WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — The father of the 40-year-old man shot and killed with his girlfriend at their home in Westmoreland County is speaking out.
As suspect Victor Steban sits behind bars charged with Jake Erdeljac and Mara Casale’s deaths, the families of both victims are preparing for Steban’s preliminary hearing on Tuesday.READ MORE: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued For Pittsburgh Area; High Winds, Potential Hail Expected
Erdeljac’s father, Rob, knows he may not get all of the answers as to why his son was murdered.
“Jake had an infectious smile and a glint of mischief in his eyes,” Rob said. “Always loving, always loving.
“I am in denial, two times a day maybe three. If I’m not with people, I will slip out of denial and as soon as a slip out of it I rush back to denial.”
Rob remembers the last phone call he and his son had just hours before Jake was shot and killed.
“He said, ‘I love you, dad.’ And I said, ‘I love you too, big Jake,'” Rob said.READ MORE: Consumer Alert Issued For Italian Village Pizza/Shake Shop In Pleasant Hills
On the night of May 16, police say Steban gunned down Jake and Casale at their Claridge home. They just got home from a motorcycle ride, police said.
“It appears, from what the detective said, he was making a little turn into his garage and took five rounds in the torso and one in the head,” Rob said. “And poor Mara was obviously killed also.”
Rob doesn’t have all of the answers but believes Steban was there to steal his son’s truck, which police said Steban did. Rob said Jake had no connection with Steban other than an incident where his son bought some rounds of drinks
“He knew who he was and he knew Jake. But they didn’t hang out together,” Rob said. “Jake bought a round, he denied the round and Jake turned and said this guy must not like me.”
While the father may never know why, he said what hurts the most is his son was living his best life with the woman he loved.
“It’s just very sad. It’s the depth of the sadness I’ve ever experienced,” Rob said.MORE NEWS: Police: 2 Young Kids Critically Hurt In Quadruple Shooting
Outside of Rob’s Oakmont home is a picture collage of Jake and a poem his son wrote. Rob also posts memories and pictures on Facebook, which helps him.