ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (KDKA) — There is a possible breakthrough in the nearly three-year-old unsolved murder mystery of 33-year-old Rachael DelTondo.
DelTondo was killed outside her mother’s Beaver County home in 2018 on Mother’s Day. Years later, there are new major developments.
KDKA Investigates has learned for the past 18 months, a state investigating grand jury has been weighing all the evidence in the murder of DelTondo. That grand jury is wrapping up and expected to soon recommend the filing of criminal homicide charges.
For the past year and a half, a Beaver County grand jury has considered the evidence against a number of potential suspects but has focused primarily on Sheldon Jeter Jr. Without a murder weapon or eyewitness, prosecutors have presented a circumstantial case against the one-time DelTondo boyfriend — his attorney believes to the exclusion of others.
“Not being privy to what’s in the grand jury, it would be our position that there would be circumstantial evidence against many individuals,” said attorney Michael Santicola.
Jurors were tasked with weeding out those with a motive to harm DelTondo. Jeter, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on another homicide, was not called.
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One person who did testify was Frank Catroppa, DelTondo’s ex-fiancée. He stepped forward early to categorically deny any involvement, then and now.
“When you’re with somebody for eight years, that’s quite some time, you just hope to see that they at least get justice,” Catroppa said in 2018.
Other suspects include the investigators themselves amid reports DelTondo was set to testify before another grand jury about corruption in the Aliquippa Police Department. District Attorney David Lozier denied it.
“To the best of my knowledge, she was not a witness in another outside investigation,” Lozier said in 2018.
But after the investigation dragged on for more than a year without results, KDKA has learned that Lozier turned to a state grand jury and outside agencies like the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for help.
Without a witness or recovered weapon, sources say the grand jury has seen evidence taken from Jeter’s phone, a swab of his DNA, confiscated clothing and swatches of carpet from his car, which were analyzed at the state crime lab.
The ATF has also supplied evidence tracking his movements the night of the murder from GPS signals and dozens of surveillance cameras around town, which sources say put him close to the murder scene around that time.
Santicola says that does not prove guilt.
“The fact that he may or may not have been close is a question, sure. But it’s not indicative of a direct answer that he did it,” Santicola told KDKA.
But the motive presented to the grand jury is one of obsession and jealousy. Sources tell KDKA’s Andy Sheehan that jurors heard the testimony of Jeter’s elder half-brother, RaShawn Bolton, who had been dating DelTondo six months up until the time of her death.
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Bolton testified he was out of town the night of the murder but recounted an incident with DelTondo when the couple encountered Jeter, who was visibly upset at seeing them together. Santicola dismissed this saying DelTondo was afraid of someone else.
“She was afraid of somebody, you’ll recall, but she was not afraid of Sheldon Jeter and I don’t think they’ve answered that question,” said Santicola.
The grand jury is meeting this week for what is likely to be its last session. They are expected to soon make a recommendation to Lozier, who could then file charges.
Lozier would not comment on the existence of the grand jury but told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan on the phone, “We are actively investigating the homicide of Rachel DelTondo. We are working very hard with many law enforcement agencies and experts to solve this case and give the family peace.”