The title is a quote from Ted Bundy, but it could apply to Joshua Wade. Ice and Bone is a report of the murders of Della Brown and Mindy Schloss, committed by Joshua Wade in Anchorage Alaska between 2000 and 2007.
I’m not the most objective person to review this book because I knew Della Brown and Joshua Wade. Not well, but in passing and had met them several years apart. I met Della working for a victim’s advocacy group shortly before she was murdered. My impression of her was a quiet woman with a solid iron core. No matter what had happened to her in the past, she wasn’t going to stay silent. But Della was like a lot of men and women who had experienced childhood trauma and alcohol or drug addiction as adults. She had plans for her future and goals, yet she struggled to achieve them due to frequent poor choices that she made or was forced to make due to her life circumstances. I do believe Della would have eventually made it out and into the life she dreamed off, but then she encountered Wade.
Joshua Wade was a weird dude. He was pretty focused on being likable, but in that calculated way of a real sociopath. I didn’t meet him until after his trial for Della’s murder, and he was a free man on parole coming into the organization I worked with as a supportive boyfriend to his very damaged girlfriend. I don’t know what I would have thought of him if I had met him before I knew him as the guy who killed Della and got away with it. It was pretty easy to see through his shtick to the abusive manipulator, he wasn’t nearly as good as he thought he was.
I don’t read a lot of true crime books, but when I saw this one come out in April, I realized that I didn’t really know everything had gone down. I knew what Wade had done mostly and I thought I could take it. Re-reading the details of Della’s slow torturous death was tough, but reading about the positive actions of the police officers and FBI agents as well as the prosecutors who were involved was healing.
There was a lot of hurt and hostility in the community both around Della’s death and later Mindy’s. Della was a ‘throw-away person.’ Poor, alcoholic, Native Alaskan with a criminal record for prostitution. When Wade wasn’t convicted of her murder people were justifiably upset with the jury and accused them of racism. It was interesting to hear more about the failures on the part of the police and prosecution to present the evidence, but I think the author is too forgiving of the jury and prosecutors who definitely didn’t examine their own racism and victim-blaming either during the trial or in the years after. The ones who did consent to be interviewed in the book expressed remorse, but only because Wade murdered again. I didn’t sit in on all of the trial, but to just blame the prosecutors and police for not presenting a good case is baloney. The defense attorneys shredded Della in front of her family and the jury let that influence them.
The radical differences in how the police responded to missing Della vs. missing Mindy are glaring indictment of our society and my community. I wish I could say that it is getting better, but I don’t believe so. As long as there are poor women who drink too much and need a warm place to stay, there will be predators trolling the streets. If we suddenly solved the issues of poverty, complex trauma, childhood abuse and alcoholism, those predators would still be there. But then they would have to stalk the “good” citizens of the city and the police would be empowered and held accountable to “do something” to stop the violence. Rest in peace Della, Mindy and the other victims of Joshua Wade. Your experiences did force the community to rethink the way we approach the victimization of the vulnerable, at least a little.