How Columbia Doctoral Candidate Devon Wade Beat The Odds, Then Got Murdered

Written by Ann Brown
Columbia University Ph.D. student Devon Tyrone Wade was studying sociology in NYC. Three years ago, he was killed by his boyfriend. Photo: LSU

Devon Tyrone Wade was a Columbia University Ph.D. student in New York City studying sociology. Wade was the child of incarcerated parents and was raised by his grandparents. He was intentional not to follow in his parents’ footsteps. Instead, he got an education, become a mentor to others, and was looking forward to helping more people. 

Unfortunately, he never got that chance. Wade, 28, was killed three years ago in late November 2017 in his home in Atascocita, Texas.

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He was shot to death following an argument with his boyfriend, Mario Jarrell Williams, 29, who was later charged with murder. According to investigators, Williams was mad that Wade wanted him to leave his home. He did leave, but returned later and shot Wade. It was Wade’s twin brother, Stephen, who found him after he had been shot.

Wade had struggled to not let his past define him. “Both his parents were incarcerated and he found hope in the program ‘No More Victims,’” ABC News 13 reported.

When Wade was interviewed by Eyewitness News about it in 2010, he said, “Just really solidified for me that I wanted to do something for my community.”

“Wade worked fervently so that those without a ‘bright future’ – individuals who often fall between the cracks of mass incarceration, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia – would not be forgotten. That memory should not be erased,” The Root reported.

“Devon Wade was a force, an angel amongst men. He was a gentle spirit, who generated electricity in all spaces he dwelled,” said Jeffrey McCune of Washington University in St. Louis, a mentor and friend to Wade. “His life’s work, examining the impact of incarcerated parents on children, was to be a shape-shifter to the sociology of education. He is sorely missed.”

Wade will be awarded his Ph.D. posthumously.