Justice Delayed: The Murder of Mindy Schloss
Updated: Jul 31
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This murder happened in Anchorage, Alaska.
Alaska is the last frontier, a label intended to evoke feelings and qualities of the old west: self-sufficiency, rugged individualism necessitated by harsh geography and climate.
Alaska is also the most transient state. Only 41% of Alaskans were actually born there. The largest state in geography, but only 700,000 people live there. And of those people in and around Anchorage. People flow in and out and through Anchorage as a gateway to the remote parts of the enormous state. Professionals in Anchorage, often travel to the states remote regions to work in natural resource industries or to provide contracted services like medical care. For the people that live there, Anchorage has densely packed business and multi-use housing areas as well as quiet, large lot residential zones. One attractive aspect is a mix of greenbelts and parks woven into, and forming barriers between, various zoning districts. These parks feature 250 miles of trails that allow year-round foot, bike, and in winter, ski transit, connecting to almost anywhere in the city.
Mindy Schloss was born in Brooklyn, New York. As a young adult, she moved to Seattle, and still in her mid-twenties she came to Anchorage where she embarked on a career in nursing. Over the years, Mindy achieved several degrees: A bachelor's in nursing from the University of Alaska Anchorage, followed by masters degrees in public health, adult nurse practitioner and psychiatric nurse practitioner. By August of 2007, at 52 years old, Mindy Schloss was a woman with a challenging nursing career. She loved to travel the world for recreation and traveled extensively around Alaska for work.
She owned a house on Cutty Sark Street in Kincaid, a middle-class relatively peaceful enclave, situated, just southwest of Spenard. She had a long-term boyfriend who lived in his own house elsewhere in Anchorage. Mindy's busy life required that she employ a housekeeper. She also hired out maintenance and had a contractor making some improvements to her home.
People who knew Mindy said that she enjoyed her independent life, her profession, and the travel that allowed experience parts of remote Alaska that few ever see. Despite her love of travel, Mindy had recently decided to focus her work in Anchorage. She had signed a lease for office space in a nearby location, popular with medical professionals.
Unknown to Mindy, there was a man living next door who'd been watching her. From the window in the room he rented on Cutty Sark Street, he could see down into Mindy's windows. He could see that she was an attractive woman. And he could see when she was alone.
Anchorage is the land of the midnight sun. In early August, the sun sets around 10:30 PM and rises again about 4:30 AM. So in the early morning hours of August 4th, after the last light had faded, the man broke into Mindy's house as she slept. He violently attacked her. Raped her as she cried out for help. He was young and powerful and he came prepared with a gun and zip ties. He forced her to give up the pin to her bank card. Then he bound and gagged her. Secured her in the back of her small car. She then endured a drive at least 45 minutes away from her home and her life.
And when the car came to its destination, the man forced Mindy out onto a gravel road in a heavily wooded area. He made her walk into the woodline where he made her knee. Then he shot her in the back of the head, killing her instantly. The man got back into Mindy's car and drove back to Anchorage. He dumped the car in a lot near the airport and walked away.
Kathleen Hodges called Anchorage Police Department on August 7th, 2007. She was worried about her friend, Mindy Schloss. Hodges was calling from Fairbanks, about 350 miles north of Anchorage. Mindy hadn't shown up for work in Fairbanks, and she wasn't answering her phone. She hadn't told anyone she wasn't coming. And Mindy was a reliable person. Hodges knew, just showing up was unthinkable unless there was something seriously wrong. Other people were also concerned that Mindy had been unreachable.
Those concerns filtered through the Anchorage police department to Sgt. Slav Markovitz, head of the homicide unit. At APD, the homicide unit also triaged incoming missing person reports. It turned out that patrol had already been to the house to check for Mindy. They found nothing immediately alarming, but no Mindy. APD Detective Pam Paranoud went back to the house and took a closer look. What she found was suspicious. Mindy was not the kind of person to go off on announced. Her car and key personal effects were not in the house. During the first canvas. of the neighborhood a witness said they heard a woman scream out in the in the early morning hours on Saturday, but nothing else. The residence north of Mindy's place was quiet and nobody came to the door. Mindy's boyfriend was initially unreachable. Detectives talked to the housekeeper and the contractors with no solid leads.
