Pike County murders: Grandmother on house arrest asks to leave Wagner farm

Fredericka Wagner — one of two grandmothers who pleaded not guilty to charges they helped their children and grandchildren cover-up an eight-person massacre — has asked a judge to let her leave the farm where she is on house arrest.

Wagner’s attorney made the request this week so that Wagner, 76, could travel about a half-mile to a group home she runs for disabled individuals.

The attorney, James Owen, said the electronic house arrest monitor on Wagner can be programmed to change the coordinates of where she can travel. Aerial photographs show the group home is connected by a road to her sprawling homestead south of Piketon, the Flying W Farm.

Fredericka Wagner and Rita Jo Newcomb are the paternal and maternal grandmothers of Jake Wagner, who is accused in the murders along with his brother, George Wagner IV, 27; his father, George “Billy” Wagner III, 47; and his mother, Angela Wagner, 48.

INVESTIGATION: Pike County deaths and multiple arrests tied to one key factor — child custody

Court records and IRS documents reviewed by the Dayton Daily News show Fredericka Wagner has operated the Crystal Springs Home since the mid-1980s. The non-profit home’s most-recent filing with the IRS shows five individuals with developmental disabilities live there.

Fredericka Wagner collected a $51,738 salary in 2017 from the organization as its chairman and executive director, a 40-hour a week job, the IRS records show. Additionally, she collected another $15,000 in facility lease payments from the organization, the records show.

Previously, Owen said he is not aware of any evidence showing his client was part of a cover up. He said she taught Sunday school for nearly a half-century and “has lived about as close to the cross as anyone can.”

Prosecutors painted a different picture of Fredericka Wagner, one as a woman with access to “sizable amounts of money” who “lied under oath” to a grand jury and was party to discussions about exacting revenge on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine were a member of the family to be arrested.

READ MORE: How big was the Pike County murders investigation?

“I’m not suggesting she would become a hit man or anything of that nature, but the state does have concerns about her participation in those conversations or potential coordinating any of those sorts of efforts,” said Special Prosecuting Attorney Angela Canepa in court.

Meantime, an attorney for the other grandmother on house arrest, Newcomb, tells the Dayton Daily News the ordeal has been difficult. The 65-year-old Newcomb takes care of her mother.

“It’s just terrible being confined,” said Franklin Gerlach, her attorney.

Read more coverage:

» Pike County deaths and multiple arrests tied to one key factor — child custody

» AG-elect Yost proposes plan to help Pike County cover trial costs

» Focus on Wagner family turns into arrests for Pike County murders

» Death penalty possible for 4 of 6 arrested in Rhoden slayings

About the Authors