CLARIDGE, Pa. (KDKA) – As suspect Victor Steban sits behind bars charged with Jake Erdeljac and Mara Casale’s deaths, the victims’ families want to turn the attention away from him.
“I won’t ever get to have a friend like that again, it makes it really tough because she was such a good person and she was my rock,” Sara Wally said.READ MORE: 'There's A Literal Bear In Our Backyard:' Black Bear Spotted Roaming Penn Borough Neighborhood
Wally was friends with Mara since the eighth grade and they’ve stayed close for the last 15 years. She still can’t believe her friend was shot and killed Sunday night.
Remember Jake And Mara:
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“That’s been the hardest thing this week is just waiting for the nightly midnight text from her or phone call because she was bored and couldn’t sleep and she was such an animal lover too,” Wally said.
Mara was a bartender with a love for life and a love for her boyfriend Jake. He was gunned down beside her at their Claridge home.READ MORE: New Push In Pennsylvania Seeks To Give Frontline Workers A Boost In Hourly Pay
“He met you with a beautiful smile and glimpse of mischief in his eyes,” said Jake’s Father Robert Erdeljac.
Robert told KDKA he’s still in denial, but he wants the community know Jake.
“He’s helpful to everyone. He’s the most generous, caring, loving person not only to his family, his nieces and nephews, his brothers and sisters, his mom and me, and his friends,” Robert said.
He was a former Penn Hills long snapper turned motorcycle rider. Jake traveled across the country on his Harley while working towards the next trip.
One thing is clear to those who loved them: these two had a bright future.
“I know she’s in heaven watching down on us and she’ll be here forever,” Wally said.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Storm Chances Return On Friday Afternoon
The families want to thank the community for the support and those who have stepped forward with donations. In the end, they can’t answer why Steban ultimately targeted their loved ones, but they hope justice is in the future.