Acquitted man acknowledges killing two

Joshua Alan Wade plans to plead guilty today in federal court

Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man acquitted of murdering a woman now acknowledges that he killed her by smashing her head with a rock and seven years later broke into his neighbor's house and shot her to death, according to court papers filed Tuesday.

Joshua Alan Wade, 29, plans to plead guilty today in federal court to first-degree murder and carjacking for the August 2007 slaying of Mindy Schloss, a nurse practitioner who lived next door to him.

In a signed plea agreement with federal prosecutors for that crime, he also stated that he was responsible for the September 2000 killing of Della Brown, an Alaska Native woman whose battered, partially-clothed body was found in an abandoned shed in Anchorage.

If the judge accepts the agreement, Wade will avoid the death penalty for the Schloss killing and be sentenced Wednesday to 99 years in prison without the possibility of parole, and waive his right to appeal.

"Joshua Wade will spend the rest of his life behind bars," according to the documents.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers declined to comment but said they would speak after Wednesday's hearing.

Wade was acquitted of Brown's murder, even though he told friends he killed her. Witnesses said Wade bragged about killing Brown, 33, and having sex with the corpse - and even took them to a shed to show off the body.

At the trial, Wade's lawyer persuaded the jury that his client was only trying to impress his criminal friends with a made-up story. He was found not guilty of murder and rape but convicted of tampering with evidence and sentenced to 6½ years in prison.

Wade now says he killed Brown, according to the plea agreement that spells out how Schloss' murder happened:

Shortly after he got out of prison for the tampering conviction - and less than two weeks before Schloss, 52, was killed - Wade moved into a house next door in which his bedroom gave him an unrestricted view of her kitchen.

About a week after moving in, he obtained a handgun and showed it off to his roommates, and took cell phone pictures holding the gun while activating the pistol's mounted red-laser sight.

On Aug. 3, 2007, Wade's roommates had a loud party at their house. Next door, Schloss stayed up late and e-mailed her friends on her laptop, logging off after midnight.

Sometime that same early morning, Wade broke into her home and bound her with a piece of clothing, intending to rob her. He left but returned later with the loaded pistol and a collection of restraints and gags. Wade zip-tied Schloss' hands, gagged her with a shop rag and wrapped blue painter's tape around her head.

He then drove her in her own car to Wasilla, an hour's drive north of Anchorage. She lay bound in the back seat clothed only in a bathrobe. Wade parked the car, walked her into the woods and shot her execution-style in the back of the head.

Wade returned to Schloss' home, vacuumed the crime scene, made up her bed and stole her gold watch, then drove her car to an area near the airport and abandoned it.

Over the next two days, he used Schloss' ATM card to withdraw $1,000. A withdrawal slip was later found in a jacket pocket. At some point, he tried to burn the body.

Charging documents said that Schloss was tortured before she died.

Alaska doesn't have the death penalty, but Wade was indicted in federal court with shooting and killing someone during a carjacking - and federal law allows the death penalty.

Federal prosecutors pushed for Wade's case to be the first capital punishment case in Alaska since before statehood. They had planned to call an expert to testify that Wade was a violent sexual predator in arguing for the death penalty.

"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 the court documents.

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