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Authorities: Prosecuting Ohio Massacre Case Could Last Years 14 November 2018

Authorities: Prosecuting Ohio Massacre Case Could Last Years 14 November 2018

The four lived near the scenes of the massacre about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Columbus and had always been considered chief suspects, DeWine said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said a grand jury indicted the four members of the Wagner family on aggravated murder charges.

"We promised that the day would come when arrests would be made in the Pike County massacres", DeWine said at a press conference.

The arrests are the culmination of a massive investigative effort since seven adults and a 16-year-old boy was found dead in 2016 at four homes near Piketon. Almost all the victims had been shot multiple times in the head.

Some of the family members were still sleeping when they were killed, authorities said.

Three young children's lives were spared- one of them the daughter of suspect Jake Wagner and victim Hanna May Rhoden. The daughter was not present during the attacks.

DeWine gave scant detail about why the victims were killed, but said the custody of a young child played a role.

"There certainly was obsession with custody".

"There was an obsession with custody, obsession with control of the children", DeWine said.

He added: "I just might tell you this is just the most freaky story I've ever seen in being involved in law enforcement".

DeWine says the Wagner family knew the victims well and spent months studying their routines and the layouts of their homes.

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The Wagners are also facing a series of additional charges including conspiracy, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with evidence, unlawful possession of a unsafe ordinance, forgery, unauthorized use of property, interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, obstructing justice, and aggravated burglary.

Sophia remains in Jake Wagner's custody having moved with her father and the rest of the family to Alaska shortly after the killings in 2017. "But not carefully enough", Reader said.

Officials Tuesday noted that the families of the victims are still coping with the deaths of their loved ones, and that the suspects' alleged actions left a stain on the county.

The Wagner family's presence didn't really make waves in Kenai, even after authorities in OH put out a press release asking for tips about the family in relation to the slayings, said Will Morrow, who was then the editor of the Peninsula Clarion newspaper.

The six are in custody in OH and Kentucky, authorities said.

Also arrested today were Angela Wagner's mother, Rita Newcomb, and Billy Wagner's mother, Fredericka Wagner. He was being held at Lexington Fayette County Jail. "If you go back in the history of the Attorney General's Office and BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) my guess is we have never tackled an investigation involving eight people of the same family who were killed". The Wagners had moved to Alaska. They were reportedly close friends with the Rhodens, and lived near the scenes of the killings. They moved to Kenai, Alaska, in June 2017, then returned to OH this past spring.

John Clark, a lawyer who has been representing the Wagners, said a year ago that four of the Wagner family members had provided laptops, phones and DNA samples to investigators, and agreed to be interviewed about the slayings. Attorney John Clark says the family is waiting for the day "when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this bad tragedy".

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader said in an earlier press conference that the investigation is the largest ever in the county.

"It's been the most sophisticated operation we've ever undertaken", DeWine said.

Junk noted the cases could take two years to prosecute, saying hundreds of motions are likely from both sides.

This article will be updated with more information as the story develops.