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Who was Joshua Wade? Alaska serial killer who murdered 5 people dies in Indiana prison at age 44

Trigger warning: This article contains references to sexual assault.

Joshua Wade, an Alaska serial killer who confessed to killing five people between 1994 and 2007, died at the age of 44. On June 14, 2024, Wade was found unconscious in his cell at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead, according to PEOPLE. The Indiana Department of Correction announced his death and said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.

Early crimes and conviction

Wade's criminal activities began when he was 14 years old. In 1994, he murdered 38-year-old John Michael Martin. Five years later, in 1999, he murdered 30-year-old Henry Ongtowasruk. These early murders paved the way for his violent career.

Wade murdered Della Brown in Anchorage in 2000 and her body was discovered in a shed. Wade was initially charged with murder, but a jury found him guilty of witness tampering and acquitted him of murder and sexual assault charges.

The murder of Mindy Schloss

Wade continued his violent streak even after completing his probation for witness tampering. In 2007, he kidnapped and killed his neighbor, nurse Mindy Schloss. Investigators found that Wade had tortured Schloss before shooting her. Her body was discovered more than a month later 40 miles from Anchorage. Wade pleaded guilty in 2009 to carjacking and murdering Schloss. As part of his sentence, he admitted to killing Della Brown nearly a decade earlier.

Wade confessed to murdering another, unidentified man the same night he killed Della Brown in 2000. He later told Anchorage police and FBI agents about his previous murders, expanding his list of victims. These confessions led to his conviction and sentence.

Wade was sentenced to 99 years in prison by an Alaska state court, and a federal court sentenced him to life without parole. Wade expressed remorse during the state sentencing, telling the victims' families, “I deserve much worse. I'm sorry.”

But his sentencing in federal court was marked by a tense exchange with U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline, who called Wade's actions “evil.” Wade responded defiantly, telling the judge, “Don't overdo it, man.”

Life and death in prison

Wade was born in Great Falls, Montana, but moved to Alaska as a child. He grew up with his father in Anchorage and spent time in juvenile detention centers as a teenager. His violent acts have been cited as an example of the high rate of violent crime against Alaska Natives.

Wade was transferred to Indiana State Prison in 2014 after reaching a plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors in Alaska. Despite his incarceration, the FBI continued to investigate Wade's crimes, particularly the identity of the man he confessed to killing in 2000.

Disclaimer: If you need support or know someone who is struggling with domestic violence, assault or abuse, please contact your nearest mental health professional, NGO or talk to someone about it. There are several helplines for such cases.

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