Suspect in sisters' slayings called 'timid'

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The man accused of killing two sisters in East Liberty retained an attorney Friday and met with him at the Allegheny County Jail for about 45 minutes, setting the groundwork for them to begin building a defense.

Attorney Blaine Jones said his office was contacted Friday morning by the mother and brother of Allen Wade, 43, who is charged with killing his next-door neighbors, Susan and Sarah Wolfe. Mr. Jones said he and two other attorneys from his office Friday met Wade and agreed to take the case.

After he was arrested Wednesday, Wade said he was "100 percent innocent" and felt he was being framed.

Mr. Jones said he has not yet obtained all the police reports connected to the case, so he could not comment in depth about the charges.

"We're going to get all of the reports, all of the information, my firm and I. We're going to look at it individually, look at it collectively and go to him," Mr. Jones said, referring to his client. "We're going to take our time."

Pittsburgh police built their case using surveillance footage of a man they believe was Wade buying cigarettes at a gas station less than a mile from the crime scene and tossing something into the garbage, where detectives later found a pen they believe is connected to the sisters.

Police also have video of a man in similar articles of clothing using Susan Wolfe's stolen bank card at an ATM machine shortly after the time police suspect the women died, and they wrote in an affidavit that blood on a pair of sweatpants discarded near Sarah Wolfe's stolen car proved a match for Wade's DNA.

Mr. Jones said he could not comment on what sort of relationship, if any, Wade had with Susan and Sarah Wolfe, who were found shot to death in the basement of their Chislett Street home Feb. 7, doused with laundry detergent. Susan Wolfe was naked and Sarah Wolfe was clothed.

Wade did tell his attorney that he was in the hospital "for a couple days ... around the time of this incident," Mr. Jones said. He said he could not go into further detail.

In the days since his arrest, a complex picture has emerged regarding Wade, a convicted felon who is awaiting trial on charges that he last year stole a woman's wedding ring in Westmoreland County and who, sources said, served as a jailhouse informant in a pending murder-for-hire case.

Wade's ex-wife, Ruby Joyner, recalled her former spouse as "sneaky" but charming.

She also called him "timid" and "soft-spoken" and said he was physically unimposing -- despite the fact that in 2002 she filed for two protection-from-abuse orders against him seven weeks apart.

"I wasn't even scared of him," Ms. Joyner, 41, of Wilkinsburg said Friday. "He was more timid than anything."

The two were married from March 2001 to June 2003. They lived in Whitaker.

In the protection-from-abuse documents, which contain unproven allegations, Ms. Joyner claimed that Wade cut the brake lines of her vehicle, punched walls and threatened to burn her house down.

She also wrote that he struck her.

"He had hit me, he was arrested for the incident a month later at our home. The police surrounded the house. He's hiding inside the home. My children was home scared -- swollen nose and scratch on my forearm," according to court document.

Whitaker police have not publicly released any information about their interactions with Wade.

Ms. Joyner said Friday that she had no memory of any physical violence in their relationship.

"I don't even remember that," Ms. Joyner said, after a reporter read to her what was written in the PFA application seeking "any prior incidents of abuse."

Ms. Joyner said she met Wade through a cousin who had gone to school with him in Wilkinsburg.

At first he was nice, she said. He sent flowers and came across as charming. Money was tight, though, and Wade worked as a jitney driver.

"He definitely wasn't abusive toward me," Ms. Joyner said. "When I first met him he was a real nice guy. Through the relationship I started figuring out little things, like getting caught up in lies."

When they broke up, Ms. Joyner said, Wade would hang around outside her house and peer through the windows. His behavior got worse from there, she said, adding that the incidents reflected in the protection-from-abuse applications, such as the allegation that he cut her brake lines, occurred after they split up.

Their problems aside, Ms. Joyner said she did not figure Wade to be the type of person to get charged with a double homicide.

"He's a con artist and a liar, but I never thought he would go that far," Ms. Joyner said. "I never thought murder, no. Stealing, yes, but murder, no."


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @Jsilverpg.


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