Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Murder of Rachael DelTondo


Rachael DelTondo (33) was shot and murdered in the driveway of her parent’s Aliquippa, Pennsylvania home on May 13th, 2018. She was shot around 10:30pm, just moments after her friend Lauren Watkins (17) dropped her off at her parent’s residence. Police have yet to make any arrests in the case, nor have they publicly announced any suspects. Still, police have made it clear that they believe Rachael was targeted.

There has been a lot of speculation about why Rachael might have been targeted. The young woman was a beautiful and popular high school teacher who reportedly had a lot of admirers. Rachael was also rumored to have a contentious relationship with the local Aliquippa PD. Two years before her death, in February 2016, Rachael was found in a parked car with fogged up windows accompanied by Sheldon Jeter Jr. (17). Sheldon was not a student at the school Rachael worked at, but he was still a minor at the time, and it appeared suspicious that Rachael was in a parked car with him during the early-morning hours. Police questioned both Rachael and Sheldon after approaching the car, and they both insisted that they were just friends and they were just talking. Although this seemed questionable, police did not have proof that anything illegal was going on. Still, Rachael begged the police officers to not publicize the incident because she was afraid that it would anger her fiancé. Nearly a week later, Rachael and said fiancé called off their engagement.

In the following months, Rachael seemed to put both her old relationship and the incident with Sheldon behind her. A year and a half later, though, the February 2016 incident came back to haunt her. In October 2017, an anonymous e-mail was sent to Rachael’s employer, multiple county and state agencies, several media outlets, and her friends. The e-mail contained the police report about Rachael being spotted in the “suspicious vehicle” with 17 year-old Sheldon. The e-mail also suggested that police covered up the incident. The report in the e-mail was a complaint about both the incident with Sheldon and the alleged subsequent cover-up. Said report was filed in spring 2017—over a year after police caught Rachael in the car with Sheldon. To this day, it is unclear who sent this anonymous e-mail containing the incriminating reports—but Rachael was suspended from her job as a result. Still, no charges were filed as the Aliquippa PD maintained that they did not have evidence of criminal activity.

Rachael and Sheldon continued to have a friendship over the following months. There were rumors that Sheldon was in love with Rachael and the two did have a romance at one point, however Rachael was also rumored to have a romantic relationship with Sheldon’s older brother, Tyrie Jeter (26). In fact, Tyrie was actually seen with Rachael the night she was killed.  He had accompanied Rachael and Lauren Watkins on their outing that evening. Police later obtained text messages between Tyrie and Sheldon, which suggested that Sheldon wanted to join the group that night and felt left behind and unwanted. Sheldon was inevitably questioned by police following Rachael’s murder, and they noticed he showed “almost no emotion” when he was told of Rachael’s death. Sheldon hired a lawyer very shortly thereafter and continues to maintain that he was not involved in the murder.

Despite this, many still believe Sheldon is responsible. However, there are rumors about yet another police cover-up and potential police involvement in Rachael’s murder as well. Lauren Watkins’ father, Kenneth Watkins, was an officer for the Aliquippa PD. He was not on duty that night, yet happened to appear on the scene very shortly after the shooting. Sgt. Watkins was placed on leave after this, which the PD officially stated was because of his daughter’s relationship with the murder victim. But, certain other officers have accused Sgt. Watkins of contaminating the crime scene. It was also noted that Sgt. Watkins was one of the officers who approached Rachael in her car with Sheldon in 2016 and might have helped cover up the incident. Other than this, though, there is reportedly no further evidence that Sgt. Watkins and Rachael had any other sort of relationship. It is also unclear if Sgt. Watkins has any sort of relationship with Sheldon or Tyrie Jeter. Suspicion about police involvement did not end here, though. In June 2018, a letter from an inmate surfaced that provided details about the night of Rachael’s murder. The inmate stated that it was an Aliquippa police officer who killed Rachael and that the case is being covered up. The letter was later discredited, but many still believe that police might have been involved in Rachael’s murder.

Rachael’s family members had a completely different suspect in mind: Frank Catroppa (36), Rachael’s ex-fiancé. Rachael’s family accused him of having several of his business associates follow Rachael around following their break-up. Frank has denied this and also denies any involvement in Rachael’s death. Police did question and investigate him, but was ultimately never named as a suspect. Still, Rachael’s family members were adamant that he was involved. In fact, in November 2018, both Rachael’s mother and cousin were arrested after allegedly attacking members of the Catroppa family at a polling place on election day. They were later charged with assault and harassment, after Frank also claimed that Rachael’s family members had been driving past his house and harassing his family members.

The investigation into Rachael’s murder is still ongoing. It appears that many different people in her life are pointing the finger at a variety of potential suspects. Rachael’s family members are desperate for answers. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please submit a tip here.

1 comment:

  1. Recently watched the 48 Hours episode of Rachel's murder. The 17 y/o friend, Lauren Watkins(daughter of a police officer)who claims she had dropped Rachel off at her house(minutes later she is shot) states in the 48 Hours episode that she had texted her Rachel while they were sitting inside the car "why don't you take a walk". I read an article that Tyrie says he texted that message...? The investigative journalist, John Paul claims Rachel was terrified of the local police. If that was so I find it odd that she is socializing with Laren Watkins, a local officer's daughter. In other articles I see claims that Rachel is an informant attempting to get information on: the local drug trafficking, the local police corruption, her ex-fiancé's illegal business practices, etc. I observe strange inconsistencies; for instance Rachel is accused of an inappropriate relationship with a former student/minor. Yet, she continues she hang/socialize with minors and people much younger than herself. She was at one time engaged to a man her age. A high school friend claims that at one time Rachel looked as if she was under the influence of drugs; her fiancé disagreed with that assessment, but it is rumored that he may have a hand in the local drug scene as well. I believe this murder took place in 2017. If that's the case is there no security cameras from the neighbors' homes that saw people, vehicles in/around the time that Rachel was murdered? It seems like there are a lot of loose ends in this unsolved case...

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