The youngest member of a family charged in the April 2016 deaths of eight people in rural Pike County has reportedly reached a plea agreement, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

As previously reported, George "Billy" Wagner III, Angela Wagner, George Wagner IV and Edward "Jake" Wagner of South Webster were each charged in November 2018 with eight counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications in the slayings of the Rhoden family in rural Pike County. The eight counts represent each victim found dead on April 22, 2016 — exactly five years ago.

Holly Zachariah of the Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday afternoon that Edward “Jake” Wagner has agreed to “admit to what he had done and pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated murder” in what she described as a “surprise plea.”

“In perhaps the most-stunning development of the surprise plea, which took place in a hastily scheduled hearing in Pike County Common Pleas Court with nothing listed on a public schedule until the last minute, Wagner agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the cases against his parents and older brother, also all charged in the murders,” Zachariah wrote.

According to Zachariah, as part of the plea agreement, Jake Wagner will not face the death penalty.

As previously reported, the victims on April 22, 2016 included: Hannah Gilley, 20; Christopher Rhoden, Sr., 40; Christopher Rhoden, Jr., 16; Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden; 20; Dana Rhoden, 37; Gary Rhoden, 38; Hanna Rhoden, 19; and Kenneth Rhoden, 44.

Three children – one 4-day-old newborn, one 6-month-old and one 3-year-old – survived the shootings.

The redacted autopsy report indicates the cause of death of each individual is gunshot wounds to the head, with “multiple” wounds reported for most of the victims. Several victims also had gunshot wounds found in the neck or torso.

Then-Attorney General (now Governor) Mike DeWine has said the top-priority case might be the biggest in the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation's history in terms of manpower and resources.

According to Zachariah, Jake Wagner “faced more charges than the rest of his family.”

Pike County court records show a total of 23 criminal charges filed against Wagner, including the aforementioned eight aggravated murder charges; conspiracy; four counts of aggravated burglary; unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance; three counts of tampering with evidence; forgery; unauthorized use of computer or telecommunications; interception of wire, oral or electronic communications; obstructing justice; engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Thursday issued the following statement following the plea agreement filing:

“I am incredibly proud of our team at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation whose dedication, perseverance and expertise lead to today’s plea.

“The scope of this crime and subsequent investigation surpasses any other in Ohio’s history. The dedicated men and women of BCI rose to the challenge in the pursuit of justice for the victims — and never gave up.

“BCI’s work spans countless long nights, weeks and years and will continue until all responsible for these crimes are held accountable.

"Today's hearing finally brings some degree of closure to the surviving family members, and I pray that they might find peace in the face of this horror."

To read the Dispatch report, go to: