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Anchorage Daily News (AK)
December 17, 1994
Author: PETER S. GOODMAN, Daily News reporter Staff
According to a close friend of Diana Waggy’s — the woman charged with murdering Anchorage prosecutor Jim Wolf — Waggy had been planning to kill herself, not Wolf, when she drove to his Wasilla home and shot him to death Dec. 9.
“She regularly said she was going to kill herself,” said Sandi Merli, who has known Waggy since the two worked as cocktail waitresses at an Anchorage club several years ago. Over the last two years, they’ve seen one another on a daily basis, Merli said.
“(Waggy) has terrible thoughts, mostly about herself. But I’ve never heard her speak violently about anyone else,” Merli said. “She never said anything bad about Mr. Wolf.”
But Wasilla Police Chief Irl Stambaugh said Waggy did plan to shoot Wolf. According to Stambaugh, Waggy’s 7-year-old daughter was there during the shooting and later told police her mother had bought the gun with Wolf clearly in mind.
“The daughter was aware that (Waggy) was going to go the house to shoot Jim and that’s exactly what she did,” Stambaugh said.
Waggy, 35, was arraigned in Palmer court Friday on a count of first-degree murder. Waggy, a slender woman with curly dark hair and round, wire-rimmed glasses, said nothing during her brief hearing, occasionally making pained eye contact with Merli, who was seated in the back of the courtroom.
Waggy’s attorney, Palmer Public Defender Robert Herz, said his client would plead not guilty. Superior Court Judge Beverly Cutler continued bail at $1million and set trial for March.
In an interview Friday, Merli said she has visited Waggy a couple of times at the Mat-Su jail since her friend was arrested. She said Waggy readily admits to killing Wolf and is filled with remorse.
“She did this,” Merli said. “She’s very sick about it.”
Merli said Waggy gave her this account of the shooting: She drove to Wolf’s house with a gun she had purchased that day through a newspaper ad. She was planning to kill herself there. But Wolf tried to stop her, attempting to take her gun. They struggled outside his house. At some point, he drew back, but she was still holding the gun. Then she pulled the trigger.
Palmer District Attorney Ken Goldman said Wolf was shot at least three times, with two shots hitting him in the back.
Merli elaborated on earlier reports that Waggy suffers from severe mental illness.
“She’s a very depressed person,” Merli said. “She called the crisis lines all the time. She called the crisis line that day.”
Waggy was so sick, she couldn’t take care of herself or her daughter, Merli said. “She couldn’t get herself out of bed. She couldn’t even fix herself a meal,” she said. “She needed to be around people.”
Waggy fixated on anyone willing to help her and Jim Wolf was one of those people, Merli said. He helped get her a job at his office and he and Waggy dated for a couple of years.
When Waggy couldn’t come up with rent, Wolf allowed her and her daughter to move in with him, Merli said.
But Waggy’s illness ruled her and Wolf eventually recognized that, Merli said. He tried to cut ties.
“Like a lot of other people, he told her, ‘Look, you’ve got to get some mental help. I can’t help you,’
” Merli said. “He’d had enough.”
In recent years, Waggy has been in and out of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute and she’s tried all sorts of medications, Merli said. “Prozac, anti-depressants. They didn’t help her. I think they just made her more wacko.”
Several of Wolf’s colleagues have said Waggy was obsessed with Wolf and wouldn’t let him go. They say she called and visited him repeatedly, prompting him to get an unlisted telephone number.
Merli said Waggy hadn’t seen Wolf for about a year the night she shot him. But she acknowledged that Waggy was bitter about his refusal to see her. Waggy often complained that no one liked her or would help her, Merli said, and Wolf was cited as a prime example. The unlisted number particularly rankled her.
“She blamed him because he said he’d take care of her and (her daughter) no matter what and then he rejected her,” Merli said.
But Merli emphasized that Waggy had never shown a capacity for violence.
Marti Bradley dated Wolf, who was 52, for more than a year and was leaning toward marrying him when he was shot. Friday, Bradley said Wolf had been concerned Waggy might come after her in a jealous rage.
“He at one point showed me a picture of her,” Bradley said. “He said if she ever came over, not to let her in.”
But Bradley said Wolf never saw Waggy as a real physical threat. “He was worried about her maybe breaking car windows or something, but he never suspected this,” she said.
Merli said she hopes her friend is headed for a mental institution and not a prison.
“I hope somehow, by the grace of God, they’ll understand that this woman is sick,” she said. “She needs to be committed. .. She always said her life was over. Well, it’s over now.”
Record Number: 174290