Upon additional interviews in the neighborhood, two significant things came to light the residents at the house to the north where young, had loud gatherings, and were considered a nuisance by some. A woman came forward to report that one of the men living at that house had approached her. He asked that she not mentioned his presence to the police, ostensibly, because he had an unrelated arrest warrant. The woman said she thought the man's name was Josh.
This was a breakthrough conversation in the investigation. A potential suspect was actively trying to information from the police. When Detective Paranoud was able to corner the two young owners of that house, they admitted that they were renting a room to Joshua Wade.
From there, the case began picking up steam. Mindy's bank confirmed that two withdrawals for $500 had been made during the period that she was believed to be missing: one from near her house, the other off 36th Avenue in Spenard. Video from those transactions showed a male, wearing a blue coat, a baseball cap pulled down low and a bandana across his face. In one, the bandana slipped, exposing his chin, but still the picture quality was not good. Nor was the face exposed enough to make an immediate identification.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for the house and found several items. A, blue jacket, similar to one wornin the ATM camera, a receipt for one of the two $500 withdrawals, and a watch identified as belonging to Mindy. Mindy's red Acura was found where it was dumped at the airport, and some of Mindy's things were inside, but there was no clear indication of where she might be. And Wade was nowhere to be found.
The quick succession of revelations turbocharged the investigation. Turning it quickly from a missing person case into a manhunt for a suspected killer. Across APD additional resources were tasked for the effort. Detectives scoured the city, looking at locations linked to Wade. Line searches were conducted in parks, near Mindy's house. The FBI assisted with the investigation, flying up one of their bloodhound tracking teams. The two hounds were used independently, and each tracked a scent from where the car was dumped to the house on Cutty Sark and from the ATM all four miles to that. house. In an unusual move, large billboards, basically huge wanted posters, with Wade's photo were set up at major roadways in neighborhoods that he was likely to frequent.
On September 2nd, 2007, 29 days after Schloss went missing, the police department received a call from a woman who claimed to know Wade. She said she was calling because Wade was outside of her apartment, located on tutor road, a short distance east from the police department. When Wade realized the woman on the phone was talking to the police, he ran to a nearby apartment, forced his way inside and held a girl hostage. The police locked the area down. This was occurring in the middle of the day, near one of the busiest intersections in Anchorage. So after the police perimeter was set, the media started arriving. For a brief time, the entire city was focused on the drama at Tutor and Boniface. But it didn't last long. An APD negotiator successfully convinced Wade to come out. The media was able to take photos of Wade in handcuffs and a white wife beater shirt as he was placed in the back of a patrol car. In the background of these photos, SWAT and other officers could be seen securing their gear at the successful conclusion of the manhunt. Following his arrest, Wade was taken to the Anchorage police headquarters. He didn't say much and invoked his right to an attorney.
On September 13th, 2007, a worker serving a wooded area near the town of Wasilla ,about 45 miles north of Anchorage stumbled across decomposed human remains. Mindy was finally found after having been missing for 39 days.
All of Wade's accused crimes could be charged Alaska statute. Still, the charges were made under federal code, because that brings the ability to seek the death penalty. As the forensic processing progressed, Wade was initially charged with bank fraud for using Mindy's ATM card. The evidence in this case, all pointed to Wade: the ATM receipt, recovered stolen property, zip ties from the house that matched those on Mindy's body, DNA from the car, and data from Wade's phone, and a photo showing Wade with the same make and model of gun used to kill Mindy.
After months of a awaiting a death penalty trial, Wade made a plea deal with prosecutors. He would admit to killing both Mindy Schloss and Della Brown. And in return, the death off the table. Wade was headed to life in prison at Spring Creek Correctional Facility in Seward, Alaska.
