The mother of a Pennsylvania teacher shot to death in her driveway on Mother’s Day has challenged the role of the local police department handling Rachael DelTondo’s murder investigation.
In an interview with the Beaver Countian, Lisa DelTondo said she thinks an outside agency should take over the homicide investigation, citing questions about the integrity of the Aliquippa Police Department and the Beaver County District Attorney’s Office.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Rachael DelTondo, 33, was shot and killed in her mother’s driveway on May 13. Months before her death, Rachael had been suspended from her teaching position after the Beaver Countian published a story based on a leaked police report from February 2016: DelTondo and a then-17-year-old high school student, Sheldon Jeter, had been found by police in a parked car. Both were questioned and released, and both reportedly said they were just talking. DelTondo was not charged with any crimes, and police have not named a suspect in her murder.
The suspended teacher had reportedly been in a romantic relationship at certain points with both Sheldon Jeter and his older brother Tyrie Jeter, who was with DelTondo and her friend Lauren Watkins on the night of her death. Watkins’ father Kenneth Watkins is an Aliquippa police sergeant, and reportedly showed up to the murder scene on the night of May 13, although he was not on duty.
The Beaver Countian obtained an internal memo from the Aliquippa Police Department showing that the department was critical of Sgt. Watkins’ behavior on the night of DelTondo’s murder, suggesting he may have contaminated the crime scene.
“Sgt. Watkins was off-duty and showed no respect for the crime scene, this is unacceptable for a veteran officer,” Aliquippa Police Captain Robert Sealock reportedly said in a letter.
“As your Captain, it’s my determination that the scene could have been contaminated and Sgt. Watkins acted in an unprofessional manner.”
Aliquippa Police Chief Donald Couch is reportedly seeking to take disciplinary action against Sgt. Watkins, who is currently on paid leave because of his daughter’s connection to the crime.
Sheldon Jeter reportedly told his lawyer that DelTondo told him shortly before her death that she was set to testify before a grand jury as part of an investigation into the Aliquippa Police Department. The veracity of Jeter’s claim and the specifics of the investigation are unclear, but Pennsylvania State Police Station Commander Sgt. Amanda C. Selden reportedly confirmed “indirectly” to the Beaver Countian that active investigations are ongoing. It is not known if these investigations are in any way connected to DelTondo’s homicide investigation.
Still, Rachael’s mother told the Beaver Countian she is shocked that the Aliquippa Police Department is still handling the investigation, and believes that their involvement could aid a potential suspect’s defense once an arrest is made.
The grieving mother also said that police have not kept her up to date on any developments, as she struggles to comprehend her daughter’s tragic death.
“Our lives will never be the same, I am a different person,” Lisa said. “Every morning I wake up and pray that this is a bad dream, but my baby is at Mt. Olivet (cemetery) rotting (…) My heart is gone. My soul is shot. I don’t even believe in God anymore.”
Rachael’s mother said she hasn’t been in recent contact with anyone from the police department.
“I haven’t heard or seen from anybody since over a week and a half ago,” she said. “All I wanted is to be kept informed.”