Convicted felon sentenced to 21 years for 2011 murder of Belltown woman

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Gary Wade, who was found guilty of murdering a Belltown woman and stuffing her body in a closet, was sentenced to 254 months — about 21 years — in prison Friday.

In February 2011, officials released new details into Michelle Thorton’s mysterious death. According to Seattle police detectives, Thornton was found half naked in the closet of her apartment.

Detectives said her apartment showed signs of a struggle. The detectives said that evidence at the scene suggested that she had been sexually assualted and the King County Medical Examiner said she was strangled to death. Detectives started putting pieces together after eye witness testimony pointed the finger to Wade. Detectives said Thornton and Wade knew each other through a number of drugs.

Apartment surveillance video shows Wade going in and out of Thornton’s apartment various times throughout the months leading up to the murder.

Detectives took DNA samples and fingerprints found at Thornton’s apartment and said the tests were a positive match to Wade. The fingerprints at the crime scene were taken from various surfaces of the apartment and Wade’s fingerprints were found in the living room where it appeared the struggle took place.

The DNA was matched to Wade through a national database. He has a felony crimimal history in Utah.

Wade was found guilty of second-degree murder Sept. 21. He received the maximum sentence for the charge.

“Michele Thornton was murdered in her own apartment by a killer who tried very hard to cover his tracks,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said. “Thanks to diligent police work by Seattle Police detectives and skillful prosecution, we were able to identify her killer and hold him accountable.”

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