoden, 20, Hannah Gilley, 20, Kenneth Rhoden, 44 and Gary Rhoden, 38.

>>Photos: See photos of the Rhoden family victims

Edward Wagner and George Wagner IV are brothers and the sons of George "Billy" Wagner III and Angela Wagner.

Billy Wagner was arrested in the Lexington, Kentucky, area by Lexington police and FBI agents without incident, according to media reports from that area. A TV station in the area said Billy Wagner was found hiding inside a horse trailer attached to a pickup truck on property near an equine farm.

Angela Wagner was arrested at her home in Scioto County. Jake and George Wagner were arrested in a traffic stop in Ross County.

The charges against the four primary suspects include aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, unauthorized use of property, interception of communications, conspiracy and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance. They are also charged with forgery for forging documents related to a custody case involving a child Jake Wagner shared with Hanna Rhoden, DeWine said.

According to the indictments, the Wagners are accused of beginning to plan the killings in January 2016. The Wagners bought items to build a silencer, bug detectors and specific shoes, according to the records.

The indictment also accuses the Wagners of "obtaining and sharing information regarding the victims and their properties ... to include their habits and routines, sleeping locations, physical layout of the properties, counter-surveillance devices present on the properties including pets and illegal monitoring of various social media accounts."

According to the indictment, the Wagners destroyed or tampered with a video recorder Jake Wagner had bought in March 2016, the silencer, the victims' trail and surveillance cameras and cell phones.

The indictments also confirm previous speculations that the bodies of some of the victims were moved. The records show the bodies of Christopher Rhoden Sr. and Gary Rhoden were moved at the scene.

Two other people, Fredericka Wagner, the mother of Billy Wagner, and Rita Newcomb, the mother of Angela Wagner, were arrested Tuesday for their connection in covering up the crimes, DeWine said, adding that there was no evidence that anyone else was involved.

A three-day search was conducted at the Wagners' home in May 2017. The home was also searched a second time. Another property, owned by other members of the Wagner family, was also searched in May 2017.

Following those searches, members of the Wagner family filed a claim against authorities for damage done during the searches, including damage to a custom-made deck that the family claimed was destroyed by those doing the search.

Media reports related to the searches said authorities had been looking at household items left by a former boyfriend of one of the victims.

>>Read more: A year after the slayings, few answers in Pike County murders

Members of the Wagner family moved to Alaska in the months following the killings.

A Rhoden family member found the bodies on April 22, 2016. The investigation has kept the community on edge and has been the largest in state history.

Kenneth Rhoden was found at a property about 10 minutes from the main three scenes.

Christopher Rhoden and Gary Rhoden were found dead in a trailer at 4077 Union Hill Road. Next door, the bodies of Clarence Rhoden and his fiance Hannah Gilley were found, as well as Gilley's young children who were not harmed.

Dana Rhoden, Christopher Rhoden Jr. and Hanna Rhoden were found about a mile away at 3122 Union Hill Road. Hanna Rhoden's infant daughter was found at the scene unharmed, lying next to her mother.

Edward "Jake" Wagner is the father of one of Hanna Rhoden's children, who was 3 at the time of the killings. Jake was one of three men who submitted claims of paternity for Rhoden's other daughter, an infant, but he was later determined not to be the father of that child.

Following the deaths, Jake created an online fundraiser for himself and his daughter with Hanna Rhoden. In August 2016, he told The Dispatch he didn't want everything to be about him.

"I feel that if I do some big story everyone will think I'm trying to make it about me," he told The Dispatch.

DeWine said the Wagners spent months extensively planning the killings, studying the victims and their habits.

The evidence will show the motive for the killings is connected to custody of the child Jake Wagner shared with Hanna Rhoden, DeWine said.

"There certainly was obsession with custody, obsession with control of children," DeWine said. "This is the most bizarre story I've ever seen."

>>Read more: Family investigated in Pike County slayings say they are being harassed

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said the Wagners made mistakes in their attempt to coverup their actions, leaving hints and clues about the parts to build a silencer, the cellphones and all the lies they told investigators.

Cellphones at the scenes were tampered with before the Wagners left the scene, DeWine said.

DeWine said more than 700 pieces of evidence were tested and more than 550 interviews were conducted during the course of the investigation.

A key piece of physical evidence was the final piece of the puzzle in figuring out what had happened on April 22, 2016, DeWine said. That piece of evidence was received by investigators on Oct. 30.

From the beginning, investigators described the killings as a calculated, well-planned and coordinated attack, saying the Rhoden family was specifically targeted and the killers took steps to cover their tracks.

Investigators said most of the victims were shot while sleeping.

Christopher Sr. was the only one of the eight victims who was shot somewhere other than the head. His death certificate indicates he had "gunshot wounds to the head, torso and extremity."

Law enforcement sources and relatives have said there was evidence Chris was up and moving around the home, and likely realized someone was coming. Relatives say there was evidence that he had even been shot at least once through a wall or a door. The family member who found the bodies said on the 911 call there was blood all over the house and that the bodies had been dragged to a back bedroom.

Kenneth was the only one of the eight who was shot only once, according to the certificates, all of which were signed by Pike County Coroner David Kessler.

Each of the others had been shot multiple times in the head.

The three trailers and a camper where the crimes took place were towed from their original locations and stored in a warehouse. Since the initial move, the trailers have been moved a second time and are now being stored on county property.

In June 2017, the attorney general's office had asked the public for information about dealings with the four Wagners who were arrested Tuesday. At the time, the Wagners were believed to be living in Alaska.

The Wagners' attorney, John Kearson Clark, has maintained that the family has nothing to do with the crime, a sentiment he echoed in a written statement on behalf of the family Tuesday.

"The Wagners do eagerly look forward to their trial and to have their day in court so they can vindicate their names," he said. "The Wagners are also ever hopeful that in the ensuing months there will be a thorough vetting of all the facts. Moreover, we look forward to the day when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this terrible tragedy."

With tens of thousands of man hours put into the case, the process of prosecution is just beginning, Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk said.

He said it will likely be several years before all the cases go through trials and reach conclusions.

"We have obsessively focused on solving this case," Reader said. "We have been patient when it has been painful to be, running down every lead, no matter how small."

"We're the place that finds justice for victims and today is a big step on that path," Reader said.

All six suspects are being held in separate detention facilities. Two are currently being housed in Pickaway County and one each in Franklin, Ross and Delaware counties. Reader said Billy Wagner will be housed in Butler County when he is brought back from Kentucky.

Arrangements will be made for all six defendants to have their initial appearances in court within the next several days. 

Dispatch Reporter Rita Price contributed to this story.

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