Homicide suspect Allen Wade has history of crime and alleged violence
March 5, 2014 11:56 PM
Police take Allen Wade, 43, from police headquarters on the North Side toward Allegheny County Jail on Wednesday.
By Liz Navratil and Jonathan D. Silver / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The man accused of fatally shooting two sisters in the head and leaving their chemical-doused bodies in the basement of their East Liberty home posted on Facebook shortly before his arrest Wednesday that he respects women and "would never, ever in any way hurt a person so brutally."
But court records portray Allen D. Wade, 43, who lived next door to Susan and Sarah Wolfe on Chislett Street, as a man with a history of alleged violence toward women and a planner capable of orchestrating a complex crime.
And in paperwork prepared for Wade's arrest in the double homicide, it was clear he liked guns. Police wrote that Wade had bought eight firearms from 1997 to 2002.
Wade, a convicted felon, lived under the radar in the few months since he moved into one unit of a triplex next to the Wolfe sisters' home. A chain smoker, he was often seen with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. In recent weeks, he sometimes walked with a cane but other times left it behind, police said. Wade recently had a hospital stay, and Anita Wilcox, his live-in girlfriend's mother, said he was ailing and weak.
Standing 5 feet, 9 inches and weighing about 200 pounds, the maintenance man raised few alarms with Ms. Wilcox or her daughter despite their knowledge of his criminal past.
That was not the case with other women in Wade's life. As far back as 1997 his ex-girlfriend and an ex-wife filed for several protection-from-abuse orders.
In the court paperwork, which contains unproven allegations, the women separately claimed that Wade had engaged in various bad behaviors, including hitting, spitting, cutting the brake lines of a car and threatening to kill. One claimed Wade owned a licensed .380-caliber gun.
"I'm afraid for me and my daughter," an ex-girlfriend wrote. "I don't know what he might do next."
In 2001, Wade married Ruby Joyner, a mother of three from Long Island, N.Y., who was three years his junior. On his marriage license application he listed himself as a painter. Wade's father was a city employee; his mother a nursing assistant.
Wade and Ms. Joyner lived in Whitaker, but not for long. The next two years proved tumultuous for the couple, court records show.
In March 2002, Wade robbed a PNC Bank in Wilkinsburg in a scheme that involved multiple ruses. Before the robbery, a man -- police suspect Wade -- called the bank to say he would be delivering flowers.
Around the time of the robbery someone used a phone bought by Wade to call 911 and erroneously report that a "man with a shotgun" had been spotted at Turner Elementary, sending police racing to the opposite side of town.
When a bank employee opened a door thinking it was the flower delivery, she instead found Wade with a bandana covering part of his face. He pulled out a gun and ordered the woman to take him to the vault and put money in a backpack. He made her lie on the floor while he fled with $81,000.
In the days that followed, Wade bought three new cars and ordered new furniture. An informant told police of the purchases, saying it seemed odd because he didn't know Wade to have a job.
The case remained unsolved over the next seven months.
That July, McKeesport police tried to pull over Wade in a traffic stop, but he sped away and was arrested. A woman in the car said she told Wade to stop multiple times and feared for her life.
Wade pleaded guilty to numerous charges stemming from that incident and was sentenced to two years of probation.
By January 2003, Wade had moved into a Wilkinsburg apartment with a new girlfriend, whom he later pleaded guilty to assaulting.
Around the same time, officials at PNC Bank asked Wilkinsburg police to reopen their investigation into the robbery from months earlier. Police used statements from Ms. Joyner to connect Wade to the case. He pleaded guilty to robbery and a gun violation -- and later to intimidating Ms. Joyner while his robbery case was pending.
A few months later, the couple divorced.
Wade spent much of the next few years in prison. In October 2003, he began his 5-to-10-year sentence. In June 2008 he was paroled; the next January he was sent to a halfway house with violence prevention programming.
The following year, Wade was charged with serving as the getaway driver in a Pittsburgh credit union robbery. Prosecutors dropped the charges because they were not confident they could obtain a conviction.
Wade returned to prison on a parole violation. His parole expired in October 2013 -- but not before he had one more brush with the law.
Wade surrendered Aug. 2 to authorities on charges he stole a woman's wedding ring while delivering a refrigerator to her Westmoreland County home for a Pittsburgh appliance delivery company. To qualify for the job, Wade had to pass a drug test and a physical.
Wade, who had a cane Wednesday when he left Pittsburgh police headquarters en route to jail, was healthy enough last year to move the refrigerator with another man without using a dolly, according to the police report.
A January hearing scheduled in that case was postponed because Wade was in the hospital.
Last month, Wade's landlord filed a complaint seeking to evict Wade and his girlfriend, claiming they owed him $1,655 in back rent. Wade said during a hearing on the matter, "We do owe him money. There's no question about that. I got hurt and I ended up losing my job because of it."
Wade did not say more about his injuries. He told the judge he asked a relative for money but that fell through. He then said he would pay using his tax return.
The judge ruled that Wade and his girlfriend could stay if they paid the overdue rent.
After the hearing, Wade would not talk about the Wolfe sisters. When asked about them he said, "When this is all over and my name is cleared, I will be calling you. I am not a monster. My name will be cleared."
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Jonathan D. Silver: email@example.com, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg.