A local news outlet in Pittsburgh has identified the person who purportedly sent a jail inmate a letter claiming to have witnessed Rachael DelTondo’s murder.
DelTondo, 33, was gunned down in her driveway on the night of May 13, moments after her friend dropped her off following a night out for ice cream. Police have questioned several people — including a 20-year-old man who was found with the former teacher in a parked car when he was underage — but have made no arrests.
The homicide investigation now seems to be focused on a letter sent to an inmate in the Beaver County Jail shortly after the murder; the author claimed to have witnessed the killing and identified the person responsible. As CrimeOnline previously reported, that inmate — 21-year-old Wayne A. Cordes — accepted a plea deal in exchange for his cooperation in the DelTondo murder investigation. Prosecutors dropped several charges related to an assault and theft case, and Cordes will serve a maximum of 16 months in jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault, according to the Beaver County Times.
The Beaver County Times also reports that the author of the letter identified themselves as Lauren Watkins, a 17-year-old friend of DelTondo’s who dropped her off just moments before the fatal shooting. The claim in the report is consistent with information CrimeOnline previously received from an anonymous source that we could not corroborate at the time.
Watkins is the daughter of Aliquippa Police Sgt. Kenneth Watkins, who reportedly showed up to the crime scene on the night of DelTondo’s murder, though he was off-duty. As CrimeOnline previously reported, some members of the Aliquippa Police Department reportedly believe that Watkins may have contaminated the crime scene.
Sgt. Watkins has been placed on leave during the investigation, but not as a result of any disciplinary action.
According to the Beaver County Times, Sgt. Watkins was the charging officer in the case against Cordes. There is no indication of any connection between Cordes’ assault case and DelTondo’s murder.
Authorities have not verified that the letter sent to Cordes is authentic or written by the person claiming to be the author. The Beaver Countian uncovered a major discrepancy in the story of how the letter got to Cordes: His ex-girlfriend Kayle Hill says she was given the letter by the person who wrote while she was at work at at Circle K store. But the Beaver Countian discovered that Hill had stopped working there a month before DelTondo’s murder.
The letter is reportedly being analyzed in a lab.