Wade was then sentenced in 2009 for the murder of Mindy Schloss. The judge chastised Wade for preying on innocent women, and Wade angrily shouted at the judge, "what about all the men I killed?!" The judge then invited him to talk about those men, but Wade's defense attorney took control of his client.
Fast forward to June 20th, 2014 . The FBI released the following statement:
"The Alaska Department of Law, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Alaska, Anchorage Police Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigations Alaska Office are working together to investigate claims made by convicted killer Joshua Wade, that he murdered three people in addition to Anchorage residents, Della Brown and Mindy Schloss. In 2009, Wade pled guilty and was convicted of carjacking and killing Mindy Schloss in 2007. As part of that conviction, Wade also admitted to murdering Della brown in 2000. The Alaska Superior Court imposed a sentence of 99 years to serve, and the United States District Court imposed a consecutive sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the overall conduct.
The original sentences imposed against Wade required that he be imprisoned for at least 66 years by the State of Alaska Department of Corrections before being eligible for parole on the state conviction. If Wade was paroled, he would then be transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve the balance of his life behind bars for the federal conviction, with no possibility of release.
Under the terms of an agreement later reached between Wade and state and federal law enforcement, Wade agreed to provide information about three murders that he claims responsibility for committing. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to transfer Wade from the state prison to a maximum security federal prison outside of Alaska to serve his life sentence. Wade told Anchorage Police Detectives and Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he is responsible for the murder of a man in Anchorage in 1994 and for the murder of another man in Anchorage in 1999. Law enforcement believes Wade is referring to the unsolved murders of 38 year old John Michael Martin in 1994 and 30 year old Henry Ongtowasruk in 1999. We had also stated that he killed an unidentified man on the same night that he murdered Della Brown in 2000.
Mark: I'm Mark Rein and I'm here with Marcy. So, let's talk about this case.
Marcy: Yeah, this is such sad case.
Mark: Many of the personal details of Mindy Schloss came from her obituary and public statements made by friends. I really felt her because her story was so relatable to me and many other Alaskans. Marcy, you're a nurse who has traveled to remote of the state to provide service to people. A lot of professionals in Alaska do this either with roles government, or as contracted professionals filling a specific need.
Marcy: Yeah. She went to my alma mater UAA and she got a Master's in Public Health like me. She traveled the state for work like I did and I've actually worked several travel jobs where I lived alone for periods and I never felt comfortable being alone and this case is one of the reasons. That feeling that if it could happen to her it could happen to me.
Mark: The missing persons report here is reverse from a lot of incidents. Many times, people from Anchorage traveling to the bush were missing, you know, kind of out there somewhere. Anchorage people would go to Kodiak or the Southeast and go missing while hiking or fishing and our role at APD was coordination with people or organizations in those remote areas.
Marcy: Is it true that you have to wait 24 or 48 hours to report a missing person?
Mark: Well the easy answer is no, you don't to wait. But the response you get depends on how the report is received. Keeping in mind that most people, uh, in missing person reports are not missing due to a problem, they just can't be reached for one reason or another. On patrol because of the areas I worked, I ran into missing people regularly. And those people would often say, "oh, that reports for my mom or that's my husband. And I don't want to talk to them."
Marcy: I remember as a dispatcher telling people that adults have the right to decide not to talk to you.
Mark: Yeah. It's the right of adults to go off unannounced or to be delayed somewhere. That's common. Part of the misunderstanding about this, people who hear about this are appalled if they hear that someone's missing and the police aren't actively searching for them. The sad reality is that there are so many missing person reports coming in on a daily basis that if departments started an immediate ground search, anytime they came in, that's all they would do. So on the street, we'd clear missing person reports. When we ran into people that we could identify, uh, we clear them from the computer system, but I'd always encourage those individuals to contact whoever made the initial report and smooth things over. Missing person reports are kind of triaged by patrol officers, dispatchers as they come in, who take the initial report and then those are reviewed by the Sergeant of Homicide.
Marcy: So what do they look for when they're reviewing those reports?
