Kenai residents resting easy after Wagner family arrest

Published: Nov. 13, 2018 at 9:04 PM AKST
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Residents of the Kenai Peninsula are resting easy following the official indictment of the Wagner family, suspected of brutally murdering a family of eight in Ohio in 2016.

The Wagners moved to the Kenai area last year, and local residents quickly recognized their faces from the news.

Channel 2 spoke with Kenai resident Brad Conklin, the Wagner's new neighbor at the time in June 2017, when he recalled a casual conversation.

"Monday morning, I drove by, I seen them putting out kids toys. And that's when I'm gonna let them know that we do have bears in this area,” Conklin said. “And to watch their kids. And I just struck up a conversation with them saying 'Hi, welcome to the neighborhood.' No big deal. And then, 9:00 comes around, and I see that their face is plastered all over Facebook."

At a press conference in Ohio Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the investigation team traveled thousands of miles to ten separate states as a direct result of this investigation. “That includes some very significant time in Alaska,” he said.

So what happened in the last two years, while law enforcement agencies conducted an extensive investigation into the Wagner family?

An article published by the Cincinnati Enquirer in July 2017

, painting themselves as victims of innuendo, and suggesting that they escaped to a quiet Alaska town to get away from it all.

But innocent until proven guilty, right? Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna remembers thinking that when the family moved to the area.

"Speaking to the police here — Since the knowledge of them moving into town for the 11 months they lived on the Kenai — I know of no issues that occurred here in Alaska," Micciche said.

Even though the Wagners had moved back to Ohio, Micchiche says today's news has brought relief to the Kenai area.

"You saw some reactions, you know, finally! They were arrested,” he said. “I think generally there's some relief, although I think folks knew they were no longer in town. It's comforting to know they won't be coming back."

Micciche says his biggest concern is that the Wagners thought of the Kenai area as a place to lay low while the investigation continued.

Attorney General Dewine said the case will be taken to trial in Pike County Police court in Ohio.