Crime & Courts

Alaska serial killer Joshua Wade dies in Indiana prison

Serial killer Joshua Wade, who claimed responsibility for the deaths of five people in Alaska, died in an Indiana prison last Friday, the Indiana Department of Correction said.

On June 14, Wade was “found unresponsive in his cell at the Indiana State Prison” in Michigan City, Indiana, said Brandi Pahl, a spokesperson for the department. “Despite life-saving measures being performed, he was pronounced dead.”

Convicted of state and federal crimes in Alaska, Wade had been transferred to an Indiana federal prison in 2014 after a deal with state and federal prosecutors moved him out of Alaska.

Born in Great Falls, Montana, Wade moved to Anchorage as a young child, according to past news coverage. He lived in Anchorage with his father, spending much of his teenage years in juvenile jail.

In 2000, at age 20, Wade killed Della Brown, whose body was found in a Spenard shed. He later admitted to killing a second man on the same night.

Wade went on trial for Brown’s death, but despite having shown her body to several acquaintances, he was acquitted of sexual assault and murder charges. He was convicted of witness tampering.

The case was seen as highlighting injustices against Alaska Native crime victims.


In 2007, having just completed his probation from the 2000 case, Wade killed again, kidnapping and murdering his Sand Lake neighbor Mindy Schloss, a nurse practitioner. Schloss was missing for more than a month before her body was found in Wasilla. Prosecutors said she was tortured before Wade shot her to death.

“The fact that he chose to kill again, and kill quickly, demonstrates his indifference to human life, his inability to be rehabilitated, and his omnipresent danger to society,” prosecutors wrote in court documents filed at the time.

Wade was charged with both state and federal crimes for the slaying of Schloss, and in a 2010 plea agreement received multiple life sentences from the state and federal charges. In the plea agreement, he admitted to killing Brown.

After serving years at Spring Creek Correctional Center, Alaska’s maximum-security prison, Wade made a deal with law enforcement investigators: He claimed responsibility for three additional unsolved deaths in exchange for serving the rest of his sentence outside of Alaska, at a federal prison.

He told investigators he was responsible for the deaths of John Michael Martin, 38, in 1994, when Wade was just 14, and of Henry Ongtowasruk, 30, in 1999. Both men suffered from mental illness. Wade also told prosecutors he killed a man on the night he killed Della Brown, according to an FBI statement.

Wade was moved to a maximum-security prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. It is not clear why or when he was transferred to the state prison system in Indiana instead.

Wade was 44. An autopsy is being performed.

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Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.