By Andy Sheehan


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ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) — The murder of a beautiful young woman in the driveway of her mother’s home launched a national obsession over just who did it because although Aliquippa is not a large city, there is no shortage of people with apparent motive.

When suspicion fell on her former fiancée, Frank Catroppa, he took the unusual step of publicly denying any involvement.

“When you’re with somebody for eight years, that’s quite some time, you just hope to see that they at least get justice. It’s sad. It’s a sad case,” Catroppa said.

Others pointed to city officials and the police themselves as Aliquippa became the focus of a still on-going state grand jury investigating corruption, though last summer the District Attorney David Lozier denied reports that DelTondo had been called to testify.

“To the best of my knowledge, she was not a witness in another outside investigation that has anything to do with this homicide,” Lozier said.

Instead, according to sources and a series of search warrants, investigators have focused on DelTondo’s on-again, off-again boyfriend — former high school football and basketball star Sheldon Jeter, whose attorney, Michael Santicola, has maintained was not involved.

“He was not angry with her and there was no motive whatsoever for him to do anything to Rachael,” Santicola said.

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But nine month after the murder there have been no arrests, as investigators struggle with two stodgy problems — no eyewitness and no murder weapon, meaning they need to build a circumstantial case.

We know that detectives have subpoenaed Jeter’s phone, taken a swab of his DNA, confiscated some of his clothing and sent swatches of carpet from his car to a crime lab. They’ve also tried to track his movements that night from dozens of surveillance cameras around town.

While declining a camera interview and declining to discuss any potential suspects, Lozier told KDKA in February: “We’re making progress. We getting forensic results back. We have a few more pieces of the puzzle we’re waiting on, but we are making progress.”

Still, Santicola says Jeter has airtight alibi witnesses who have not shifted their stories even after repeated interrogations by investigators.

“He was with his mother at the same time, he was at his house, he was with his friends doing the thing that 19- and 20-year-olds do,” Santicola said.

Should Jeter be charged, Santicola says prosecutors can expect a scorched earth defense.

“I think that it would be very relevant what everybody else was doing at the time — other people that had motives, things that might have been going on in the police department, things might have been going in with the victim herself. It’s just a crazy case at this point in time,” Santicola said.