Those Murdering Wagners from Pike County, Ohio: The reason guns make society safer

As it turned out, I know people who know people who know people who knew the Wagner’s, the four family members who slaughtered the marijuana producing Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio a few years ago. It didn’t surprise me to learn that the heavily tattooed George Wagner III and his wife Angela along with their two sons George the Vth and Edward were responsible for the execution style killings of eight people. Pike County is rural, everyone knows everyone, and almost every house has someone’s ex-wife in it and when it comes to child custody which is always a problem of high turnover divorce situations, or loose sexual ethics, tempers flare. It doesn’t matter what courts decide, particularly among people who have the IQ of a potato, when raw, primitive instincts are unleashed, things like this grisly murder happen.

When people were slow to back Mike DeWine for governor, now they get to see why many of us supported him. DeWine may not be flashy, but he certainly didn’t back down from this horrible case as Ohio’s Attorney General and thank goodness he didn’t. There was plenty of wrong to go around when the bodies of Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their three children, Hanna May Rhoden, 19; Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16; and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20. Frankie Rhoden’s fiancée, Hannah “Hazel Gilley,” 20, were found badly beaten, butchered, and killed execution style, along with the brother and cousin of Christopher Rhoden Sr., Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38. The nation has been shocked not just once due to the nature of the murders, but in seeing the pictures of the Wagner family. The shock that such normal people, “so to speak” could do such a thing has captured the terror that resides in most everyone, in wondering who among the people they know might be capable of something similar.

What always shocks me about cases like this is how the family could have lived since then. The Wagners obviously were a close family who talked to each other and had at least great passion for the kid that was at the center of the killings, but what did they think would happen after they killed the Rhoden family? Imagine the dinner conversations after they killed eight people in a Ohio county where if someone sneezes, every house knows about it. Feeling the pressure the Wagners moved to Alaska where they actually had conversations with their landlord about coming back to Ohio and clearing their name, so they were professing innocence. Imagine living with the knowledge that you had been involved in such a terrible crime then trying to tell people you knew about it and declaring innocence. You would either have to be terribly stupid or just manically evil. Regardless, it was great work by Mike DeWine’s office and law enforcement to put all the pieces together and make the arrests of the Wagner family this past week. And watching them appear in court I just have to shake my head in wonder what they were thinking and what life for them must have been like over the past two years. I mean did they sit down as a family and stream movies off Netflix and live like normal people? How didn’t the crushing weight of what they had done destroy their happiness in their every day life? Then looking at them and watching their courtroom conduct, I think they were just too stupid to know that what they did was wrong and they were likely too thoughtless to quell their emotions in the first place which is how these killings happened originally.

There will always be George Wagners in the world, dumb people acting on animal instincts who tattoo themselves up to look like a menace to society to earn respect that they can never get due to their limited intellectual abilities. And when their ruse doesn’t work, they will seek to enforce their emotions through physical dominance, these problems are as old as the human race itself. We can create laws to stop it, but marijuana is against the law yet the Rhoden family had a major growth operation, they weren’t completely innocent in all this. This is precisely what happens when we have a lawless society filled with people who have not pushed themselves intellectually interacting with each other. What you end up with is a society obsessed with sex and death and in that context, the Wagners were functioning at the level of the average animal, and nothing more.

We like to think that we have a civilization where public education and a structured society might avoid making people like the Wagners and the Rhodens. But I can tell you that through massive parts of rural America and well within the inner cities, a lot of people aren’t very far off from these primitive emotions. They are all one power outage away from becoming mass murderers themselves. All it would take is a lack of access to bread and water for a few days and they could easily become serial killers. There is only one thing that keeps these people in check, just like why animals don’t go near campfires or the sound of a gun shot can scare off predators, and that is their own fear of death. For the very stupid and unsophisticated, most people, even the Wagners as dumb as they appeared to be, have a basic instinct for self-preservation. That’s why after they committed the crimes, they fled to Alaska to hopefully outlast Mike DeWine’s investigation. Some states with less tenacious attorney generals might have given up after a few years of investigation, so the Wagners came back to Ohio expecting that to be the case, but obviously that wasn’t what happened.

This is why I say often, more and more these days, that gun ownership is an intellectual pursuit, because it provides protection from the lawless and stupid that structured society fails to provide. A structured, respectful society only exists when people like these Wagners are diffused from action out of their own preservation. But if they think the target of their anger or anxiety is unarmed, they will all too often function from raw emotion. They have no respect for the law as life in Pike County tends to be. There are a lot of marijuana growers there who live too far away from the city to have a steady job. Once the premise for law breaking is established then more advanced law breaking becomes more and more of an option. Murder is against the law but so is running through a stop sign, or speeding, or selling drugs. Once you rationalize one thing, the door to everything else is opened and chaos erupts. In such a world, which no law can prevent, the gun is the only thing that normal people can use to keep the villains of the world safely away.

This is why I propose that more guns not less are the essential element to a more civilized society. Gun possession and the will to use them against assailants triggers in people like the Wagners at least a measure of self-preservation that may well prevent senseless murders over raw passions such as in the Rhoden case. I’m sure the Rhoden’s had guns, but they likely weren’t readily available. I think guns should be worn or be near their owners most times of the day. At any point in my 24-hour day I am never very far from mine ever. It’s not that I plan to shoot anybody, but when your enemies know you have them, it causes them to take an extra measure of planning before they try to kill you. Often that is a variable that they are too lazy to sift through, and when those enemies are as dumb and unsophisticated as the Wagners, they are likely to turn on the television and forget about their flared tempers when given the option of a possible death among themselves. And that is the only real way to have a peaceful society.

When you carry a gun, even around your house you aren’t conducting your life-like some gun crazed lunatic, the way gun control advocates would like to portray such people. You are saving lives by detouring many attempts that would otherwise occur. That is exactly why gun free zones are so dangerous and why many of our gun free cities have the highest crime rates. Guns are the fabric of a structured society and they keep losers like the Wagner family from showing up on your doorstep wanting to kill you because you looked at their “ol’ lady,” or that you took their parking space at a Dollar Store. By having the gun with you at all times in your life, you keep those types of losers from becoming murderers and you keep crime from happening and that is the only method of real law enforcement that works.

Rich Hoffman

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