Mark: Well, both for patrol and when it reaches Sergeant Markowitz in homicide, that assessment is more art than science. There's a lot of judgment of how suspicious the situation is. I'll cover more on missing persons in a subsequent episode, but I can say that some cases are immediately alarming and the search starts right then. Some not so much. For example, a person who is a known addict, who has disappeared a lot in the past, maybe frequently disappears for days at a time. It's not going to get as much immediate attention, you know, minus any other compelling details. In general, subject's vulnerability, if they're young, if they have medical conditions. Those kinds of things increase the urgency.
Marcy: What was it about the Mindy Schloss report that triggered a more robust response?
Mark: So most of this crime occurred on that Saturday morning, a friend called the next day and patrol went out, but no one was home, nothing was immediately alarming. Her coworker called in from Fairbank's the next day, which is Monday. So multiple people calling in with their concerns, separately, coupled with certain details. That's what got the ball rolling. She was a dependable working professional and a woman who lived alone, which increases the appearance of vulnerability. But the urgency only grew as the week passed. And there's still no word. With that, the more intense process cranks up.
Marcy: After she's not at home and she's not at work, where do you look?
Mark: You're gonna start with your inner circle and, and work out. And this basically applies to any missing persons report that comes in, that we're gonna, you know, that's suspicious enough that we're gonna immediately start working or, or work after a period of time. You know, she had a boyfriend. He's not around. We're gonna find out where he's at. It turns out he was out of town on a job, just like she was at different location. So you look at the house cleaner, the contractors, the friends, the coworkers. Who might seem suspicious? Who's not acting quite right? You know, these interviews take time. The next level of inquiry after those, the phone records and banking, takes a little longer. As you work your way out, you begin to look at the neighborhood. Preliminary canvas, like in this case, will be quick. So you got to do that likely maybe the first day. You're hoping to find a neighbor who says, "oh, Mindy, She said she was going to lake. She drove out there Sunday". But in this case that didn't happen. So when they didn't get anything in the immediate circle of associates, they went back to comb the neighborhood later.
Marcy: What you described as pretty systematic. Is that how all types of crimes are worked?
Mark: Yes, basically, and particularly in unknown suspect cases. I started my detective time in burglary. The definition of burglary is unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime. Now, this can be unlawful entry with the intent to commit any crime, but usually burglary is associated with theft. My time in burglary was frustrating because you're trying to prove a crime that no one saw happened. And about this time in my personal life, I had to do a research project. So I studied burglary. What I found, is there a lot of consistencies in these investigations that hold true with investigating other crimes. For example, burglaries are most often committed by people with inside information: family members, friends, hired workers, neighbors.
Marcy: Why is that?
Mark: Well, they know you have something worth taking because they've seen it. They've been inside your house or they been outside your house. They know things that are going on. I remember one of the books I read describes a factor as "the outwardly apparent signs of occupant prosperity", which basically means that if your neighbors can see you have good stuff through the front window, you're at greater risk of having your house burg'd. Also houses on corners, or that have a foot path that runs along the property are at greater risk. It's easier for a suspect to see inside, scope for activity. The public access allows for them to case the area and not to stick out as someone who doesn't belong.
Marcy: Right. So even if cops stopped them, they can still say that they were just walking on the sidewalk or on the trail, minding in their own business.
Mark: Burglars, most often hit places they're familiar with. There are many who travel from the poorest areas of town to the richest to commit a burglary.
Mark: Well, they aren't comfortable there. They feel like they don't belong. They feel exposed. In their own neighborhood, they know what's going on. It's always amazed me when I went to a break-in at some home where there's obviously very little value or like the only thing that was taken was the new TV they just bought. You know, that wasn't just some random person who opened a random door. Someone knew what they were going to steal and when the coast would be clear.
Marcy: And that's why you nag me not to post vacation photos on Facebook?
