Charges dropped against woman in probe of family massacre
PIKETON (AP) — Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped all of the charges against an Ohio woman accused of lying during an investigation of her relatives who were later accused of carrying out the massacre of eight people.
A judge dismissed the obstruction and perjury charges against 77-year-old Fredericka Wagner after prosecutors said the investigation was ongoing and there were concerns about violating her right to a speedy trial.
Wagner’s son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons were charged in November with shooting eight members of a family in Pike County more than three years ago. All four have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors had said Wagner lied to a grand jury after investigators found two bulletproof vests at her home.
Wagner’s attorney later argued in March that the charges should be dismissed because she bought the vests two weeks after the killings to protect her family and that she initially didn’t remember where she got them online.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that they still could refile the charges against Wagner. Her attorney told the judge that she has maintained her innocence and denied any involvement.
Wagner smiled and hugged her daughter after the charges were dismissed.
She had largely been confined to her home since last November after she posted bond following her arrest.
Authorities say her son, George “Billy” Wagner III; her daughter-in-law, Angela Wagner; and grandsons George Wagner and Edward “Jake” Wagner planned for months an attack on members of the Rhoden family.
They could face the death penalty if convicted.
Investigators have said that a custody dispute between Jake Wagner and one of the victims was a possible motive in the slayings.