A Web of Falsehoods
We know that Derontae was taken to Lanie Wade's birthday party on April 24th, 2021, in Fredericktown, MO, at her father, James Wade’s home. But details about what happened at the party and the events that followed remain unclear.
The Suspicious 911 Call
James Wade, who is known for prominently flying a Confederate flag and bigoted social media posts, called 911 and calmly claimed Derontae shot himself. The call also picked up other voices. The following could be heard during the call:
Derontae's mother was never notified of her son’s death by the police. She learned of her son’s death from Derontae's cousin the next day.
A Rushed Autopsy & Suspicious Cause of Death
Several days after his death, Derontae’s mother was told by the Madison County Sheriff's Office/Coroner that they had conducted an autopsy and the cause of death was suicide. They concluded the gunshot wound was self-inflicted and fired at close range.
Suicide? Not Possible.
Derontae’s mother, who had not been notified about an autopsy before it was completed, was suspicious. Derontae’s right hand was in a cast and arm in a sling, making it impossible for him to hold a gun with his dominant hand. Aside from the physical questions, she also knew her son was also looking forward to his future, excited about going to college and playing football. She ordered a second, independent autopsy.
The second autopsy revealed inconsistencies from the first examination, and as a result, a jury was empanelled to review the case.
This Was Violence
It took just a few hours for the jury’s ruling. Derontae’s death resulted from violence, not suicide.
No arrests have been made. According to testimony before the jury, a witness testified that James Wade confessed to killing Derontae. “He just told me he didn’t like Black people and used the N-word,” Phillip Lawler testified. He said Wade told him “that murder was the easiest thing in the world to get by with.” The Missouri Highway Patrol is investigating and refusing to answer any questions —the same police who were part of the initial investigation that attempted to sweep Derontae’s death under the rug by backing the local sheriff’s claim it was a suicide.