Mark: Yes! Tell everyone about your fabulous trip. Only after you returned. It's operational security.Travel information should be a need to know only basis. I once worked a string of burglaries where a guy's house was hit five times. He was so mad at me because I hadn't caught the burglar. He'd call me and just start screaming when I answered the phone. I knew it was going to be inside job. Every time they would leave the house for an extended period of time, they'd get hit. It was weird because the guy also didn't want me to interview his kids. It turned out that it was his daughter's best friend's boyfriend and what he was really breaking into the house for was dad's marijuana stash. Now that's some insight information.
Marcy: Okay. So why are you bringing up burglary, when we're talking about the Mindy Schloss murder?
Mark: First, legally, this crime started as a burglary. But I also bring up the related information stuff, because I want to make a point about how Wade was detected. Wade was a classic burglar who had inside information and he was identified using the standard investigative circle that spiraled out from Mindy Schloss' home. Wade was very comfortable in the area. He waited until he could see that she was asleep and vulnerable. He didn't break in on a night she had people over, and he committed the crime he wanted to. When he finally gave his account of the crime, he said he unexpectedly encountered Schloss, had to tie her up and only then returned to his house for a weapon and restraints.
Marcy: It seems like if he was trying to avoid encountering anybody at home while breaking in, he would have done it during the day after she left for work or left town.
Mark: Well, this is how it was reported. I'm quoting the local paper " sometime in the early hours of August 4th, Wade broke into her house. Wade said he had intended just to burglarize the home, according to the court file. He restrained her with some clothing, then went back to his house to get gloves, zip ties, tape, and the 45 caliber Glock he had recently purchased. He returned to the house, gagged her, then bound her with the zip ties. I know Wade's account is bullshit. Wade did not unexpectedly encounter Mindy. He broke in for the purpose of doing to her something like he did to Della Brown. But Della was a target of opportunity. With Mindy, he had a front row seat, so he watched and waited and attacked. There's no doubt in my mind that he brought the tools he needed with him. Denying the premeditation is just his way of deflecting blame.
Marcy: When did this case pop up on your radar?
Mark: Oh, I had heard there was a woman missing, but I didn't have all the details. I was a Sergeant of Sexual Assault. One of my Detectives, Dodie Warren had a side duty as a crime scene technician. I was sitting in my office. Dodie, came in and sat down. He said, " Sarge, I have a call-out on the missing nurse off Kincaid." I said, okay. I didn't really think much of it. He leaned in. Quietly said, "Sarge, Josh Wade lives next." Dody knew I was the one who found Della Brown's body.
Marcy: Did you just want to lose your shit right then and there?
Mark: I knew right then that this was what the entire detective division was going to focus on for the next few weeks. My office was at the sex assault response center near the hospital. So I jumped in my car and went over to the police station and into the homicide unit where things were already buzzing. The revelation about Joshua Wade was still new, but they were already shifting into taskforce mode.
Marcy: What does that mean?
Mark: They're bringing a lot of resources. The FBI was going to assign some people to us. Detective units were tasked with various support duties. Keep in mind that normal operations still had to go on. Other priority cases had to be worked. Detectives still had court. But anyone who didn't have something pressing was going to be enlisted to help. Later in my career, I became the coordinator for our volunteer search team, but the Schloss case was the first time that I ever ran a line search.
Marcy: DId you immediately think that Mindy was going to be dead?
Mark: There were a few times in my career that I knew the missing subject was going to be dead. When I was briefed on Mindy Schloss' case for the first time, I knew she wasn't alive because of what I knew about Wade. Lots of these cases develop like a Polaroid, slowly as pieces of information is gathered through interviews, forensic evidence is analyzed and those results come in. In this case, I felt like part of the photo was already developed from the Della Brown case. It was just a matter of who would be in the picture.
Marcy: So what happened next?
Mark: After the search warrant revelations, the FBI flew its bloodhound team up from the lower 48.
Marcy: So for the listener, Alaskans often refer to the other states as the lower 48.
