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Suspect In Teacher’s Murder Was Under Surveillance

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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BUTLER (KDKA) — It was a shocking mystery.

How did a popular Seneca Valley High School teacher end up dead in a rustic home north of Zelienople?

Court documents now reveal that state police concluded that “there is probable cause that [Richard] Laszczynski is responsible for [Steven] Russo’s murder.”

Laszczynski is the former boyfriend of the woman who shared a home with Russo.

“The case was never cleared, charges were never filed,” said Trooper Dan Keston, of the Pennsylvania State Police. “Mr. Laszczynski was a person of interest in the death of Mr. Russo, so we continue to investigate.”

But now charges will never be filed against Laszczynski because last month he strapped explosives to his head and blew himself up. For the family of Russo, it’s not the news they’ve been waiting for.

“I think that’s probably one of the worst things I’d want to hear at this point because now I don’t know if I will get my answers,” said Jayme Russo, the victim’s brother.

But the records KDKA has uncovered show police developed a strong case against Laszcynski.

In the days after the killing, Laszcynski texted his former girlfriend, Heidi Smith, and asked, “Did you point the finger at me re: Steve?”

Then , Smith agreed to wear a wire and record her face to face conversations with Laszczynski.

In one conversation, Laszczynski says, “If you’re asking me to prove to you, to rule me out, Heidi, I’m sorry I can’t.”

In another conversation, Smith asks her former boyfriend, “Did he [Russo] suffer? Did you (expletive) with him before you killed him?”

Laszczynski’s response: “None. Zero.”

Smith asks: “How are you sure of that?”

He replies: “How do you think?”

There’s more evidence. Down the road from the murder scene lies the log cabin restaurant.

Video surveillance from the restaurant shows a man walking along the road who resembles Laszcznski. It was right about the time of the murder. State police are trying to enhance the video to get a positive identification.

Meanwhile, Russo’s family agonizes.

“Steve will never be forgotten in our minds,” said Jayme. “We’d like to try to get some direct answers to a lot of questions we have.”

RELATED LINKS:
Motive In Seneca Valley Teacher’s Death May Have Been Love Triangle (7/24/13)
More Reports by Paul Martino