Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Monday, July 15, 2013
Man charged in Doylestown homeless stabbing had prior knife-related arrest
Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013
The man accused of stabbing a homeless man more than 70 times was released from a Carbon County jail earlier this year after pleading guilty to hitting and shooting his mom with a BB gun and holding a knife to her throat.
Dale “Bugsy” Wakefield Jr. — who turned 21 the night before he allegedly stabbed George Mohr, 71, near the Doylestown train station — had been sentenced to seven to 23 months in March as part of the negotiated plea deal that dismissed most charges against him in the attack.
He was released on March 25 for time served after spending 199 days, or just under the minimum seven months, in jail, according to the Carbon County Jail records.
Wakefield had been incarcerated in the northeastern Pennsylvania county jail in lieu of 10 percent of $75,000 since his arrest in September on 12 charges including simple assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
On Thursday, Baltimore police took Wakefield into custody at a hotel room in Maryland where he had fled after allegedly stabbing Mohr, a U.S. Army veteran, who suffered critical, life-threatening injuries in the attack early Wednesday.
Wakefield is expected to be extradited back to Pennsylvania to face charges that include attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of an instrument of crime.
Why Wakefield attacked Mohr remains a mystery, though Heckler said that he had been drinking and was intoxicated, a violation of his probation. Court records in Carbon County and Connecticut, the former where Wakefield lived until earlier this year and the latter where he attended school, show a violent past.
'HE THEN PULLED A KNIFE'
In January, Wakefield pleaded guilty to a single charge of simple assault and terroristic threats in the Sept. 2 attack on his mother at their home; the other counts and charges, including reckless endangerment, were dismissed under the plea agreement.
Pennsylvania State Police at Fern Ridge arrested Wakefield after he attacked his mother because she refused to give him the keys to her car, according to a probable cause affidavit. Wakefield had a suspended driver’s license from an earlier DUI conviction, court records show.
Wakefield became “enraged,” and pulled his mother’s hair and threw her against a wall, according to court records. Next he took out a BB gun and pointed it at her face, then used it to strike her in the head, left chest area and arm, police said.
Wakefield then shot his mother in the right thigh, leaving a bruise, according to an affidavit.
His mother, who was widowed in January 2011, ran from the home and flagged down a car whose driver took her to a nearby fire company where she called police, according to police documents in the case.
Wakefield fled the house, but an hour later, state police returned to the family’s home after he assaulted his mother a second time, this time holding a knife to her throat, police said.
After using his house key to enter the home, Wakefield confronted his mom and told her he saw that police were here "and he was angry," the affidavit said. Wakefield told his mother he wanted the money she owed him and the keys to her car.
"He then pulled a knife. At that time, the victim ran down the hallway in an attempt to get to her bedroom. The defendant ran after her and pushed her onto the bed face down. The defendant had the knife to her back and then held the knife to her throat,” according to the affidavit.
Again, Wakefield demanded money and her car keys. His mother told him the money was in the car and they went to the car. At one point the mother tried to get in the car and drive away, but Wakefield pulled her out of it by her hair, police said.
His mom then threw the keys onto the front seat of the car, ran into the house and called police. Wakefield got into the car and drove away.
State police caught and arrested Wakefield, who three days after the attack while being transported to Carbon County jail escaped from the patrol car, but was caught after a brief foot chase, according to press accounts. Wakefield also pleaded guilty to the escape charge.
Carbon County Judge Steven Serfass ordered a pre-sentencing investigation report, but information in the reports is confidential, according to the Carbon County Clerk of Courts.
At sentencing the judge imposed zero tolerance on drug and alcohol use and ordered Wakefield to undergo a mental health, drug and alcohol evaluation and complete anger management counseling, according to court records. In addition to a jail sentence, Wakefield was sentenced in March to 24 months of probation on an escape charge.
But Wakefield’s legal problems go even further back.
In February 2012, Wakefield caused an entire Connecticut technical school to go on lockdown after making threats and trashing a dorm lobby.
Suffield police Sgt. Ryan Burrell remembers the then-19-year-old Wakefield being plain-faced as Burrell arrested him.
During the night of Feb. 6, 2012, Wakefield, apparently intoxicated, began throwing chairs and smashing tables in the lobby of his Lincoln Tech Institute dormitory Burrell said. A verbal altercation with a school security guard ensued, according to police. He made hand gestures suggesting he was going to get a pistol and then pulled a fire alarm, Burrell said.
In the ensuing confusion, Wakefield fled campus. Burrell said SWAT officers rushed to the school, which was placed on lockdown because of the gun threat. Police were able to get into contact with Wakefield as late night turned to early morning and ended the lockdown when they realized his cell phone was off-campus.
About 6 a.m. Feb. 7, Burrell and another officer spotted a young man walking along the roadway in a hooded sweatshirt and realized it was Wakefield, police said. Wakefield started to run and tossed a buck knife into a nearby stream before police were able to arrest him at gunpoint, Burrell said.
“We were trying to get him to turn himself in, we wanted to resolve this with no harm to him,” Burrell said. “And his response was basically just, ‘F- you, pig.’”
Wakefield didn’t have a gun, police said. He was charged with a felony count of criminal mischief for the damage to the lobby, and misdemeanors of threatening and breaching of peace. Connecticut court records available online do not show what the resolution of the case was. Police said the charges against Wakefield don’t normally result in a prison sentence.
Two years earlier, Wakefield, then 18, pleaded guilty in Carbon County Court to summary charges of escape and harassment in connection with a December 2010 incident with his sister Wendy, who rented the apartment where Wakefield recently lived. He was placed on six months of probation and ordered to undergo drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations. He was also fined $300 for the harassment charge.
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
Since moving to Bucks County, Wakefield appears to have mostly stayed out of serious trouble.
Warwick police cited Wakefield twice in August, once for noise-related disorderly conduct and he pleaded guilty, online court records show. A summary charge of purchasing alcohol as a minor was later withdrawn, records show.
Where stabbing occurred July 3, 2013
Bucks County detectives accuse Wakefield of attacking Mohr, also a Villanova graduate, stabbing and beating him, and leaving him unconscious. Mohr was found lying on South Clinton Street — a block south of the apartment where Wakefield was staying — in front of a bus kiosk near the Doylestown train station about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, police said.
A Temple University doctor treating Mohr told police that he had multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head that resulted in numerous facial fractures and brain injury, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Wendy Wakefield, Dale's sister, called an emergency tip line created after the attack, early Thursday morning and said her brother had called her Wednesday and told her he was in trouble, according to court documents. He had stabbed someone and “may have killed him,” the affidavit said.
Wakefield told his sister he had the pocket knife used in the attack, but left his bloody clothes and shoes at her apartment. His sister said that she had not been to the South Clinton Street apartment in two weeks, police said.
He also told his sister he planned to escape to North Dakota, but that he was currently at a hotel in Baltimore.
Heckler said that investigators have information that others were with Wakefield the night of the stabbing but they don't know if anyone was with him during Mohr's attack. Heckler also said Wakefield's drinking on his 21st birthday was a violation of his probation and, at least initially, Baltimore authorities held Wakefield on a probation violation while authorities in Bucks County filed the attempted murder warrant against him.
Investigators believe Mohr took the train from Philadelphia to Doylestown Tuesday. His last known address was in Phoenix, Ariz.
Authorities said they do not know of any friends or family he has in the area. Heckler said authorities have been in contact with Mohr’s family, some of whom are currently at the hospital.