The Pesce Family Murders – Billy Wadd’s Awakening


The pair split up in the hours after the homicides and before he left back for Flint, Lincoln was given $3,200 in cash by Wolfenbarger, half of the money taken from the Pesce home. The next day, authorities doing a well-being check at the St. Martins residence on the request of Diane Pesce found Marco, his mother and three children all dead, killed execution style. Vergati was killed upstairs in the living room, while Marco, Sabrina, Melissa, and Carlo were found in a circle in the basement, each shot to death. It was a brutal scene. One local law enforcement official called it “one of the most heinous and vicious crimes in the history of the Metro Detroit area.”

Fortunately, for the victims’ families, it wouldn’t be long until the murderers were brought to justice and made to account for the heinous crimes they perpetrated. Interestingly, help in solving the gruesome quintuple-homicide, would come from the most unlikely of sources – Wolfenbarger’s uncle, a hardened criminal and local biker gang boss with a fierce reputation, to say the least.


In the early morning hours of December 22, William “Billy Wadd” Smith, was awoken from his sleep by a loud knock at the front door of his Dearborn residence. One of the city’s top outlaw biker leaders, Smith was accustomed to dealing with sudden catastrophe at all hours of the day, yet he was still taken aback at what he saw when he came down stairs to greet his nephew in his bathrobe.

Standing there in a blood-spattered shirt, toting a duffle bag full of cash and jewelry and asking to borrow a change of clothing was, John Wolfenbarger had a mischievous grin on his face and was beaming with pride. Before Smith could get a word out, Wolfenbager admitted that he had just killed five people. Trying to convince his uncle he wasn’t joking around, he remarked, “When they found out what I did, it’s going to be on CNN.”

The next afternoon at Smith’s bar, The Copa Lounge, a popular biker hangout located near the corner of Schoolcraft and Outer Drive, Wolfenbarger asked Smith to help him fence some of the stolen jewelry he had taken from the Pesce home. “I wanna get rid of it real cheap,” he allegedly told his uncle.

Around this same time, Wolfenbarger asked a number of people in the bar and elsewhere with helping melt down a portion of the gold he has stolen. He definitely wasn’t shy about bragging to anyone who would listen about his recent big score. Over a period of four days, Wolfenbarger allegedly told close to a dozen people either all or portions of the story surrounding the Pesce family robbery-homicide. It was only a matter of time before somebody went to the cops. Surprisingly, that person would be the one man Wolfenbarger trusted and looked up to the most.

Following his nephew’s disturbing revelation, “Billy Wadd,” nicknamed for his ability to generate large amounts of cash for his gang, experienced an epiphany, a spiritual breakthrough of sorts. He called a friend of his who was a cop in the Dearborn Police Department and told him he had information on the Pesce murders. Eventually, Smith would not only agree to testify against his nephew in court, but aid the government in building multiple investigations into several of the area’s most notorious biker gangs. Like relatives of the Pesce family, Billy Smith’s life would never be the same after the grisly events that took place on December 22, 2002. Unlike those in the Pesce family, Smith’s monumental life alteration would be by choice.


  1. Billy, that took great courage to turn your cousin in. You did the right thing. Your past is your past. Thanks for doing the right thing for this family.

  2. I agree , it did take great courage. What is so disgusting is only one man had that courage. In those circles its obviously okay to murder little kids.

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