The stepmother of a man who died after allegedly killing seven at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin says that Wade Michael Page was a “lovely, gentle child” who was never the same after leaving the U.S. Army.
“The last time I saw Wade was at Christmas time and he was very happy with the military at that point [in 2001],” Laura Wade told ABC News in an interview that aired on Tuesday. “Now I greatly question that direction. I don’t know if the military was good for him. I don’t know. I wish I had some answers. And we’re not going to have answers because he’s dead.”
On Monday, Fox News reported that Page enlisted with the Army in 1992 and had a “less than honorable” discharge in 1998.
Page served with the psychological operations unit at Fort Bliss, Texas in 1994 and later with the psychological operations unit at Fort Bragg, N.C. Before leaving the service, he had reportedly been demoted from sergeant to specialist.
Records obtained by The New York Times indicated that he had never been deployed overseas. But neighbors said that Page had claimed he joined the service after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001 and he often talked about combat.
“He said, ‘You go there, and one minute you’re with your buddies and the next minute you’re dead,’” one neighbor recalled.
In her interview with ABC News, Laura Wade remembered her stepson as a “lovely, gentle child.”
“I can’t imagine what could have gone through his mind for him to do something like this, or anyone to do something like this,” she explained. “You can’t be functioning normally obviously. But we’ll never know why.”
For a number of years after leaving the military, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) had been tracking page Page and identified him as a neo-Nazi who led a racist white-power band.
SPLC’s Heidi Beirich told the Journal Sentinel that there was “no question” that the suspect was part of the white supremacist movement and had attended “hate events” around the country.
Watch this video from ABC News, broadcast Aug. 7, 2012.