ALIQUIPPA, Pa. - The acting chief of the Aliquippa Police Department has removed the department from the investigation into the murder of Rachael DelTondo, a former teacher who was shot and killed in her driveway.
In a letter, Acting Chief Robert Sealock said his first official directive was to recuse his officers from the investigation. Instead, he said his department would be focusing on other investigations and the safety of the citizens of Aliquippa.
Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz reports Beaver County detectives will take over the DelTondo investigation.
DelTondo was coming home from getting ice cream with friends on May 13 when she was shot 10 times.
The 32-year-old was a former teacher for the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and who was on paid suspension after being found with an underage boy in a parked car in 2016.
Despite search warrants being executed and evidence collected, no arrests have been made and no suspects have been named in the shooting.
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"By handing over this case doesn't mean we took our hands off the wheel, no it speaks a lot about our city," said Dwan Walker, mayor of Aliquippa. "We also understand we have a shortage on police manpower right now."
The department has had some dramatic developments in just three weeks: The chief and a sergeant were placed on paid leave for "personnel" reasons.
The assistant chief was also arrested, charged with sending a sexually explicit video to a minor.
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Walker told Channel 11 those issues are not connected to the murder investigation.
"If they thought that, we wouldn't of been part of that investigation," Walker said. "If they felt we were intimately involved in the murder, they would've taken the police force out of the frame of this thing and handled it on their own."
Walker said DelTondo's death is just one of three unsolved murders in the city and that rumors and speculation are not helping during the investigation.
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"We’re not stepping back from it as far as cooperation in helping," said Myron Sainovich, solicitor for Aliquippa. "Our main concern is we keep police on the streets to avoid any other crimes that could happen."
The Beaver County District Attorney told Channel 11 this latest development will not affect this investigation and there will be no interruptions because Beaver County detectives have been on it since it happened.
"One thing that we can learn from today's action is that there is most likely a conflict of interest somewhere or some place within the department that it cannot further investigate," said Phil DiLucente, local defense attorney. "A lot of times it will be referred out to the district attorney's investigators or the state police because a lot of times, those types of agencies have a lot more manpower and resources to fully investigate every element of the crime."
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