Wade Michael Page. Photo by FBI via Getty Images.
By John Bacon, USA TODAY
The stepmother of mass-murderer Wade Michael Page says he was a "soft-spoken, gentle person" who displayed no sign of hatred as a child.
Laura Page, who lives in Denver, tells Denver's 9News.com that she was "totally devastated" when she learned her stepson was the man who fatally shot six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday. Three other people were critically wounded before police in Oak Creek shot him dead.
"He was a beautiful child," Page tells the website. "I would not have known this was Wade. What has changed him? I have no idea and obviously we're never going to know."
The worst part, she says, is the pain felt by six other families.
"My heart goes out to those people," Page says. "I'm devastated for them."
She says she takes some comfort in pictures from happier times. Page chooses to remember her former stepson as a little boy, and not the man, full of hate who did "this horrible thing."
Wade Page's parents divorced when he was a child. Laura married his father, Jesse Page, when Wade was 10. They divorced in 2001.
"It was a family full of joy and love," Laura Page tells the Denver Post. "We did the normal things that families do."
Wade Page's mother, Beverly Van Buskirk, died in 1985 when he was 13, the Post reports. Wade Page, 40, has two sisters. The Post says his father, Jesse Page, declined comment from his Texas home.
Laura Page also spoke with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, saying Wade Page was a "precious child."
"He was kind and gentle and loving," Laura Page tells the Journal Sentinel. "He was normal in every way that I can think of."
Page's grandmother, Elaine Lenz, told the Journal Sentinel that Page was a caring grandson who sent her a dozen roses two weeks ago "just to tell me he loved me."