Mark: I mentioned Detective Dodie Warren was in Sex Assault, but was also a crime scene guy. He was tasked with going with the dogs. When he came back to the office, he told me what happened. The two hounds had tracked from the ATM in Spernard along the streets, down foot paths, through wooded park land, and led back to the house on Cutty Sark. He said he was exhausted because the dogs just ran and ran and ran for miles. The track through the parks was unmarked And Dodie said that there were times when he didn't know where they were, but then they will pop out under a familiar street and they were still headed towards Mindy Schloss' house. He said he was amazed that the FBI guys didn't have any idea where they were and the dogs certainly didn't, but they led directly to the scene. I've since looked at the area they traversed it's mainly trails through wooded park land. The distance would have been about four miles and Dodie did it more than once. So no wonder he was tired.
Marcy: So when dogs track, there's always an officer that escorts the dog and their handler for safety, right? Is that what Detective Warren's role was?
Mark: Yes, the FBI handlers go all over the country. So they probably don't have a lot of knowledge about the area they're searching. Dodie's role in this was as the local liaison, he provided security, he had a local radio communications and he had the interest in the crime scene. If they had run across evidence during the track, they would have paused long enough for him to call in support and photograph and collect. When I was researching for this episode, I saw that there was a video attached to the, authors page who wrote one of the books about this crime called Ice and Bone. On the video, you can see the dog, the handler and the back of a female FBI agent. I was happy to see her. That's Jolene, the FBI agent, who I worked with in human trafficking cases when I was a Vice Detective. I'll talk more about that at another time. Back to the video, the video actually shows one of the dogs as it was arriving at Wade's house and then goes next door to Mindy's house. I'll attach a link to that video. At the end of the day, the FBI handlers gave Detective Warren a pin. He showed it off proudly around the unit, like a trophy. It was round maybe the size of a quarter. On the face, it had the picture of the dogs and it said, "I ran with the FBI bloodhounds".
Marcy: Was your whole unit assigned to work on this case?
Mark: Detective Warren was one of six or seven detectives in my unit. The others when they weren't working priority cases, helped with canvassing and with ground searches when those started. The wanted billboards featuring Wade's face, turned out to be a double-edged sword for my unit. We had several reports of sexual assaults where the victim said the attacker was "the guy from the sign", meaning Wade. Based on the facts of those cases we were doubtful. For one of those, the bloodhound team agreed to try a track that would confirm the presence of Wade's scent there. That assault had occurred in the alley near a liquor store in the Fairview neighborhood. When the rented minivan carrying the hounds arrived, the handler went through the procedure to cast the dog. The dog moved around the alley with this nose to the ground, and then lifted his head and looked at us with no interest or urgency. The handler said he hasn't been here. Meaning Wade. I thanked him. And as they parted, one of the agents handed me the same "I ran with the bloodhound" pin as Dodie got, Later Dodie asked me how long I had to track to get the pin. I laughed and said, "yeah, I walked about 20 feet". He was unimpressed.
Marcy: Did the dogs also search for her body?
Mark: The area Mindy Schloss lived in is close to some of the largest parks and greenbelts in the city. The bloodhounds had been great at tracking between the car and the ATM and the house, but inconclusive in the park areas. What I've learned about searches since this time is that you really need to spend investigative time focused on narrowing the scope of the area to be searched. Whether that's looking at cell data, CCTV cameras, canvassing, or interviewing, you must narrow the focus as much as possible to maximize your chances of success. Some of these parks were just enormous.
Marcy: How did they decide where else to search?
Mark: In this case, I think we just picked close areas where we thought it'd be easy to get rid of a body. I helped run line searches with as many officers, detectives and FBI agents that could be speared. And we found nothing. Worse, I came away with the feeling that even if something had been in the area, we could have missed it easily. I've since worked searches where that has happened. The target of the search is later discovered in an area that was already searched after spending hours looking. It's painful. Whatever can be done to narrow the focus for overland searches is worth the time.
Marcy: But they ended up finding Mindy Schloss' body in a place far away from any of the search areas.
