The Cause of the Wagner Murders: Being dumb is just as dangerous as any weapon

Let’s get something straight, judging people is good. It’s really good. The current world may say judge not and ye not be judged and I say to that, bull shit. I make my living being very judgmental and I will never starve, nor will my family because of it. Judgement is what makes us as human beings different from say a………………………………rock. So before anybody says to me, “how dare you judge people so negatively” I will say to them, shut the hell up and go get a basic education, then lets talk. Passing judgment is the way humans navigate through their existence and if you don’t do it, you might as well cut off your arms and legs because judgment is just as important to anyone and everyone. And with that in mind I watched the arraignment of the various Wagner family members intensely as they were charged with the execution style murders of eight Rhoden family members. Each of them had their own court appearance, Billy Wagner being the last, all 6’ 6” of him at 274 pounds and covered in tattoos. His wife Angela and their sons Jake and George leading up to the climax as the public saw them really for the first time. It was quite an event to look at people who could even consider murdering people in such a violent way, and all over a child custody battle. But it wasn’t just them who were part of the exhibition, it was the family who had gathered in the audience which told more of the story, one that is worth noting for posterity.

What I saw in the various arraignments was a family who liked each other and were sad that they would likely never see each other again. Their lives were ruined and essentially over and particularly in Angela, the wife, that reality had hit her hard. They looking like a nice family that probably enjoyed being around other members of their family and had hopes and dreams that lasted until that crushing moment that they decided to go kill the family that had disputed them in a custody battle over a child that was shared between them. Literature is filled with the rage of passion that comes from such emotions—Romeo and Juliet come to mind. It’s not like history doesn’t have something to say on these matters and the purpose of education is so that we learn from history, even from the fiction that authors come up with to deal with raw emotions that sometimes do erupt under tenuous circumstances.

As I watched the body language of each of them, especially Billy I couldn’t help but think that it was stupidity that had brought them all to that moment and it was such a tragedy. Being stupid in modern America is a choice and in rural Ohio a long way to the east of Cincinnati there isn’t much of a daily need for books and such. Billy likely made his way through life using his size as leverage in negotiating with other people intimidating them into compliance, so he didn’t have to put much thought into things. As he got older, he tattooed himself up because it looked scary and gave him even more capital when he needed to frighten people into doing what he said. So he didn’t have much experience in problem solving—most things in life he could solve in eastern Ohio by looking scary. That was until one of his boys impregnated the daughter of the Rhoden family that was deep into illegal activity. Between their chop shop on the family compound, their illegal cock-fighting games, and their marijuana growing operation, the Rhodens were a ruling family in that part of the world and their capital assets were their access to power. The police obviously knew what was going on and was probably involved to some extent. So when the Wagners decided that they couldn’t rely on the courts to help them with their custody case they resorted to the only means of communication they understood, brute strength and intimidation. After all, a big guy like Billy didn’t want to hear his ol’ lady bitch about some chick that his son had screwed for the rest of his life and the granddaughter that they had limited access to because the Rhodens were politically much more powerful. So he rationalized that he just kill them all so he wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore.

I’m sure the situation I described isn’t far from reality based on what we have learned so far in the case. Many families could tell the same story, they just usually don’t end up killing a rival family. As we are considering this case here on these pages, many families are thinking of Christmas and there are a lot of women getting themselves worked up over some girl their boys are dating, or some affair that someone had with someone else that is tainting the Holiday experience, or some in-law that they don’t like. Unfortunately, the Holidays for most people are filled with people they don’t like, but are nice to out of the necessity for civility. But in the car ride home the bitching never stops and it goes on incessantly and if you are a big boy like Billy who had up to that point in his life solved most problems with brute force, there really isn’t a good way to shut up the voices of dissent that come from family interactions with people who don’t share your immediate values. A big, dumb man covered in tattoos, limited reading ability and a terrible education to reference anything against is pretty defenseless in a world that requires intellect and thoughtful consideration and the sad thing about the Wagner situation is that they were all just too dumb to solve their problems with the Rhodens any other way.

As brutal as the Wagner massacre of the Rhoden family was, there is a very Christian like morality layered under it all that naturally comes from life in the Bible belt, a morality on the benefits of young children who were spared in the killings. But to any intelligent observation from the outside world, it’s not the custody of the child that was the problem. It was their level of intellectual ability that would surely destroy any child spawned from such dumb people. Being dumb is a choice, it’s not the same as being intellectually handicapped because of some birth defect. It’s a choice not to learn to read and write properly and not to use history as a guide on how to maneuver through the future. To just solve a problem the way that Shakespeare wrote about over 400 years ago is dumb because it is ignoring 500 years of human evolution in rational discourse. And if the truth were told, that is the cause of these terrible murders—sheer dumbness, purposeful lack of intellect displayed upon the upbringing of a defenseless child. Because even if the murders didn’t occur the poor kid would grow up to be just as dumb as its parents, bitching about the same dumb problems every Holiday about the same dumb people they ran into in town. And the kid would over eat and become fat like the rest of them because they were too dumb to correct the behavioral characteristics of destructive living because their brains were all underdeveloped and trying to look at the world through a pinhole that their tiny little brains had barely managed to poke through a cardboard box. And when a conflict came to pass, they solved it with the same brand of rationality. And lots of people died for no reason at all and a family that could have lived a fairly decent life given their circumstances of intellect are now going to die in prison and never see each other again—which is pretty damn stupid.

Rich Hoffman

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