Two women who have followed every twist and turn of the Douglas Prade murder case reacted in understandably different ways to the news Tuesday morning that the former Akron police captain would be walking out of an Ohio prison.
When Caralynn Prade heard her brother’s conviction had been overturned, she said she began screaming.
She was at her desk, working as an administrative assistant in a Houston law firm, when the news came in a phone call from Cincinnati attorney Carrie Wood of the Ohio Innocence Project, which had, for years, spearheaded the effort to win a new trial for former Akron police Capt. Douglas Prade.
“When they told me, I screamed, I hollered, and the people in the front of my office heard me all the way back,” Caralynn Prade said in a phone interview late Tuesday afternoon.
“I was at my desk when I screamed,” she said, “and everyone came running back there. They’ve all been rooting for him with me. They were all hugging me, and telling me that they were so happy for us.”
Her brother, who turns 67 in late March, has been behind bars in Ohio prisons since he was convicted Sept. 23, 1998, in the fatal shooting of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade, on the morning before Thanksgiving Day in 1997.
In the Tuesday call from Wood, Caralynn Prade said her brother was on the conference call as well when they shared the stunning news.
Prade said she and her brother were hollering back and forth, in joy.
“I told him that was just what we had been waiting for,” she said. “I told him I was really happy, and he told me that he was really overwhelmed.
“We were just hollering at each other. I’m not sure what we said. We were just going back and forth. I was trying to sing him a song,” she said. “I don’t know, we were just really elated!”
The news was equally stunning to Veronica Sadler, 68, of Akron, an older sister of the slain doctor.
Sadler said she sat through court hearings in October that discussed the DNA evidence that ultimately paved the way for the decision that Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter released early Tuesday. Sadler said she never heard one word about the possibility of Prade’s conviction being overturned — nor his release.
“My first thoughts when I heard the news, well, it was unbelievable to me. No one had any idea that this was going to happen like this. There’s something that’s just not right with [Hunter’s] decision,” Sadler said.
Caralynn Prade, 62, said she has never wavered in the belief that her brother, once in line to become Akron’s police chief, was not guilty of the crime.
“Yes, this is a very happy day for us. I’ve always prayed that the truth would be brought to light, and I guess I got my prayer answered on that, partially, anyway,” she said.
She then explained why her prayers were only partially answered.
“We still don’t know who did what they did to Margo,” Caralynn Prade said, “and that disturbs me. I can still hear her laugh, in my head, and it really disturbs me that we don’t know.
“But I’ve known, always, that it wasn’t my brother.”
She said she is convinced of his innocence because of the way they were raised in Akron in their large family.
“We wouldn’t hurt anybody like that,” she said. “[Doug] was a protector. He was always trying to get us to do right and go in the right direction, and there were a lot of us.
“It has never been an issue with us. He wouldn’t hurt her like that. That’s the mother of his children,” Caralynn Prade said.
Sadler, however, said she remains convinced Prade killed her sister.
“There was nobody else who wanted to kill her,” Sadler said. “He had no alibi. He did the wiretapping. He threatened her, and other people knew he threatened her. There was just a lot of stuff.”
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.