Mark: Yeah. It turned out that the actual murder scene would be near the town of Wasslla about 45 minutes north of Anchorage. There was a new subdivision about to be built in a wooded area. The gravel access road had been completed, but none of the lots had been cleared yet. Wade pulled down the road, killed Mindy just inside the treeline on one of those lots. A survey worker found her body about a month later.
Marcy: You responded to the scene where they found her, didn't you?
Mark: She was found in an afternoon. Our crime scene team worked the body overnight. In the morning, I went out there with several other detectives and we searched the area. It had been lined out with one square meter sections and we painstakingly combed through each. I personally didn't find anything of value, but on a break, I sat down on a wooded slope and watched some of the people searching below me. It was Alaska. Beautiful, quiet, peaceful. A horrible thing that occurred there, but I was thankful that it wasn't like the shed at 32nd and
Marcy: The man has lasted a month. Wade's face was all over the place. How come it took so long to find him?
Mark: I still find it was unbelievable that with the refreshed coverage of Della Brown, the highly publicized missing person case of Mindy Schloss, and the active man hunt for Wade, he still had people willing to hide him. And I think it's great that a woman he knew finally gave him up. She actually stayed on the phone with dispatch and updated exactly where he was headed. It was pretty bold for him to be out in public during the day, a two minute drive from the APD main station. I love that the media was there to photograph the aftermath of the arrest. Wade looking every bit, the scumbag he is. The police in their tactical gear looking victorious.
Marcy: He didn't give an interview. Did he?
Mark: Not really. He did do something, I found interesting. Homicide detectives told Wade they would like to talk to him and there were sexual assault detectives that wanted to speak with him about cases they were working where he was the named suspect. He called his attorney and told the homicide detectives, he didn't want to give a statement
Marcy: That whole right to remain silent thing.
Mark: Yeah, I thought, well, that's it. Then after a few minutes later, he called us back in saying he wanted to talk to the sexual assault detectives. I went in and told him we wouldn't talk to him because of what he and his attorney had decided over the phone. He told me he didn't care, he wanted to talk to us about those cases anyway. I told him to call his attorney back and speak to her about it. He called her and she was confused, so I explained the situation. She told Wade not to say anything. But he was angry. He yelled at her, eventually hanging up the phone. It was weird. I think yelled at her and swore at his lawyer because she was a woman telling him what to do. So I called the DA, and after consultation was told to proceed with our interviews, but narrowly focused on the sexual assaults. Anything he said about the murder without our prompting would be admissible. So I sent two of my detectives in, who laid out some of the case details we had on those sexual assault cases. And he vigorously, repeatedly denied having anything to do with those incidents. You know, his denial seemed like what we'd expect for someone who didn't do what we were talking about. Basically, I believed him based on what he was saying, the way he's saying it and the facts of the cases. We only wanted to interview him because he was the name suspect. What was interesting is how vehemently he denied being involved in sexual assaults, compared to when he was asked about Mindy Schloss. There was a different reaction. Immediately. "I need my lawyer."
Marcy: Do you think Mindy Schloss was sexually assaulted?
Mark: Yes. So, I took the FBI course on Deviant Sexual Behavior. I remember them talking about nighttime residential burglaries. See most residential burglaries occurred during the day, when people are out of the house. Most commercial burglaries happen at night when no one's at the business. The nighttime residential burglar is a rare bird. It's a high-risk crime. The suspect is likely to encounter people. The profile of that offender is more like a thrill seeker. There's a sexual component, like a peeping Tom or a guy who exposes himself to women in public. So with that in mind, Mindy's remains were decomposed to the point that a sexual assault determination was not possible. But when you consider nighttime residential burglary, his prior actions with Della Brown, I know that sexual assault was his real motivation. The money and property he stole were just a bonus to him.
Marcy: Do you think others working this case agreed with you?
Mark: Well, here's how it was written by Megan Holland, the Anchorage Daily News. I'm quoting, "the plea agreement and sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday made no word of Wade sexually assaulting Schloss, but pre-trial court filings talked about Wade being a sexual predator. And prosecutors say a witness heard a woman calling out "Rape!" and screaming for help that night.
