ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — A local community still waits on any word of an arrest in the murder of a schoolteacher on Mother's Day last year.
Ten gunshots rang out in a quiet hill top neighborhood of Aliquippa. Rachael DelTondo, a school teacher living with her parents, was murdered. Investigators say someone shot her at close range in her parents' driveway.
To many people in Aliquippa, the approaching anniversary is shocking. Channel 11 sat down with two attorneys who represented the only two people publicly questioned in the murder case.
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"It's hard to believe it's been almost a year," said attorney Steve Colafella, who represented DelTondo's ex-fiance Frank Catroppa.
Catroppa sat down with investigators right after DelTondo's death. He also spoke with Channel 11. At that time, he told reporter Amy Marcinkiewicz he didn't understand how anyone could kill her.
Colafella says he and his client came forward immediately to give an alibi. He says they have not been contacted for 11 months.
"From my client's standpoint, it's painful and it's difficult," Colafella told Amy Marcinkiewicz. "He and other names that surfaced early on, they want closure, the longer this thing goes on without an arrest/conviction, it continues to fuel speculation."
Attorney Mike Santicola is on retainer for the other man prominent in this case, Sheldon Jeter.
"We feel bad for the victim, the family, the community," said attorney Mike Santicola. "Everybody waiting to find out if they're ever going to be able to solve this case."
Santicola says his client had nothing to do with this case. Detectives filed search warrants on Jeter, looking for a gun, ammunition or bloody clothes. They went through his home, his phone and his clothes, but never named him as a suspect. In fact, detectives have never named a suspect in this case.
Back in 2016, Sheldon Jeter was just 17 years old. He was linked to DelTondo after Aliquippa police say they found the two in a steamed up car. The officer who responded never filed a report.
"He has had death threats, stress from the attention he received," Santicola said about his client in the aftermath of the murder. "He's trying to make something of his life, but his name is forever drug into the mess."
An hour before DelTondo was gunned down, she was in New Brighton having ice cream with friends. One was an Aliquippa police sergeant's daughter. The other friend was Sheldon Jeter's older brother.
For many that information is crucial. We learned that same sergeant was the officer who responded to the 2016 call and found Sheldon Jeter and DelTondo together in the car. Police say the night of Rachael's murder, the officer's daughter was the driver who dropped Rachael off at her home.
In the year since DelTondo's murder, Aliquippa solicitor Myron Sainovich says the department with its new chief has worked hard for this community.
"Right now, the city has confidence in the new police force," Sainovich said.
However, he says the city won't be at ease, until someone is in custody.
"People can't feel comfortable in their homes, knowing someone has murdered someone," Sainovich said. "We have no idea, any more news of it today, than we did one year ago."
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