Convicted Rapist Asks Us to Ask Patti LaBelle for Money

"I'm a peasant to you, and I've lost everything," he writes.

I get a lot of weird mail here at Philly Mag, including the occasional letter from the incarcerated and their families and pleading their cases for wrongful conviction. But I’ve never received a letter from an inmate asking Patti LaBelle for money and a letter of recommendation until now.

Darryl Wilson is an inmate at SCI-Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, serving a sentence for a rape, among other things, to which he pleaded guilty in 1986. (We confirmed the conviction and the sentence with the court, though the details of the crime were unavailable.)

I received the following letter from Wilson, with a note on the envelope that reads, “Please Send To Patti LaBelle.” Though I’ve interviewed her, Ms. LaBelle and I aren’t exactly on a first-name basis, so I thought I’d pass it along here.

We’ve edited it for typos. The original appears at the bottom in PDF format.

Please read your fan’s story.

Ms. Patti LaBelle,

My mom and I both grew up on your songs. I have a old magazine picture of you. It’s my friend. Here’s my story — I’ll make it short.

When I was 26, all my family had died. We came from Detroit to Pittsburgh. My brother, mom and sister all died in the first 10 years. Still 26, I was imprisoned 30 [years for] a rape I never did. That’s when I entered my living nightmare.

My first 9 years in prison, I was used as a girl by 4 inmates. Now I want to be a female. I’m confused. I did 29 years. No visits, mail or phone calls. I’m destroyed.

I max out July 30, 2015 only to be homeless. After 30 years and no family to turn to, I’m afraid, I’m going to be lost. Why me?

I’m a peasant to you, and I’ve lost everything. I have nothing to lose by coming to you with my plan. The only plan I got.

I have to look for work my first day out. Please, will you help me? Just enough to make it a few days to have bus fare, food and a set of clothes from Goodwill so I can look presentable.

A recommendation letter from you will help get me a job.

God bless you and thank you so much. A photo would be good, but I have nowhere to live to put it.

Darryl Wilson, AP-9944
Pittsburgh Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 99991
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Wilson also included a form for LaBelle to use to get money to him. At the top, this note: “If you help your peasant fan, you need this paper.”

In case you want to help him out, Patti, you can send him money via