Joshua Wade tearfully apologized in Anchorage courts Wednesday for murdering two Anchorage women in random acts of violence in 2000 and 2007.
For his confessions, Wade was spared a potential death penalty had he been convicted in federal court.
"What an evil thing he has done," said U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline in telling Wade he would spend the rest of his life in prison. "What kind of person could find pleasure in the random destruction of another human life?"
The day closed a decade-long saga on the 2000 Della Brown murder, a slaying that Wade originally confessed to but then recanted. A 2003 jury acquitted him of murder but convicted him of evidence tampering. In 2007, just months after he was freed from prison in that case, he killed again, this time targeting his next-door neighbor, nurse Mindy Schloss.
In court Wednesday, Wade hinted he might have more victims. As Beistline was telling Wade he was "a heartless, selfish human being," Wade, with his eyes still watery from his confession, interrupted the judge: "Don't push it, man. I don't give a f--- about you. Don't sit there and push it," Wade said.
"I'm going to push it," Beistline responded, and said something about Wade's targeting of women.
"What about the men?" Wade blurted.
"I don't know about the men you've killed," Beistline said.
The judge later said in court that Wade's outburst was "very revealing" and said that type of anger could have been one of the last things Schloss experienced, and underscores that Wade needs to be put away forever.
After sentencing, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said she didn't know what Wade meant by the comment, that it might have just been bravado. She said she doesn't know of any other victims.
Anchorage Police Department Detective Pam Perrenoud, who worked the Schloss case, said, "We'll certainly be looking into anything that we can."
Wade's father, Greg "Bubba" Wade, reached after the proceedings, said, "I was so impressed, I thought there was real remorse with my son. Then he opened his ... mouth. Then he showed his true face."
LIFE IN PRISON
Wade, 29, was arraigned, pleaded guilty and was sentenced all within a couple of hours Wednesday morning in Alaska Superior Court for the Schloss murder. His admission of also murdering Brown in 2000 meant a long sentence of 99 years. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 95 years old. If he lives that long, the federal sentence of "life in prison" for the conviction of carjacking related to Schloss' death that he also confessed to Wednesday would kick in. The deal ensures Wade never gets out.
The unusual plea agreement may have been influenced by Wade's request to serve his time in an Alaska prison, not a federal penitentiary, Loeffler said.
One of Wade's defense attorneys, Adam Bartlett, in asking the state court to accept the deal cut with prosecutors, said: "Mr. Wade has entered his plea sincerely and contritely. He's here to bring closure to the victims' family and his own family to salvage his own humanity."
While Wade's defense attorneys said their client made inexcusable mistakes in the senseless murders, they've gotten to know the other side of him. "He is not the monster that people see him to be," said attorney Gilbert Levy.
Levy explained Wade's troubled past, including sexual abuse and how he tried to commit suicide at 10 years old by drowning himself in a bathtub. Multiple mental hospitalizations and drug abuse followed.
Levy emphasized that Wade's crimes were not sex offenses. Reiterating that, at several points during the court proceedings Wade shook his head saying "no" when there was mention of his being a sexual predator. In the outburst to the judge about the male victims, he said, "I'm not a predator."
A decade ago, police believed he raped and murdered Brown. He was never charged with sexually assaulting Schloss, although there was mention of him being a "sexual predator" in the pre-trial court filings.
State prosecutor John Novak said, "It was never proven and he never acknowledged it." But, he said, there had been testimony in 2003 about it.
WADE SPEAKS TO FAMILIES
Wade addressed his victims' families twice on Wednesday, once during each court procedure. When it was his turn to speak in the morning, a tearful Wade turned his chair to the victims' families and asked them for permission to talk to them. Before he began, he said: "I don't want you take it as any form of disrespect but I don't address these women by name because I don't feel that I have the right to. I think that would be a further insult to you if I speak their names, so I won't."
In fact, Wade may not have known their names when he committed the crimes against them -- bashing the 33-year-old Brown's head in with a rock in a filthy Spenard shed, shooting the 52-year-old Schloss in the back of the head with a .45-caliber Glock while she was bound with zip ties, wearing only a bathrobe, in a patch of woods in Wasilla.
A decade ago, police said Wade found Brown passed-out drunk, then killed her in a rage after robbing and raping her.
Investigators say Wade sneaked into Schloss' house in the middle of the night -- Wade said it started as a simple burglary -- kidnapped her and drove her to the Valley in her own car before executing her. He later stole $1,000 from her bank account.
In his confessional speeches, Wade told the courtrooms about how he failed to make the right choices in his life. After doing time for evidence tampering in the Brown case, he planned to turn his life around. But he didn't. "I chose the path of destruction and failure," he said.
He told them he was truly sorry for what he did but did not expect their forgiveness. He had hoped to become a tattoo artist after getting out of prison, but his emotions over his own abuse as a child and later rejection in love "festered and built into a murderous rage."
"I'm sorry. It doesn't seem like a strong enough word, but I'm sorry," he said. "I wish I could give my life to give your loved ones back to you but that's not going to happen."
"I understand I wasn't born bad but at some point in my life I decided to be bad."
FAMILIES GLAD IT'S OVER
The family members and friends of the victims spoke about their losses during both court proceedings. Robert Conway, Schloss' longtime boyfriend, said he crawled through dumpsters, combed Cook Inlet beaches, and walked the railways trying to find his girlfriend's body after she vanished. Her body was found six weeks later in Wasilla. It had been partially burned.
Brown's mother, Daisy Piggott, didn't speak but wore a white T-shirt with a photo of her daughter printed on it. Brown's son, Robert, said simply, "I'm glad it's over. I'm glad it's done."
Officials didn't know yet what prison Wade will be housed in.
By MEGAN HOLLAND
Alaska Dispatch Publishing