Marcy: Did you have any other involvement in that case?
Mark: No, but because of my ties to this case, I kept pretty close tabs on the status. All of Wade's charges could have been made under Alaska criminal statute. Because of the bank card fraud. And I think the kidnapping, this could be charged under US code and the murder related charges made Wade eligible for the death penalty. This strategy was less about executing Wade than about applying pressure.
Marcy: What do you mean?
Mark: Well, Wade was a tightly wrapped, angry, misogynistic kind of guy. Aside from the crimes we know he committed, it was apparent during his interactions. He lashed out at the female prosecutors and the Della Brown murder for laughing during a court recess. What they were laughing about didn't have anything to do with him. He told his female attorney off and spoke to us about the rapes because he was angry, according to him, "bitches were saying shit about him that he didn't do." Prosecutors knew the death penalty would be pressure. I had seen it used in other cases to flip a lesser involved co-defendant. In one case, we flipped the guy who lied on a loan application. It turns out you can spend considerable time in prison for misrepresenting the value of your assets. Tactics like these are not the norm, but in some cases like serial murder, you pull out the big guns. And the strategy worked. Word came from where Wade was being held, that he was freaking out about the death penalty. That's why he pleaded and admitted to both murders.
Marcy: What do you think about him blurting out that he killed men?
Mark: If you look at the Della Brown case, he showed off this defenseless woman he brutally murdered to people because he wanted everyone to think he was a bad-ass. So when the judge publicly exposed him for the weasel that he is, he couldn't stand it. Now I didn't go back and look at the male victims he's taking credit for, but I just know it wasn't a stand-up face-to-face fair fight. Wade is the guy to be feared only when you are completely vulnerable. The unfortunate thing about the exchange with the judge is that Josh is unlikely to give us any more female victims. I'm not alone in believing that there are some. My hope is that there are people who know about other victims and they will eventually come forward. Or maybe they'll tell somebody and the police will get a second hand. Thinking about this makes me glad we got him when we did. He learned after Della Brown to cover his tracks better. But not well enough.
Marcy: Why do you think he wanted to go to the federal prison system? Is Spring Creek that horrible?
Mark: Spring Creek in Seward is Alaska's maximum security prison. It has a reputation of being a soft prison by many. But over the years, very high profile prisoners have complained about their treatment from other prisoners. Just as Wade tried to use Della Brown to prove he was a tough guy, he could be targeted by other inmates trying to bolster their self-esteem. Wade has a reputation of being a racist, which he denie. But he killed at least two Alaska Native people. That probably didn't endear him to that group of inmates. The federal prison system is huge and it might allow him greater anonymity.
Marcy: Is there anything else you want to say about this case?
Mark: Yes. This suspect, these cases have got a lot of attention in the media. I was contacted by a British production company about it just a couple of weeks ago. What I want to do in my podcast is give you a cop's-eye view and maybe some interesting background to some of the major cases I was involved in. In future podcasts, where we cover cases I wasn't involved in, I chose those because I have what I hope is an interesting take on the crime. With the Josh Wade cases, these events were prominent in the careers of the people who worked on them. Like many complex investigations, there was success and failure. As I refresh my memories for this podcast, I've had a wide range of emotions. This can be a cruel world and few know that better than the victims described here. This saddens me. But I'm also filled with pride as I remember the people who worked together to ensure that there would be one less monster roaming the streets.
One of my jobs as a police Sergeant was to address incoming complaints. It was surprising to me how many of those were based on our lack of communication or explanation of what we were doing or what our role in law enforcement really is. So over time, I began to see the value of complaints as not only addressing when we may have done something wrong, but as an opportunity to clarify where there was misunderstanding. Likewise, in this program, I want to provide insight and perspective as to what police officers and investigators do and why.
So with that in mind, if you have a question about police procedure, that you want me to talk about, or I have an interesting case you'd like me to cover. Please email me.
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