Facing charges of perjury, obstructing justice, and forgery, Rita Newcomb, 65, of South Webster, appeared for her first pretrial in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, George “Billy” Wagner III, 47, his wife Angela Wagner, 48, and their sons George Wagner IV, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26, were arrested for the murders of eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families in Pike County on April 22, 2016.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, Fredericka Wagner, 76, George “Billy” Wagner III’s mother, and Rita Newcomb, Angela Wagner’s mother, were arraigned on charges of obstructing justice and perjury for “allegedly misleading investigators” who were investigating the Rhoden/Gilley homicides. In addition, Newcomb is charged with forgery. (See related story.)
Newcomb pleaded not guilty to all charges at her arraignment in November and was placed under house arrest. On Thursday, Newcomb’s attorney, Franklin Gerlach, asked that the terms of her house arrest be modified in order to allow Newcomb to travel to her farm 12 miles away to take care of her horses and dogs. She is currently living with her mother to help take care of her.
Newcomb indicated that the farm is not an income source, and it was stated that her son has been taking care of the animals while Newcomb has been under house arrest.
Special Prosecutor Angela Canepa objected to the modification of the terms of house arrest. Among other arguments, she stated that it is hard to document how long she is going to be there and whether or not it will be daily, and she said that it starts to defeat the purpose of house arrest with this kind of a modification.
Judge Randy Deering asked the defense to file a motion and supply more written information concerning the request, and then the state will have an opportunity to respond.
According to a bill of particulars filed by the state on Thursday, in addition to charges of obstructing justice and perjury, Newcomb is facing three charges of forgery for allegedly forging custody documents for Hanna May Rhoden, Edward Jacob Wagner, and George Wagner IV on April 3, 2016.
The next pretrial for Newcomb is scheduled for March 28.