The life story of Richard Daniel Wolfe, who died Friday while an inmate at the Prince Albert Penitentiary, is a difficult to comprehend mix of disturbing crimes — including attempted murder and violent sexual assault — and a tragic, disadvantaged childhood where one of his earliest experiences was of being locked in a storage room at elementary school for misbehaving.
'Sexual abuse left Richard confused, ashamed and full of hate.' - Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench sentencing decision
Wolfe, who founded the Indian Posse street gang with his brother, died after being found in need of medical attention in the exercise yard of the Saskatchewan prison.
The Correctional Service of Canada said Wolfe, 40, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead Friday night. A news release from the agency said the circumstances of the incident were being investigated, but offered no further details on what happened. Calls to the service were not returned.
Wolfe is the older brother of Daniel Wolfe, who was killed during a brawl at the same prison on Jan. 4, 2010, while the younger man was serving time for a double murder.
According to a 1994 article by the Winnipeg Free Press, the brothers founded the Indian Posse gang in 1989 in the basement of their mother's Winnipeg home. Richard would have been about 13 at the time and had just started on what would become a lifetime of interactions with the criminal justice system.
Court documents show Wolfe had a string of breaking and entering convictions as a youth and spent a lot of his teen years in and out of youth custody facilities.
"He was raised in an environment where substance abuse and domestic violence was prevalent," a sentencing judge wrote in January of this year. "Richard was repeatedly exposed to violence which occurred during his parents' house parties. He was sexually abused at the age of seven, once by a stranger and twice by a neighbour. The episodes of sexual abuse left Richard confused, ashamed and full of hate."
Brothers lived in poverty
The judge also remarked on how the brothers managed to survive with little supervision.
"They lived in poverty with little to eat," the judge said. "Richard and Daniel soon learned to steal vegetables from gardens and food from dumpsters simply to survive. Richard first began using drugs at the age of 10 or 11, and by the age of 11, he had begun consuming alcohol."
The court record also includes reports on Wolfe's difficult time in the education system.
At Fairday School in Winnipeg, one report said Wolfe was subjected to harsh discipline for misbehaviour. One punishment was being locked in a storage room for long stretches of time by a teacher.
"I was the only one he would leave in there for longer than 10 minutes," Wolfe said in the report, adding he felt lonely and scared.
"It wasn't right, because I shouldn't have been treated like that," he said.
The creation of a gang, according to one sentencing judge, was something that gave the Wolfe brothers confidence as well as a sense of purpose and an income.
Wolfe was most recently sentenced in January to five years for an attack and sex assault on a couple in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask, in 2014, which happened while he was on statutory release from a 19½-year sentence for attempted murder of a Winnipeg pizza delivery man.
Indian Posse a notorious gang
The Indian Posse gang has been linked with crime and violence in and out of prison walls for many years.
Officials said an 18-hour riot at the Headingley Correctional Centre in Manitoba in 1996 grew out of a feud between the Indian Posse and a rival gang, the Manitoba Warriors. Eight guards and 31 prisoners were beaten.
In a 2005 report, Alberta's Criminal Intelligence Service said the Indian Posse street gang had built drug networks south of Edmonton and in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Peace regions. Residents of the Samson Cree Nation in Alberta also blamed a rivalry between the Indian Posse and other gangs for a crime wave that included the shooting of 23-month-old Asia Saddleback, who survived after she was hit by a stray bullet while in a home in 2008.
In 2010, RCMP included the Indian Posse among a list of native gangs, including the Native Syndicate and Manitoba Warriors, stating they had spread across the West and were even in rural areas of B.C., northern Ontario and the Far North.
The couple Wolfe assaulted in 2014 was helping him turn his life around after his last release from custody. But Wolfe had broken his sobriety and sexually assaulted the woman, then attacked her boyfriend with a baseball bat when he awoke to her screams.
At the time of the attack, Wolfe managed to stay sober for a period of time and had begun speaking to young people about the dangers of gang life.