A Fargo, North Dakota judged sentenced convicted murderer Dennis Gaede to life in prison without parole yesterday. Gaede was found guilty of killing Timothy Wicks, a Milwaukee-area drummer and house painter. After stealing his identity and moving to North Dakota, Gaede later killed and dismembered Wicks. Gaede was awaiting sentencing on a felony conviction when he stole the identity and moved out of state.
The headless and handless body of Wicks was found in 2002 near the Menominee River, which separates Wisconsin and Michigan. The head was found two weeks later, but the hands were never found.
Testimoney from Diana Fruge, Gaede’s ex-wife, was critical to getting a conviction from the jury. She said that Gaede had stolen Wicks’s identity, but when Wicks found out, Gaede lured him to North Dakota under the pretense of setting up a lucrative drumming gig for him in Canada.
Wicks was shot by Gaede in the kitchen of the home shared by Gaede and Fruge, and Fruge helped get rid of the body. She was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Gaede’s defense was that Fruge was actually the killer. After the couple was arrested in March 2002, Fruge confessed to killing Wicks because he had raped her. Authorities did not believe her confession.
Prior to sentencing, Gaede gave a lengthy statement in which he declared his innocence and claimed that Fruge had ruined two men’s lives. He compared his conviction to the conviction of Jesus, an innocent man. The judge, however, saw Fruge as someone who was Gaede’s assistant in the murder.